Girls U-18/19 team repeats; Girls U-17 also triumphs
There are golden goals.
And then there are golden seasons.
The Michigan Hawks, loaded with area players, made quite a statement during the 2016-17 Elite Club National League campaign by claiming the ECNL's overall club championship girls soccer title for the second time in three years.
The Hawks' Under-18/19 squad, coached by Doug Landefeld, earned gold earlier this summer in Rockford, Ill., while the U-17 team, coached by Derek Williford, also brought home a national title last month in San Diego, Calif.
The Hawks claimed three Midwest Conference championships this season at U-15, -16 and -18/19 levels, and had no team finish lower than third in one of the most demanding conferences in the country.
Overall, the club qualified all five age groups for the top tier of the ECNL post season. The Hawks' U-15 team also advanced to the ECNL's final four in San Diego.
Playing five games in the seven days, the Hawk' U-18/19 team finished with a 4-0-1 record capped by a 3-2 win over the vaunted San Diego Surf in the finals as forward Riley Tanner (Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern), now playing for the University of South Carolina, scored a pair of goals, while Canton grad Madison Wolfbauer (Illinois), added the other goal.
"We played better teams in the final 16 than we did the year before," Landefeld said. "And the Surf was arguably the best team. We lost to them two times. That was our only loss this year and then we lost to them the year before, so we'd never beaten them."
The Michigan Hawks U-18/19 repeated as Elite Club National League champions in Rockford, Ill. (Photo: BLAZE BYRD | ECNL)
Among Landefeld's starting 11 included all NCAA Division I signees starting with Novi's Bethany Kopel (Indiana University) in goal.
The backline was anchored by Farmington Hills Mercy's Sarah Clark (Milford/Purdue), Northville's Abby Willerer (Central Michigan), Brighton's Maggie Samanich (Ohio State) and Sterling Heights' Sarah Mitchell (Macomb Dakota/CMU).
The midfield, meanwhile, consisted of Northville' Morgan Kloosterman (Butler), Brighton's Sheila Magnan (CMU), Novi's Grace Krygier (Wisconsin) and Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern's Maddie Myers (Penn State).
Among the key reserves were Livonia Stevenson's Diane Senkowski (Iowa) and Saline's Catherine Dager (Villanova) in the back, while the midfield consisted of Dakota's Hannah Mueller and Regan Steigleder (North Liberty, Ia./Northwestern).
Also sharing the load in the midfield and also at forward were Birmingham Groves' Alexxis Lipsey (Southfield/Ohio State) and Birmingham Marian's Hannah Redoute (Shelby Township/Western Michigan).
Canton midfielder Izzy Rodriguez (Salem H.S.), a member of the U.S. U-17 World Cup team now playing at Ohio State, was injured early on in the tournament, while Brighton defender Samantha Kleedtke (Farmington Hills Mercy/Wisconsin) was also out of the lineup due to illness.
"The San Diego Surf team we beat in the finals had five youth national team players on it," Landefeld said. "Pretty cool. We've been in the national championship with U-18s in the ECNL five of the last six years and won three of them. The commitment to help get the kids ready for college and helping them finish out their careers in the club has been rewarded by both the parents and the club players."
The Michigan Hawks' Alex DeRuvo (Canton) and Natalie Viggiano (Macomb Dakota) kiss the ECNL U-17 championship trophy. (Photo: BLAZE BYRD | ECNL)
Meanwhile, the Hawks' U-17 team was ranked 30th out of 32 teams heading into the Rockford regional, but Williford's team defied the odds by capturing the title.
Brighton's Alexa Spaanstra, another member of the U.S. U-17 World Cup team, scored a hat trick in the regional final as the Hawks defeated Ohio Premier, 3-1, to earn the trip to San Diego.
In the semifinals, the Hawks ousted the Colorado Storm, 2-1, in a penalty kick shootout before earning the coveted crown with a 3-2 triumph over Crossfire Premier (Wash.) behind goals from Camryn Evans (Flint Powers), who had the game-winner, along with Kelsey Adams (Brighton) and Natalie Viggiano (Dakota).
Sharing the goalkeeping duties by playing a half each in the finals were Alex DeRuvo (Canton) and Maciah Lipsey (Marian).
The defense was sparked by Sami Lopez (Sterling Heights Stevenson), Sam Sklarski (Grosse Pointe South) and Lexy Smith (Rochester), while Annabelle Honet (Birmingham Seaholm) and Izzy Verdugo (Canton) anchored the midfield.
Other key defenders included Madeline Carlson (South Lyon East), Erin McDonald (Plymouth/Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard), Fotini Demetriou (Troy/Birmingham Seaholm) and Zoe Hudson (Marian).
The Michigan Hawks' U-17 ECNL champions were all smiles after winning the title in San Diego. (Photo: BLAZE BYRD | ECNL)
Forwards off the bench included Sydney Kloosterman (Northville), Kasey Jamieson (Lansing Christian) and Chloe Woodbeck (Royal Oak Shrine), along with midfielder Gabby Mueller (Dakota). Unable to play due to injury was Alexa Sabbagh (Dearborn).
"To get there they had a great run," Landefeld said. "They won their first game in Rockford and then just kind of kept moving forward. They went 7-0-1 in the spring to get in. Then it was kind of a perfect storm for them. Everything they needed to happen, happened. They got goals at the right time. Maciah (Lipsey) and Alex (DeRuvo) both played great in goal. Sam Sklarski and Lexy Smith, the two center backs, were solid in the back. Just a really, really good team effort."