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GIRLS SOCCER Rochester Stoney Creek faces many challenges as defending state champion



BY DAN STICKRADT

Communications Specialist | Web And Content Editor | Director of News |

Social Media Director | Interns and Freelance Coordinator

PH: (248) 884-1051

TW: @LocalSportsFans @MiSoccerNetwork


ROCHESTER HILLS, Mich. – Every time Bryan Mittelstadt looks at his team, he sees new faces everywhere.


Plenty of them.


That’s stands to reason.


“We graduated a ton of players,” admitted Mittelstadt, whose team is the defending Division 1 state champions and also captured a state title back in 2016. “I haven’t even seen my whole team yet. The girls basketball team made a run and then spring break happened.”

Stoney Creek’s girls basketball team reached the Division 1 state quarterfinals back on March 19 (a 57-29 loss to eventual state runner-up Grand Blanc), so several soccer players were busy with girls basketball and unable to attend tryouts and soccer practices. Then spring break hit a week later.


Not too mention that the Cougars will play virtually every game with a large target on their back as the defending state champion -- even though this is a new roster.

“We had several girls fly out of town early for spring break, and we had some injuries so we never really saw our whole program together,” offered Mittelstadt. “It seems there was always girls missing for various reasons.”


Another reason for the boatload of new faces was graduation and defection. Stoney Creek graduated 13 players and had two others opt to not return for the 2024 campaign, and one of those players was a starter.


“We lost most of our starting lineup,” added Mittelstadt.

What a cast to lose, as many were three- and four-year varsity members. Also gone is two-time Miss Soccer winner Lilley Bosley (D/M/F), who was a top 100 prospect nationally in the Class of 2023 and became an All-Big Ten Conference Freshman Team member for the University of Michigan.


Madeline McGinlay (M) is now on the roster at University of North Carolina-Greensboro, while Kaeli Butcher (D), Mia Carson (D/F), Megan Kennedy (D), Lily Solek (D/M), Kendall Allen (D), Ava Avripas (F) and Faith Breuhan (M) were also starters in the state championship game that graduated last June.


Plus, last year’s No. 1 goalkeeper, junior Merrick Schwalbach, opted after the Cougars’ basketball tournament run in March that she was going to just train with her club soccer team this spring and not return to Stoney Creek’s varsity soccer roster. Senior Gigi Biondo, a reserve on last year’s squad, also opted to not to play this season.


Stoney Creek finished 26-1-1 overall last season and the only loss came in early April against Rochester Adams (2-0). The Cougars also tied Rochester (1-1) in the league finale and wound up finishing second in the seven-school Oakland Activities Association Red Division behind Rochester.


The Cougars did back that up with its long postseason run which included a 2-1 triumph over Rochester in the district finals.


Stoney Creek, which entered the Division 1 postseason last year ranked third, outscored its opposition 85-11 overall with 16 shutouts last season, including 14-5 with three clean sheets in the postseason run. That concluded with a come-from-behind 2-1 victory over fellow top-10 state-ranked Hudsonville in the state finals.


But the bulk of that offensive production graduated or chose not to return – 74 of those 85 goals to be exact, or over 87 percent – and every player that earned some type of postseason honors (All-OAA, All-District, All-Region and All-State) are gone.

“It will be interesting,” admitted Mittelstadt, who said that this season will be much more difficult than in the 2017 season that followed the first state championship run. That year the Cougars brought back all but three players and eight starters. This year there are only two returning starters.


“I don’t know if I have ever lost this much talent. We do have some good girls and we do have some talent. But we have to see how it all shakes out,” said Mittelstadt.

Senior Sarina Shah (M) is the top returning goal scorer from last season, where she finished with six goals and seven assists. Senior Lauren Palmer (M/F) is the only other player that started in last season’s state championship game.


Seniors Kaitlyn Krier (F), Olivia Lombardo (M), Lily Stickney (M/F), Angie Toma (M) and Tigi Maio (D) also played significant minutes off the bench last season. Krier played tons of minutes last March and April until her season was cut short due to an ACL knee injury shelved her for the second half of the campaign.


Sophomore goalkeeper Jessica Kennedy was the understudy but still logged 785 minutes between the pipes last season and posted a 0.41 goals-against-average in that span. Senior Alyssa Welker (D) tore her ACL at the beginning of last season and had to spend the rest of the campaign on crutches and serve as the team manager. Junior Gianna Kay (D/M) played at Pontiac Notre Dame Prep two years ago but had to sit out last season due to the strict MHSAA transfer rules.


Two players came back from the Girls Academy system this season should make an impact. Senior Erin Rice (G/M) will split time with the aforementioned Kennedy in goal or play in the field, while junior Delaney Batur (M/F) also played in the GA league last season and did not play high school soccer. Both of them are expected to help fill holes and help solidify the mostly-new lineup.


Juniors Maddy Burns (M/F) and Ryan Hakala (CB), sophomores Renee Wrobel (M) and Rile Zsigo (M) and freshman Emma Norre (M) are also amongst the top newcomers.

“A lot of these girls are new. Some came off the bench last season, some played JV, some played GA and others are freshmen and sophomores. But they all are strong players. We’ll just have to see where everyone fits the best, who plays well with one another. A lot of these girls seem to be versatile and can play multiple positions,” added Mittelstadt.

Stoney Creek will begin a slate of 2-3 games a week beginning April 1.


“We still have girls who are literally stepping off the plane Monday that were gone for a week or a week and a half,” noted Mittelstadt. “We haven’t practiced with our full team yet and we have a lot of games coming up.”

Talk about a dose of baptism under fire.


“It doesn’t give us much time to prepare and get used to playing with each other. After we won it in 2016, we only graduated three players from that team so when we came back in (2017) we had most of our team back,” recalled Mittelstadt. “Those girls understood the system and were used to playing with each other. This year it’s a lot different with a lot of new girls. Sure, a lot of these girls play for different clubs but for some of them this will be the first time they’ve played together.”


(Have a story suggestion for the Premier Media Group and the Michigan Soccer Network regarding club soccer, high school varsity, amateur soccer, collegiate soccer or professional soccer of teams or players with Michigan ties, contact Communications Specialist/Web and Content Editor/Director of News Dan Stickradt via email at stickradt@michigansoccernetwork.com, or call 248-884-1051. Dan Stickradt is a 31-year veteran of the Michigan Media circles and recently joined the staff full time in March of 2024. Want to schedule a broadcast game or live show, contact PMG/MSN Director of Broadcasting Jonathan Turner for availability and pricing at jonathan@michigansoccernetwork.com.) 








 

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