BY DAN STICKRADT
LAKE ORION — There are some puzzles that just can’t be solved.
For Pontiac Notre Dame Prep, the Fighting Irish simply could not solve top-ranked and defending state champion Flint Powers Catholic on the soccer pitch on two separate occasions this season.
After falling to Powers Catholic, 3-1, earlier in the campaign, Notre Dame Prep still couldn’t figure out a way to defeat the Chargers in their second meeting, falling 2-0 Wednesday in a Division 3 state semifinal at Lake Orion High School.
Powers Catholic (21-1-4) heads into Saturday’s 3 p.m. state final at Williamston High School to face Hudsonville Unity Christian (22-0-4) in a rematch of last year’s state title game.
Sixth-ranked Notre Dame Prep, making its first appearance in the Final Four since 2000, finished the season 14-6-2.
“The game was similar to where I thought it would be like, we just couldn’t score,” said third-year Notre Dame Prep coach Jim Stachura. “We did have a couple of nice chances.
“I think what hurt us was that Jenn Klei had an injury earlier in the week and she was at 60 percent,” added Stachura. “She couldn’t run and do the things she normally can do. We knew they would stick two players on Taylor Timko and they did that, so we needed to have another weapon on offense. When one of your top players is not at 100 percent, it takes away from your game plan.”
Limiting Notre Dame Prep’s chances on one end, Powers scored what proved to be the game-winner with 13:28 left in the first half. Chelsea Howe’s long shot from 30 yards out found the netting just under the crossbar.
“We didn’t give them very many chances. Overall, I thought if we could do that and maybe go into the half 0-0 or maybe 1-0 then we would be fine,” offered Stachura. “We had that one mistake and the girl just floated a long shot from a long ways out and it snuck under the crossbar. Down 1-0, we had to play differently in the second half.”
Morgan McKerchie tacked on an insurance goal in the 51st minute for Powers Catholic when she headed home a cross from Howe.
Powers outshot NDP by an 8-2 margin with shots directly on frame, keeping Irish sophomore forward Taylor Timko in check the whole 80 minutes. Timko had one serious scoring threat in the 10th minute but that shot was blocked.
Heather Rolls, with fine defensive play in front of her by the Chargers’ backline, made two saves for the shutout.
Alexandra Arnoldy stopped six of eight shots for Notre Dame Prep.
“I have nothing to complain about,” noted Stachura. “We were 28-11-2 in the past two years and got to the state semis this season. That’s much better than the 10-10 my first year here. Granted, we have better players, but still we’ve come a long ways. And we are very young and Powers is a team with a lot of seniors and a lot of experience. We’ll return 18 of 23 players next season, so we hope we can come back and maybe make a run at (a state title) next year.”
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