Conference clincher: Marquette Redettes win Upper Peninsula Soccer Conference title with 1-0 home victory over Iron Mountain

Marquette’s Sierra Carlson goes toe-to-toe with an Iron Mountain player for the ball on Tuesday night at Marquette Senior High School. (Journal photo by Rachel Oakley)

“Neither team quit, so everybody had to play hard until they knew it was over.” — Jeff Collins, head coach, Marquette girls soccer

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MARQUETTE — With a 1-0 win over Iron Mountain at home Tuesday night, the Marquette Senior High School soccer team clinched the first Upper Peninsula Soccer Conference championship in its inaugural season.

Marquette head coach Jeff Collins said he was pleased his team could win the inaugural trophy on its home turf.

“We’re very proud and honored to be the first to win this,” Collins said. “We wanted to be the first ones to get our names on the trophy, and it was a sign of how hard our girls have worked this season.”

Marquette was able shut out Iron Mountain at William Hart Stadium for the crucial conference win with one game remaining in its regular season.

Marquette goalie Caitlin Palomaki said the game was a nailbiter until the final horn sounded.

“It was a very aggressive game,” Palomaki said. “The whole night was back and forth, and both teams had a lot of scoring opportunities.”

Collins, who is in his first season as Marquette’s head coach after previously serving as the assistant coach, said he expected his defense would need a huge game to come out with the win.

“It’s always a battle when you play Iron Mountain,” Collins said. “It was a very physical and quick game. No one could take a long time with their touches or someone was on them on both sides.

“Neither team quit, so everybody had to play hard until they knew it was over.”

Sierra Carlson set the tone for Marquette early on, netting a goal for a 1-0 Redette lead less than five minutes in.

Palomaki said it was important for Marquette to get the first goal and establish momentum.

“We knew from that point that if we let in a goal it would only be tied, so the pressure was off and we could play more aggressive,” Palomaki said. “Scoring a goal right from the start also brings down the other team, so you can keep pounding your offense when the team isn’t attacking as hard.”

The Mountaineers (8-3, 2-3), according to coach Zack Frorenza, got off to a slow start and had “numerous quality chances through the last 60 minutes of the game.”

“Marquette controlled the opening portion of the game but the second half was largely dominated by us,” Frorenza said. “We generated a few really good chances and their goalie made a couple big saves.”

On one chance, Mountaineers’ Brianna Hoffman was able to get around the Redettes goalie. As the ball was about to roll in, a Marquette defender kicked the ball out of the goal.

“I think we did well to generate the chances we had,” Frorenza said. “Their field was very narrow and soccer fields are usually much wider. It really causes things to get compact and there isn’t much space to break down defenders out there.”

The Redettes have started playing on the school’s artificial turf football field this spring.

Marquette finishes its regular season at 4 p.m. Thursday in Houghton before heading to the Leland High School Invitational on Saturday in Leland.

Information compiled by Journal Sports Writer Ray Bressette with contributions from the Iron Mountain Daily News. Bressette’s email address is rbressette@miningjournal.net.