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GIRLS SOCCER: St. Mary’s tops Dexter, keeps dream season moving along into regional finals


BY DAN STICKRADT

COMMUNICATIONS SPECIALIST | WEB AND CONTENT EDITOR | DIRECTOR OF NEWS

PH: (248) 884-1051

TW/X: @msn_stickradt @LocalSportsFans @MiSoccerNetwork


WATERFORD, Mich. – Soccer can often come down to finishing.


Orchard Lake St. Mary’s did quite a bit of that on the big stage Tuesday.

The 12th-ranked Eaglets scored three first half goals and tacked on two more after halftime in ousting Dexter 5-2 Tuesday night in a Division 2 regional semifinals match at Waterford Kettering High School.


St. Mary’s will face DeWitt, a 2-1 shootout winner over Goodrich in the other regional semifinal, in the regional finals Thursday at 6 p.m. also at Kettering.


“The seniors have really established the culture here at St. Mary’s,” admitted St. Mary’s coach Keith Jeffery. “The have set the tone of everything that we are doing here at St. Mary’s and have set the standards. Our group of seniors help start the program and have led us to where we are now.”


St. Mary’s, just a third-year girls soccer program, has already captured a Catholic High School League-AA Division, CHSL-Cardinal Tournament and Division 2 district titles this season – all firsts in school history – and is one win away from reaching its first Final Four.



University of Toledo-bound Cameron Cole is one of those key seniors and she was up to her usual tricks again Tuesday, keeping opposing defenses guessing. The forward scored two goals with an assist to give her 40 goals and 12 assists on the campaign and lead the Eaglets into the regional finals. She has 104 goals for her career and has set some high standards in terms of school records.


The Eaglets outshot Dexter 11-10 in the contest, including 9-7 with shots on frame, and were clearly the more opportunistic of the two teams by scoring five goals on the 11 shot attempts.

“I thought we were actually a little bit disorganized in the first half, especially in those first 15 minutes or so, but we were still able to score. I thought the set pieces were good and we got one in the first two minutes and were able to score there,” offered Jeffery. “Obviously, I thought we gave them the momentum back with the equalizer. We did get two others in the first half, but I liked the way we came out in the second half. We had a lot of chances and we scored one about six minutes into the second half. I thought our fitness kind of took over. We stuck to the game plan and didn’t panic. I thought when we scored the fourth goal it did kind of take the wind out of their sails a little bit. Cameron Cole had another big game for us with two goals and an assist, but I thought we played much better late in the first half and in the second half.”


Now on a 10-game win streak, St. Mary’s (17-2-1) scored just 1:24 into the contest to set the tone when sophomore center back Delaney David knocked in a cornerkick from freshman Alexi Hazamy.


Dexter was able to net the equalizer but could never gain the lead. Freshman Jillian Lower scored on a goal-mouth scramble following a free kick into the box by senior Laci Jernigan with 31:41 to play in the first half that tied the game at 1-1.

 


It was Cole who put the Eaglets ahead for good when she roped in a penalty kick into the corner of the net after a teammate was tripped up in the box with 23:51 left in the opening half.


Cole set up the St. Mary’s third goal when she sent a cross from the right corner of the box through traffic and junior Harper Natinsky tapped in a 10-yard shot into the left corner.

St. Mary’s came out and scored 5:19 into the second half to take the wind out of Dexter’s sails and potential comeback bit. Cole bet three defenders down the middle of the spine before uncorking a low left-footer from 18 yards out for the 4-1 advantage.


Senior Summer Reising put the game on ice with the St. Mary’s fifth goal with 28:19 remaining in the contest, as she slipped in a close-range on a rebound opportunity following a blast by Hazamy.


Jernigan scored Dexter’s second goal with just 1:13 to play off a slotted pass from freshman Victoria Collins. The damage had already been done by that point.


Dexter spent the last four seasons as a Division 1 school playing the same loaded district along with the likes of Saline, Ann Arbor Skyline, Ann Arbor Pioneer and Ann Arbor Huron amongst others, This school year the Dreadnaughts were dropped down to Division 2 enrollment-wise and were able to win a wide-open district which also contained Pinckney, Chelsea and Adrian, whom Dexter defeated in last week’s district finals.


 “They do (know how to finish,” said Dexter coach Rhys Moeller about St. Mary’s. “They are a quality team and I don’t think we show up today like in previous (games). We looked a little shaky at times or almost scared. We did tie it up about 10 minutes in, but other than that we did at times were a little shaky. And we knew they were a good team and have one really special player (Cameron Cole). We let here get free a couple of times and she scored.


“We are glad to be back down in Division 2 and win a district this year. We were somewhat of a young team, and we gained a lot of experience this year playing a tough schedule,” added Moeller. “Hopefully, we can make it back next season.”


Kira Howcroft and sophomore Kaylee Morton combined for five saves on seven shots for St. Mary’s. Freshman Emily Hosman had four saves for Dexter.


“We’re not done yet,” reminded Jeffrey. “We have a shot at a regional championship and hopefully we can make the semifinals next week.”



(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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