WILLIAMSTON — Perfection on both ends.
But on the final day, and the final game of the Division 2 season, something finally had to give.
Entering Saturday’s D-2 state final at Williamston High, the Birmingham Marian and Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern girls soccer teams combined for 43 victories this spring.
More impressively, both entered the championship without a single blemish on their resume.
For Marian, that fact carries into the offseason as the team carried home a state title.
“If we don’t win the state championship, for us, it’s an unsuccessful season,” Marian coach Barry Brodsky said with a smile. “That is really unfair for the girls. They have to win the state championship to have a successful season. And they did.”
Marian carried play much of the first half, but couldn’t find the back of the net.
Northern broke the scoreless tie with 15:59 remaining in the first when freshman Addie Brown chipped one at the net. The ball deflected off Marian goaltender Isabel Hayes and snuck in just under the crossbar.
Marian’s offense responded right away, generating a handful of chances, including a shot that rang off the crossbar with 58 seconds to play in the half.
Still, Northern led 1-0 at the break.
The advantage wouldn’t last long in the second half.
Just moments after Marian banked a shot off the post, Ellie DeConinck found a rebound and buried it to even the score at 1-1 all of 1:15 into the frame.
“Huge,” Brodsky said of the game-tying tally. “We played great but we were frustrated. When that first one went in, everybody said, 'oh, thank you.'"
The game remained tied until midway through the second when Marian went up for good.
With continued pressure, DeConinck found herself open on the right side of the box and slammed a no-doubter past Northern keeper Amanda Young, who had no chance on the play.
The goal stood as the state-title clincher.
“Pretty cool,” DeConinck said about scoring twice. “I was just in the right spot. My team did all the work.”
“They kind of wore us down in the second half,” Northern coach Daniel Siminski said. “If you gotta lose, you gotta lose to a better team. They were better than us today. They deserved it.”
Marian, which lost to Pontiac Notre Dame Prep in last year’s semifinal game, closed the season 24-0-0 and won its first state title since 2012.
The team lost in the 2013 and 2014 finals.
“Feels incredible,” said senior Elaina Eckert, a freshman on the 2014 runner-up squad. “We’ve been pushing for it all year. It’s amazing to be back and win it this time.”
The title is the sixth (2012, 2010, 2009, 2004 and 2003) in program history for the Mustangs.
“To be a state champ is all I’ve ever wanted for the past four years,” DeConinck said. “It’s an amazing feeling.”
Northern closes its season 20-1-3.
The Huskies’ last loss was a 2-1 setback in a shootout to Prep in last year’s D-2 final.
Northern has lost three state championship games since 2010.