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Pontiac NDP sets the tone early against Fenton in each half to reach D2 state semifinal WITH PHOTO GALLERY

  • 2016 Regional Champs Notre Dame Prep. Notre Dame Prep and Fenton High School squared off in Thursday's regional final. Notre Dame came away with the 2-1 victory. (MIPrepZone photo by Tom Tomich)
  • Nadia Burbank played a strong all around game for the Irish. Notre Dame Prep and Fenton High School squared off in Thursday's regional final. Notre Dame came away with the 2-1 victory. (MIPrepZone photo by Tom Tomich)
  • Erika Wiest sends a corner kick towards the goal. Notre Dame Prep and Fenton High School squared off in Thursday's regional final. Notre Dame came away with the 2-1 victory. (MIPrepZone photo by Tom Tomich)
  • Sophie Crews of Fenton stops the ball in regional action Thursday. Notre Dame Prep and Fenton High School squared off in Thursday's regional final. Notre Dame came away with the 2-1 victory. (MIPrepZone photo by Tom Tomich)
  • Notre Dame Prep and Fenton High School squared off in Thursday's regional final. Notre Dame came away with the 2-1 victory. (MIPrepZone photo by Tom Tomich)
  • Notre Dame Prep and Fenton High School squared off in Thursday's regional final. Notre Dame came away with the 2-1 victory. (MIPrepZone photo by Tom Tomich)
  • Notre Dame Prep and Fenton High School squared off in Thursday's regional final. Notre Dame came away with the 2-1 victory. (MIPrepZone photo by Tom Tomich)
  • Notre Dame Prep and Fenton High School squared off in Thursday's regional final. Notre Dame came away with the 2-1 victory. (MIPrepZone photo by Tom Tomich)
  • Notre Dame Prep and Fenton High School squared off in Thursday's regional final. Notre Dame came away with the 2-1 victory. (MIPrepZone photo by Tom Tomich)
  • Notre Dame Prep and Fenton High School squared off in Thursday's regional final. Notre Dame came away with the 2-1 victory. (MIPrepZone photo by Tom Tomich)
  • Notre Dame Prep and Fenton High School squared off in Thursday's regional final. Notre Dame came away with the 2-1 victory. (MIPrepZone photo by Tom Tomich)
  • Notre Dame Prep and Fenton High School squared off in Thursday's regional final. Notre Dame came away with the 2-1 victory. (MIPrepZone photo by Tom Tomich)
  • Notre Dame Prep and Fenton High School squared off in Thursday's regional final. Notre Dame came away with the 2-1 victory. (MIPrepZone photo by Tom Tomich)
  • Notre Dame Prep and Fenton High School squared off in Thursday's regional final. Notre Dame came away with the 2-1 victory. (MIPrepZone photo by Tom Tomich)
  • Notre Dame Prep and Fenton High School squared off in Thursday's regional final. Notre Dame came away with the 2-1 victory. (MIPrepZone photo by Tom Tomich)
  • Notre Dame Prep and Fenton High School squared off in Thursday's regional final. Notre Dame came away with the 2-1 victory. (MIPrepZone photo by Tom Tomich)
  • Notre Dame Prep and Fenton High School squared off in Thursday's regional final. Notre Dame came away with the 2-1 victory. (MIPrepZone photo by Tom Tomich)
  • Notre Dame Prep and Fenton High School squared off in Thursday's regional final. Notre Dame came away with the 2-1 victory. (MIPrepZone photo by Tom Tomich)
  • Notre Dame Prep and Fenton High School squared off in Thursday's regional final. Notre Dame came away with the 2-1 victory. (MIPrepZone photo by Tom Tomich)
  • Notre Dame Prep and Fenton High School squared off in Thursday's regional final. Notre Dame came away with the 2-1 victory. (MIPrepZone photo by Tom Tomich)
  • Notre Dame Prep and Fenton High School squared off in Thursday's regional final. Notre Dame came away with the 2-1 victory. (MIPrepZone photo by Tom Tomich)
  • Notre Dame Prep and Fenton High School squared off in Thursday's regional final. Notre Dame came away with the 2-1 victory. (MIPrepZone photo by Tom Tomich)
  • Notre Dame Prep and Fenton High School squared off in Thursday's regional final. Notre Dame came away with the 2-1 victory. (MIPrepZone photo by Tom Tomich)
  • Notre Dame Prep and Fenton High School squared off in Thursday's regional final. Notre Dame came away with the 2-1 victory. (MIPrepZone photo by Tom Tomich)
  • Notre Dame Prep and Fenton High School squared off in Thursday's regional final. Notre Dame came away with the 2-1 victory. (MIPrepZone photo by Tom Tomich)
  • Notre Dame Prep and Fenton High School squared off in Thursday's regional final. Notre Dame came away with the 2-1 victory. (MIPrepZone photo by Tom Tomich)
  • Notre Dame Prep and Fenton High School squared off in Thursday's regional final. Notre Dame came away with the 2-1 victory. (MIPrepZone photo by Tom Tomich)
  • Notre Dame Prep and Fenton High School squared off in Thursday's regional final. Notre Dame came away with the 2-1 victory. (MIPrepZone photo by Tom Tomich)
  • Notre Dame Prep and Fenton High School squared off in Thursday's regional final. Notre Dame came away with the 2-1 victory. (MIPrepZone photo by Tom Tomich)
  • Notre Dame Prep and Fenton High School squared off in Thursday's regional final. Notre Dame came away with the 2-1 victory. (MIPrepZone photo by Tom Tomich)
  • Notre Dame Prep and Fenton High School squared off in Thursday's regional final. Notre Dame came away with the 2-1 victory. (MIPrepZone photo by Tom Tomich)
  • Notre Dame Prep and Fenton High School squared off in Thursday's regional final. Notre Dame came away with the 2-1 victory. (MIPrepZone photo by Tom Tomich)
  • Notre Dame Prep and Fenton High School squared off in Thursday's regional final. Notre Dame came away with the 2-1 victory. (MIPrepZone photo by Tom Tomich)
  • Notre Dame Prep and Fenton High School squared off in Thursday's regional final. Notre Dame came away with the 2-1 victory. (MIPrepZone photo by Tom Tomich)
  • Notre Dame Prep and Fenton High School squared off in Thursday's regional final. Notre Dame came away with the 2-1 victory. (MIPrepZone photo by Tom Tomich)
  • Notre Dame Prep and Fenton High School squared off in Thursday's regional final. Notre Dame came away with the 2-1 victory. (MIPrepZone photo by Tom Tomich)
  • Notre Dame Prep and Fenton High School squared off in Thursday's regional final. Notre Dame came away with the 2-1 victory. (MIPrepZone photo by Tom Tomich)
  • Notre Dame Prep and Fenton High School squared off in Thursday's regional final. Notre Dame came away with the 2-1 victory. (MIPrepZone photo by Tom Tomich)
  • Notre Dame Prep and Fenton High School squared off in Thursday's regional final. Notre Dame came away with the 2-1 victory. (MIPrepZone photo by Tom Tomich)
  • Notre Dame Prep and Fenton High School squared off in Thursday's regional final. Notre Dame came away with the 2-1 victory. (MIPrepZone photo by Tom Tomich)
  • Notre Dame Prep and Fenton High School squared off in Thursday's regional final. Notre Dame came away with the 2-1 victory. (MIPrepZone photo by Tom Tomich)
  • Notre Dame Prep and Fenton High School squared off in Thursday's regional final. Notre Dame came away with the 2-1 victory. (MIPrepZone photo by Tom Tomich)
  • Notre Dame Prep and Fenton High School squared off in Thursday's regional final. Notre Dame came away with the 2-1 victory. (MIPrepZone photo by Tom Tomich)
  • Notre Dame Prep and Fenton High School squared off in Thursday's regional final. Notre Dame came away with the 2-1 victory. (MIPrepZone photo by Tom Tomich)
  • Notre Dame Prep and Fenton High School squared off in Thursday's regional final. Notre Dame came away with the 2-1 victory. (MIPrepZone photo by Tom Tomich)
  • Notre Dame Prep and Fenton High School squared off in Thursday's regional final. Notre Dame came away with the 2-1 victory. (MIPrepZone photo by Tom Tomich)
  • Notre Dame Prep and Fenton High School squared off in Thursday's regional final. Notre Dame came away with the 2-1 victory. (MIPrepZone photo by Tom Tomich)
  • Notre Dame Prep and Fenton High School squared off in Thursday's regional final. Notre Dame came away with the 2-1 victory. (MIPrepZone photo by Tom Tomich)
  • Notre Dame Prep and Fenton High School squared off in Thursday's regional final. Notre Dame came away with the 2-1 victory. (MIPrepZone photo by Tom Tomich)
  • Notre Dame Prep and Fenton High School squared off in Thursday's regional final. Notre Dame came away with the 2-1 victory. (MIPrepZone photo by Tom Tomich)

ORTONVILLE – The Pontiac Notre Dame Prep Fighting Irish scored early in each half then held on to beat the Fenton Tigers 2-1, advancing to the Division 2 state semifinals.

“Erika (Wiest) and I were on the team our freshman year when we were going to states, so it’s really special for us to finish our career here,” senior co-captain Rosella LoChirco said. “I think it just says a lot to how deep our team is with talent to pull this together, fight hard battles every game, and make it all the way,”

Notre Dame Prep wasted no time getting started offensively. Less than two minutes in, Lochirco fired a cross through the box that was flicked on by Celia Gaynor toward the back post. Mariana McPartlin charged down the left flank and met the ball at the post, tapping it in for a 1-0 lead.

“We talked in the locker room about coming out and, to use a boxing term, making sure we give the first punch, and the first solid shot of the game, and we definitely did that,” Notre Dame head coach Jim Stachura said.

Notre Dame scored again early in the second half off a corner kick. The Tigers cleared the initial corner, but Notre Dame immediately recycled possession, sending the ball back into the box and eventually Olivia Mears found Gaynor in front of net for a quick toe poke and a 2-0 lead.

“If you look at teams that are quality teams in high school, you tend to see a lot of teams that do well on corners and set pieces. We’ve been really good on corners and set pieces both defending corners and taking corners. Our second goal on the corner was a perfect example of that. We didn’t win the first ball, but we leaked out, won the second ball,” Stachura said. “Those things are going to be important as we go to the next step.”

TO READ A FEATURE ON NDP’S TITLE RUN CLICK HERE

Fenton found some offense late, getting a goal from Margaret Berry with 6:30 to play and adding some drama to the final minutes as Fenton pressed for a tying goal.

“That’s the first time we’ve been behind in a game in a little over two months. So it was a little different for us,” Sullivan said. “I thought we fought hard to the end. I thought our seniors were great. They pushed us all the way to the end. Notre Dame earned it.”

But ultimately, the Notre Dame defense was just too good. Nadia Burbank, Payton Williams, Eileen Haig, and Cassidy Weist just shut down the Fenton attack for long stretches, especially Fenton’s bread-and-butter direct balls.

“Our defense really did a good job of reading and reacting to what they (Fenton) were going to do,” Stachura said. “It was a great effort by the back line today.”

“Their number 4 (Burbank)in the back is a special player,” Sullivan said. “She got to everything, so we had a lot of trouble generating any offense, and I think mainly because of her. She’s a tremendous player.”

With the win, Pontiac Notre Dame Prep improves to 19-1-3. The Fighting Irish return to the state semifinals for the first time since 2013, when they lost in the Division 3 final to Grand Rapids South Christian.

Fenton finishes the year 22-4.

Last Updated: 6/9/2016 9:28:37 PM EST


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