BY DAN STICKRADT
BURTON — Five seasons, three district championships, two regional titles and one state crown. And the fifth season isn’t even done just yet.
That’s the success story for the Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes-Clarkston Everest Collegiate Unified girls soccer team.
In just its fifth season of competition, the sixth-ranked and unbeaten Lakers captured their second regional title in three years Friday night at Burton Genesee Christian, rallying past fifth-ranked Saginaw Nouvel Catholic, 4-3, to not only avenge the team that knocked them out last season but reach the Division 4 Final Four.’
Nouvel blanked Lakes 3-0 in last year’s regional finals. The Lakers won the state championship in 2010 and captured their very first district in 2009.
“We have been very successful in just a short time,” said first-year Lakes-Everest coach Katie Hearns. “But we have been very fortunate enough to have some very good players and former coach (Rich Ludwig) laid a great foundation for this team.”
Lakes-Everest added another chapter to its short story Friday night with its come-from-behind regional title against Novel, who the Lakers also defeated in the 2010 regional semifinals.
Nouvel Catholic held three different leads on Lakes-Everest in the contest, before the Lakers rallied for the lead in the final 10 minutes to secure the victory and set up a date with another CHSL school in the Final Four. Lakes-Everest will face state powerhouse Madison Heights Bishop Foley in the state semifinals at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Pontiac Notre Dame Prep
Trailing 3-2, Jessica Parry tied the game in the 68th minute and then scored in the 73rd minute when her 25-yard blast skipped off the bottom of the crossbar and into the net.
“What a wild finish,” sighed Hearn. “I expected this to be a close game and it came right down to the final 10 minutes. We found a way to win.
“Jessica Parry stepped up when we needed her to,” added Hearn. “She had a huge game for us.”
Breanna Pawelkowski staked Nouvel to a 1-0 lead in the first half when she deposited a free kick from 22 yards out into the back of the net.
Lakes-Everest’s Anna Robb tied the game early in the second half.
Allie Kendall again gave Nouvel a 2-1 advantage, but this lead was short-lived, as Parry set up Ava Doetsch with a game-tying goal off a header in the 54th minute.
The Panthers regained the lead one final time, when Pawelkowski’s bomb from nearly 30 yards out reached the upper 90 of the net with 20 minutes to play.
“That was an amazing goal. No keeper was going to stop that,” said Hearn. “There was a lot of quality goals in this game.”
That highlight real only lighted a fire in the Lakes-Everest players and Parry’s late game heroics stole the show.
“This was one of those games where it was back-and-forth and we really just needed someone to step up and make some plays and I thought we had some girls do that,” said Hearn. “Every time they scored, we found a way to answer and then Jessica Parry scored those two late goals. I thought our goalkeeper Megan Luttinen also played a great game. Even though she gave up three goals, they were all quality goals by them and Megan came through with some big saves for us.
“She’s a first-year goalie who never played the position before this (high school) season,” added Hearn. “We needed someone to step up and play goalie and Megan’s did a terrific job. She made some big saves for us all season because she is very athletic and has picked up on the position well.”
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