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GIRLS SOCCER: Salem blanks Grosse Pointe South to win first regional title since 1995


BY DAN STICKRADT

COMMUNICATIONS SPECIALIST | WEB AND CONTENT EDITOR | DIRECTOR OF NEWS

PH: (248) 884-1051

TW/X: @msn_stickradt @LocalSportsFans @MiSoccerNetwork


AUGUSTA TWP., Mich. – Fresh off the school’s first district title in over a quarter century, Salem is clearly making up for some lost time.


The Rocks, honorable mention in the Division 1 polls entering the state tournament, captured their fifth straight postseason win and third via shutout thanks to a 3-0 victory Friday over unranked Grosse Pointe South in the Division 1 regional finals at Ypsilanti Lincoln High School.


The last time Salem played in the regional finals came on May 30, 1998 – a 4-0 loss to eventual state champion Livonia Stevenson. The last time Salem won a regional title came in 1995, when the Rocks advanced all the way to the Class A state finals before falling to then-No. 1-ranked Birmingham Seaholm, 4-2.


Both of those losses came against teams that produced the Miss Soccer winners in those respective years – Heather Brown (Birmingham Seaholm, 1995) and Allison Campbell (Livonia Stevenson, 1998).


This time around, Salem is on a quest and would not denied on this Friday night.


“I feel like we are playing some of our best soccer right now,” admitted eighth-year Salem coach Kyle Karns. “Just as long as we’re peaking and playing our best, I feel like we have a shot with any team. I feel like we’ve made a good run here.”


Although Grosse Pointe South came out aggressive with a pair of shots and two cornerkicks in the first 10 minutes, Salem eventually settled down and began to find its rhythm.

In fact, the Rocks scored on three of their first four shots on frame and never allowed the Blue Devils a chance to climb back into the contest.



Salem (15-5-5) posted a 16-6 shots advantage in the game, including 9-5 with shots on frame, and even held a 9-4 edge on cornerkicks – all signaling the team’s level of play since sputtering with a 0-3-1 stretch late in the regular season where the team was missing a few key players.


Everyone is back and the Rocks have reached the Final Four for the first time in 29 years.


“I think it’s staying in the routine and continuing what we’ve done throughout the whole process,” noted Karns of his team’s journey. “You know, just continuing to move forward one day at a time.”


Senior Morganne Jones recorded five saves on the night for her third straight shutout and the team’s eighth clean sheet of the season.

 

Putting forth consistent pressure on Grosse Pointe South’s end of the field, sophomore forward Lauren Fowler set up the eventual game-winner, as her perfectly-slotted ball into a crease went to senior midfielder Claire Hammill who uncorked a laser just inside the left post from 20 yards out with 25:33 still to go in the first half. Hammill has signed with NCAA Division I Rutgers University of the Big Ten Conference and is an integral part of the Rocks’ resurgence this season.


That goal temporarily opened the floodgates for Salem, as all three of the goals came in a 19-minute span of the first half.


Salem added its second goal with 21:29 remaining in the first half. This time it was Hammill finding a streaking senior Elaine Rama down the right side and Rama beat her mark and lofted a high shot over traffic that curled into the left side of the goal.


The Rocks were not done, as freshman Kendall Jaskolski got into the scoring act, picking off an errant clear some 30 yards out before eventually blasting a shot into the right side with 6:38 left in the half.



“I felt like it took us a while to settle into the game,” said Karns. “I thought (South) had a really good start to their game. It took us a little while. It may have been nerves or whatever the case might be, but once we came down and got that (first) goal everything calmed down a little bit at that point.


“It’s been a fun run and obviously the girls are enjoying it. Hopefully we can continue to move forward,” added Karns.


Grosse Pointe South (11-5-4) came out aggressive early in the second half, but the efforts were futile against the Rocks’ stout defense in this game. Salem shut the door on the Blue Devils’ attempts and Jones was at the doorstep each time a shot got through to near the goal mouth area.


“It just feels really good to get this far. I feel like we have a really good team here,” smiled Jones, who hasn’t conceded a goal since beating Canton in the district semifinals when the Rocks revenged two regular-season losses in that game. “I think we can take it all the way. Our back line is (playing) phenomenal right now. Our forwards are really stepping up to the occasion and I think we really want it.”


Once Salem got over the hump of beating nemesis Canton, plus KLAA Tournament champion Livonia Stevenson, the Rocks now believe they can win at this stage.



“(Beating Canton) felt great because we hadn’t beat them in a while. After they knocked us out last year and we knocked them out this year helped us out a lot,” continued Jones of her team’s tournament run.


Grosse Pointe South became the Rocks’ latest victim. The Blue Devils outscored their previous three tournament foes 16-1 but hadn’t played a team anywhere near the level that Salem has played in the tournament or faced such a gauntlet during the season in general.

Salem holds a 11-2 scoring edge in the state tournament with victories over two top-10 teams – ninth-ranked Canton (2-1) in the district semifinals and No. 2-ranked Ann Arbor Skyline (1-0) in the regional semifinals, plus honorable mention Livonia Stevenson (3-0) in the district championship match. Overall, the Rocks hold a 54-22 scoring edge on the season despite playing a brutally-tough schedule.


“From top to bottom I feel like everyone has played well throughout this run, for sure,” noted Karns.


Salem will face Oakland Activities Association-Red Division runner-up and sixth-ranked Rochester Adams (14-2-2) in the state semifinals Tuesday at Troy High School. Adams ousted third-ranked Troy 1-0 in overtime Thursday night to win their 12th regional title in school history.


The state semifinals match creates an OAA-KLAA clash, as the two leagues keep producing some of the best talent year-in and year-out. The OAA has produced the state champions in Division 1 the last two years (Bloomfield Hills and Rochester Stoney Creek) with the KLAA boasting the state champ in 2021 in Hartland, which is in the Final Four on the opposite side of the bracket.


Hartland also defeated OAA member Troy Athens in that 2021 state title game. KLAA-member Northville lost Bloomfield Hills in the 2022 state finals.


“Obviously both of those conferences are always loaded. They’re both always represented (deep) in the postseason,” beamed Karns. “Obviously it will be a tough match (with Rochester Adams). They have a lot of talent on their roster. We’ll do some homework obviously and prepare.”


(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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