BY DAN STICKRADT
BEVERLY HILLS — It wasn’t a matter of when Pontiac Notre Dame Prep would score on Grosse Ile Friday night. It was more of a matter of how often.
The Fighting Irish pelted Grosse Ile for most of 80 minutes and ousted the Red Devils, 4-1, in a girls soccer Division 3 regional final Friday at Birmingham Detroit Country Day.
Sophomore Taylor Timko scored two goals with an assists and Notre Dame Prep thoroughly outplayed the Red Devils in winning their first regional title since 2000 and only second all-time since launching its girls soccer program two decades ago.
Notre Dame Prep will play in the state semifinals next Wednesday at Lake Orion against defending state champion Flint Powers Catholic.
To gain some respect, Timko was only an small child when Notre Dame Prep last reached the Final Four and she’s glad that her group is joining an elite group of teams from the area, even though she felt her team has been the underdog in several games in the postseason..
“This is a great feeling, especially because this was the only game we’ve played (the past couple of weeks) that we were favored to win,” said Timko. “We weren’t favored to beat (Ann Arbor) Gabriel Richard and we weren’t supposed to beat (Detroit) Country Day. But here we are winning a regional championship and I know it’s been a long time for our school.”
Sixth-ranked Notre Dame Prep (14-5-2) outshot Grosse Ile by a 22-3 margin, including 12-2 with shots directly on goal, and controlled play for the first 65 minutes of the contest.
The Irish took a 1-0 lead with 33:49 still to play in the first half, courtesy of a 25-yard blast from the foot of Timko to set the tone.
“This is a great step for our program,” said Notre Dame Prep coach Jim Stachura. “Two years ago, we were 10-10 and didn’t win anything. Last year we improved to 14-5 and this year we are in the Final Four. I have been there as (an assistant) coach with Troy in 2003 when we won the state championship. I’m excited for the girls to be able to experience a run like this.”
Notre Dame Prep outshot Grosse Ile 16-0 in the first half alone and even misfired on a first-half penalty kick.
Finally, after just a one-goal lead at the half, the floodgates opened in the second half.
Notre Dame Prep attempted six shots in the second half and scored on three straight attempts to gain a 4-0 advantage with just under 25 minutes to play.
Jennifer Klei made it 2-0 with 32:12 left in the contest when she beat her mark in the corner, dribbled along the end line and laced a bending low shot just inside the far post.
Timko struck again on a breakaway feed from Christine Scheer with 29:47 remaining, this time racing past several defenders down the middle and slipping a shot past Grosse Ile netminder Anna Barger.
The Fighting Irish capped the scoring when Timko fed Lindsey Klei with the ball in the box and Klei cut to her left and sliced a shot into the corner of the goal.
“It was hard to gain a fair gage on Grosse Ile when we scouted them the other night, but once we started to move the ball in this game I saw that we had a great chance to score some goals,” said Stachura. “We had a lot of opportunities in the first half but we struggled to convert. In the second half we scored three more and I felt a little more comfortable.
“When you have girls like Taylor Timko and Lindsey Keli and (Jennifer) Klei, it makes a team like us hard to stop,” added Stachura. “We have a lot of dangerous players and we caused a lot of problems for them. “
Grosse Ile, making its first appearance in the regional finals in 10 years, did muster three second-half cornerkicks. In the final 20 minutes, Notre Dame Prep inserted primarily its bench and the Red Devils began to mount some pressure.
Grosse Ile (16-5-3) spoiled the shut out with 4:51 left on a goal by Jaztam Teem.
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