Northern Stars win Petoskey tourney

IRON MOUNTAIN – Northern Stars U11 and U12 girls teams competed in the Petoskey Invitational Soccer Tournament this past weekend.

A field of 120 soccer teams, mainly from Lower Michigan, competed in the tournament.

The Stars U11 girls went undefeated in their championship run, beating Traverse Bay 5-4 in the finals 5-4.

Josie Rock scored the go-ahead goal with only a few minutes left to play.

“The final game was very close,” said Coach John Bittinger. “Both teams were evenly matched and it was a very physical game. I am just glad we didn’t have to go to extended time.

“This was our fourth game played in the hot temperatures and after another hour of being pushed around in the finals the kids were exhausted. I am not sure how much we had left in the tank at that point.”

Northern Stars U12 girls finished second, losing to Western Michigan Storm 2-1 in the championship game.

In the semifinals, the girls won on a shootout 3-2. Both teams were scoreless in regular time and overtimes leading to the final tiebreaker of a penalty kick shootout.

Aziza Burgoon, Amber Butterfield and Brooke Bittinger each connected on their kicks. Goalies Gabby Carry and Carissa Palmcook also posted three more shutouts for the season during this tournament.

“The shootout was exciting, but it really took its toll on our girls,” coach Bittinger said. “It was a long game and we lost two key players with injuries that kept them out of the finals. We were down to one substitute for the last game. We still gave Storm quite a game despite the lack of available players.”

Bittinger expressed pride in the performance of both teams.

“We knew there would be tough competition in Lower Michigan,” Bittinger said. “But we have been playing top teams throughout Wisconsin for the last few months, so the girls were well prepared and handled everything that was in front of them.”

With one day of rest, both teams traveled to Kimberly, Wis., for league competition.

Kensie St John on the U12 team and Josie Rock on the U11 team both recorded hat tricks in their respective games.