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07 / 01

The United Women Bring Home the Division Championship

WRITTEN BY: Tori Twining
PUBLISHED ON: July 01, 2018

EAST LANSING, Mich. – Going into the last regular season game, the Lansing ladies had a chance to clinch the United Women’s Soccer Midwest Division Championship with a win, and they didn’t let that opportunity pass. 

The United Women beat Genesee FC 4 – 1 Sunday afternoon to secure the division championship in their inaugural season.

“I am so happy and I couldn’t be more proud of all the girls,” Captain Dani Stephan said. “I couldn’t ask for a better team to win this with.” Stephan, who grew up playing at Dewitt, is one of several locals on the Women’s team. “Seeing my family up there, seeing so many familiar faces…just coming in and watching our games…it’s just a really cool thing,” Stephan added.

“I thought we were gutty today,” head coach Jason Crist said. “[Genesee] were playing to spoil the season and we knew we had to jump on them early.”

The women got off to an early lead. In the 8th minute, Corey Sawall headed in a ball chested by Anna Stinson in the box. The play developed from Riko Sagara’s cross into the box off a corner kick.

“It was a corner…I knew I had to be on my toes just in case it came to me,” Sawall said. “I knew I had to get a chest or something on it to make sure it went in.”

In the 19th minute, Sawall found the back of the net for the second time. Sagara set up the goal by running into the box and taking a shot of her own which was blocked. Corey Sawall collected herself with the ball in the box and sent the ball passed the keeper.

“Riko sent in a great ball,” Sawall said. “Fortunately it came to me and I was there and able to poke it in passed her.”

Lansing lead 2 – 0 at the half.

In the 48th minute, Brittany Tanner dribbled into the box passed a defender. She was able to beat the keeper one on one and scored to put Lansing up 3 – 0.

Genesee got on the scoreboard in the 82nd minute off of a penalty kick, but United got the goal differential back with a Lexi Pelafas goal in the 84th minute. Stephan sent a free kick into the box and found Pelafas in front of the net, who buried the opportunity.

“I came in a little late to the process,” Sawall said. “But by the time of my first practice, I knew this was going to be a special team…the atmosphere when we play and practice is so competitive and everyone holds others responsible.”

“We have a really good culture on our team,” keeper Grace Kraft said. “We have all became really good friends and it’s been a fun summer.”

The win also gives Lansing United the opportunity to host the regional playoffs, times and dates to be announced.

“That’s going to be cool having it right in our backyard,” Stephan said.

“We are excited. It’s such a great group of players,” Crist said. “The players have made this happen. They’ve been so committed in training…so committed in managing their schedules to get to matches. They love playing for this club and are really excited to be here.”

“I thought we could be competitive,” Crist said. “To win it in the first year, I think is a huge accomplishment and again, all credit to the players.”