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Notre Dame Prep wins battle of state-ranked teams, downs familiar foe Regina to advance WITH PHOTO GALLERY

  • Rosella LoChirco (right), Pontiac Notre Dame Prep, celebrates with teammate Elle McGuire, after notching a first period goal during opening round district soccer action against Regina at Prep Tuesday, May 31, 2016. Prep defeated Regina 3-1. (Larry McKee - For the Oakland Press)
  • Audrey Fleming, Regina, goes up for a header pass during opening round district soccer action against Pontiac Notre Dame Prep at Prep Tuesday, May 31, 2016. Regina lost the match 3-1. (Larry McKee - For the Oakland Press)
  • Nadia Burbank, Pontiac Notre Dame Prep, goes up for a header during opening round district soccer action against Warren Regina at Prep Tuesday, May 31, 2016. Prep defeated Regina 3-1. (Larry McKee - For the Oakland Press)
  • Meghan Jones, Warren Regina, makes a play during opening round district soccer action against Pontiac Notre Dame Prep at Prep Tuesday, May 31, 2016. Prep defeated Regina 3-1. (Larry McKee - For the Oakland Press)
  • Pontiac Notre Dame Prep defeats Warren Regina 3-1 in opening round district soccer action at Prep Tuesday, May 31, 2016. (MIPrepZone photo by LARRY McKEE)
  • Pontiac Notre Dame Prep defeats Warren Regina 3-1 in opening round district soccer action at Prep Tuesday, May 31, 2016. (MIPrepZone photo by LARRY McKEE)
  • Pontiac Notre Dame Prep defeats Warren Regina 3-1 in opening round district soccer action at Prep Tuesday, May 31, 2016. (MIPrepZone photo by LARRY McKEE)
  • Pontiac Notre Dame Prep defeats Warren Regina 3-1 in opening round district soccer action at Prep Tuesday, May 31, 2016. (MIPrepZone photo by LARRY McKEE)
  • Pontiac Notre Dame Prep defeats Warren Regina 3-1 in opening round district soccer action at Prep Tuesday, May 31, 2016. (MIPrepZone photo by LARRY McKEE)
  • Pontiac Notre Dame Prep defeats Warren Regina 3-1 in opening round district soccer action at Prep Tuesday, May 31, 2016. (MIPrepZone photo by LARRY McKEE)
  • Pontiac Notre Dame Prep defeats Warren Regina 3-1 in opening round district soccer action at Prep Tuesday, May 31, 2016. (MIPrepZone photo by LARRY McKEE)
  • Pontiac Notre Dame Prep defeats Warren Regina 3-1 in opening round district soccer action at Prep Tuesday, May 31, 2016. (MIPrepZone photo by LARRY McKEE)
  • Pontiac Notre Dame Prep defeats Warren Regina 3-1 in opening round district soccer action at Prep Tuesday, May 31, 2016. (MIPrepZone photo by LARRY McKEE)
  • Pontiac Notre Dame Prep defeats Warren Regina 3-1 in opening round district soccer action at Prep Tuesday, May 31, 2016. (MIPrepZone photo by LARRY McKEE)
  • Pontiac Notre Dame Prep defeats Warren Regina 3-1 in opening round district soccer action at Prep Tuesday, May 31, 2016. (MIPrepZone photo by LARRY McKEE)
  • Pontiac Notre Dame Prep defeats Warren Regina 3-1 in opening round district soccer action at Prep Tuesday, May 31, 2016. (MIPrepZone photo by LARRY McKEE)
  • Pontiac Notre Dame Prep defeats Warren Regina 3-1 in opening round district soccer action at Prep Tuesday, May 31, 2016. (MIPrepZone photo by LARRY McKEE)
  • Pontiac Notre Dame Prep defeats Warren Regina 3-1 in opening round district soccer action at Prep Tuesday, May 31, 2016. (MIPrepZone photo by LARRY McKEE)
  • Pontiac Notre Dame Prep defeats Warren Regina 3-1 in opening round district soccer action at Prep Tuesday, May 31, 2016. (MIPrepZone photo by LARRY McKEE)
  • Pontiac Notre Dame Prep defeats Warren Regina 3-1 in opening round district soccer action at Prep Tuesday, May 31, 2016. (MIPrepZone photo by LARRY McKEE)
  • Pontiac Notre Dame Prep defeats Warren Regina 3-1 in opening round district soccer action at Prep Tuesday, May 31, 2016. (MIPrepZone photo by LARRY McKEE)
  • Pontiac Notre Dame Prep defeats Warren Regina 3-1 in opening round district soccer action at Prep Tuesday, May 31, 2016. (MIPrepZone photo by LARRY McKEE)
  • Pontiac Notre Dame Prep defeats Warren Regina 3-1 in opening round district soccer action at Prep Tuesday, May 31, 2016. (MIPrepZone photo by LARRY McKEE)
  • Pontiac Notre Dame Prep defeats Warren Regina 3-1 in opening round district soccer action at Prep Tuesday, May 31, 2016. (MIPrepZone photo by LARRY McKEE)
  • Pontiac Notre Dame Prep defeats Warren Regina 3-1 in opening round district soccer action at Prep Tuesday, May 31, 2016. (MIPrepZone photo by LARRY McKEE)
  • Pontiac Notre Dame Prep defeats Warren Regina 3-1 in opening round district soccer action at Prep Tuesday, May 31, 2016. (MIPrepZone photo by LARRY McKEE)
  • Pontiac Notre Dame Prep defeats Warren Regina 3-1 in opening round district soccer action at Prep Tuesday, May 31, 2016. (MIPrepZone photo by LARRY McKEE)
  • Pontiac Notre Dame Prep defeats Warren Regina 3-1 in opening round district soccer action at Prep Tuesday, May 31, 2016. (MIPrepZone photo by LARRY McKEE)
  • Pontiac Notre Dame Prep defeats Warren Regina 3-1 in opening round district soccer action at Prep Tuesday, May 31, 2016. (MIPrepZone photo by LARRY McKEE)
  • Pontiac Notre Dame Prep defeats Warren Regina 3-1 in opening round district soccer action at Prep Tuesday, May 31, 2016. (MIPrepZone photo by LARRY McKEE)
  • Pontiac Notre Dame Prep defeats Warren Regina 3-1 in opening round district soccer action at Prep Tuesday, May 31, 2016. (MIPrepZone photo by LARRY McKEE)
  • Pontiac Notre Dame Prep defeats Warren Regina 3-1 in opening round district soccer action at Prep Tuesday, May 31, 2016. (MIPrepZone photo by LARRY McKEE)
  • Pontiac Notre Dame Prep defeats Warren Regina 3-1 in opening round district soccer action at Prep Tuesday, May 31, 2016. (MIPrepZone photo by LARRY McKEE)
  • Pontiac Notre Dame Prep defeats Warren Regina 3-1 in opening round district soccer action at Prep Tuesday, May 31, 2016. (MIPrepZone photo by LARRY McKEE)
  • Pontiac Notre Dame Prep defeats Warren Regina 3-1 in opening round district soccer action at Prep Tuesday, May 31, 2016. (MIPrepZone photo by LARRY McKEE)
  • Pontiac Notre Dame Prep defeats Warren Regina 3-1 in opening round district soccer action at Prep Tuesday, May 31, 2016. (MIPrepZone photo by LARRY McKEE)
  • Pontiac Notre Dame Prep defeats Warren Regina 3-1 in opening round district soccer action at Prep Tuesday, May 31, 2016. (MIPrepZone photo by LARRY McKEE)
  • Pontiac Notre Dame Prep defeats Warren Regina 3-1 in opening round district soccer action at Prep Tuesday, May 31, 2016. (MIPrepZone photo by LARRY McKEE)
  • Pontiac Notre Dame Prep defeats Warren Regina 3-1 in opening round district soccer action at Prep Tuesday, May 31, 2016. (MIPrepZone photo by LARRY McKEE)
  • Pontiac Notre Dame Prep defeats Warren Regina 3-1 in opening round district soccer action at Prep Tuesday, May 31, 2016. (MIPrepZone photo by LARRY McKEE)
  • Pontiac Notre Dame Prep defeats Warren Regina 3-1 in opening round district soccer action at Prep Tuesday, May 31, 2016. (MIPrepZone photo by LARRY McKEE)
  • Pontiac Notre Dame Prep defeats Warren Regina 3-1 in opening round district soccer action at Prep Tuesday, May 31, 2016. (MIPrepZone photo by LARRY McKEE)
  • Pontiac Notre Dame Prep defeats Warren Regina 3-1 in opening round district soccer action at Prep Tuesday, May 31, 2016. (MIPrepZone photo by LARRY McKEE)
  • Pontiac Notre Dame Prep defeats Warren Regina 3-1 in opening round district soccer action at Prep Tuesday, May 31, 2016. (MIPrepZone photo by LARRY McKEE)
  • Pontiac Notre Dame Prep defeats Warren Regina 3-1 in opening round district soccer action at Prep Tuesday, May 31, 2016. (MIPrepZone photo by LARRY McKEE)
  • Pontiac Notre Dame Prep defeats Warren Regina 3-1 in opening round district soccer action at Prep Tuesday, May 31, 2016. (MIPrepZone photo by LARRY McKEE)
  • Pontiac Notre Dame Prep defeats Warren Regina 3-1 in opening round district soccer action at Prep Tuesday, May 31, 2016. (MIPrepZone photo by LARRY McKEE)
  • Pontiac Notre Dame Prep defeats Warren Regina 3-1 in opening round district soccer action at Prep Tuesday, May 31, 2016. (MIPrepZone photo by LARRY McKEE)
  • Pontiac Notre Dame Prep defeats Warren Regina 3-1 in opening round district soccer action at Prep Tuesday, May 31, 2016. (MIPrepZone photo by LARRY McKEE)
  • Pontiac Notre Dame Prep defeats Warren Regina 3-1 in opening round district soccer action at Prep Tuesday, May 31, 2016. (MIPrepZone photo by LARRY McKEE)

PONTIAC – The Pontiac Notre Dame Prep Fighting Irish defeated the Warren Regina Saddlelites 3-1 in a battle of Top 10 teams in the opening round of the MHSAA playoffs.

The teams had played twice before with both games ending in a 0-0 draw, and early on it looked like this game might be headed the same way as the teams struggled to get shots on net for most of the first half. The Saddlelites had the better of the possession for much of the half. The Regina midfield, particularly Alexis Finazzo and Mallory Lueck, did a lot of box to box work while probing for an opening in a stout Notre Dame defense. But led by center backs Nadia Burbank and Payton Williams, the Irish backline kept Regina at bay until the Notre Dame offense could get going.

“I’m super proud of my back four today, winning balls and just grinding it out and battling,” Notre Dame head coach Jim Stachura said.

“Through a lot of the first half, we did a real nice job of knocking the ball around. Not a whole came of it unfortunately,” Regina head coach Ryan Elchuk said. “They (Notre Dame) were more opportunistic within their attacking third opportunities.”

The Fighting Irish opened the scoring with 5:56 to play in the half when Olivia Mears chipped a ball into the six yard box and Rosella LoChirco hustled over, beat the goalkeeper to the ball as it came down and re-directed it in for a 1-0 lead.

Notre Dame Prep doubled its lead with 55 seconds to play in the half off a corner kick. Cassidy Wiest took the corner, firing the ball back post. The ball took a deflection back to the near side where Celia Gaynor got a foot on the ball and tapped it in. The Irish then added a third goal – this one by Mears – early in the second half for a 3-0 lead, all three goals coming in a span of just under 11 minutes.

“That’s been us all year though. We’ve been scoring in bunches. It takes us a little while to get going, but we get the first one and then they put the pedal to the metal and get the second one,” Stachura said. “We’re a streaky team like that”

After that, the Fighting Irish sat back to defend the lead. Regina was able to carry the play for the remainder of the game, and the Saddlelites broke through with 22:36 to play on a rocket from Samantha Stehlin. But that was the only goal Regina could muster despite coming close a couple more times, including skimming the bar with about one minute to play.

Notre Dame Prep (15-1-3) advances on to face Cranbrook on Thursday.

“Cranbrook is well coached,” Notre Dame Prep coach Jim Stachura said. “They have a lot of players that gave Marian a really hard time last year, and we definitely won’t be taking them lightly.”

Regina finishes the year 10-4-5.

“It was the most successful season that I’ve been a part of here. We’ve done things that we’ve never done before this year or especially over the course of the last four years with the senior class,” Elchuk said. “This year was the pinnacle of what we’ve been working towards with a group of players that we truthfully believe in over the last few years. It’s definitely a disappointment to go out of the state tournament this early, but we can’t deprive ourselves of those feelings of success because we’ve come a really, really long way.”

Last Updated: 5/31/2016 11:15:36 PM EST


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