Bloomfield Hills Women’s Soccer beats Northville 2-1 to win state title


Ava Badallo grimaced violently as she fell to her knees.

The Bloomfield Hills senior grabbed his right hand and continued to suffer pain near midfield at Demartin Soccer Complex. And then she collapsed on the grass waiting for coaches Robert Robine and Monica Reiche to save her.

Seconds earlier, she was aggressively going for a 50-50 ball in the opening overtime of the Division 1 Women’s State Soccer Championship at Michigan State.

A Northville defender had slipped on the play, and she was fine. And then Badallo also slipped. Only the West Virginia Wesleyan signee used her right hand to set up her fall, then she awkwardly tucked her thumb.

“I was like, ‘Oh, that really hurts!'” Badallo said. “I thought it was broken.”

Referee Jeremy Wittrock raised his arms and crossed them to signal the clock to stop winding up.

With 31 seconds left in the period, and another 10 minutes to go, it looked like the Black Hawks were going to end the game without one of their top scorers.

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It was the national final. Against Michigan’s No. 1 ranked team. Bloomfield Hills were the underdogs. Badallo had to be on the pitch. The midfielder had to finish the match with her teammates.

Bloomfield Hills players including Ava Badallo, right, and Drew Martin celebrate after defeating Northville in the MHSAA Division 1 Championship soccer game, Friday, June 17, 2022, in East Lansing.  Bloomfield Hills won 2-1 in a shootout.

And what? – Was it Badallo who left injured? Usually it’s his ball games that send opponents out of the game with bumps and bruises. It is she who sets the boom. It’s not the other way around. Ask his teammates. It is she who tackles them after the goals. She always starts dogpiles after hero moments.

It doesn’t matter who the hero moments are. That of Esther Rosett. That of Drew Martin. That of Emma Henry. At Avary Hall. She even had her own hero moments throughout the playoffs. Remember when she pulled off that perfect pass to Rosett for the game-winning goal against defending state champion Hartland to claim the Black Hawks’ first-ever regional title?

Yeah, there’s no way Badallo can leave the game with an overtime injury. Bloomfield Hills couldn’t afford to lose someone like her. She needed to be there for more hero moments.

And she had already had one early in the second half of Friday’s game against the Mustangs.

Brooke Green dribbled the ball along the near sideline. She edged out Brooke Pendleton of Northville. And then she faked Lauren Moraitis of Northville with a deke to her right.

Green had reached the near post with only one defender left. She passed it under the arm of Northville’s Caroline Meloche, who leaned to her left in an attempt to put a body on the cross, then the ball sailed past the net.

Badallo charged at it with a steamy header, and the goal put Bloomfield Hills ahead 1-0 in the 45th minute.

“When she beat two defenders, I was like, ‘I’ve got to get to this. It will be one of our only chances of the game. ‘” Badallo said. “We had a lot of chances, at the end, but I thought, ‘We have to capitalize on this one in particular. I just went all out.

“I don’t even know what it hit. I don’t even know if it hit my foot. I don’t even know if it was top right. I just saw it hit the back of the net , and Brooke started celebrating with me, and it was a crazy feeling.”

Green was proud to be the one to tackle Badallo this time. She grabbed Badallo and threw her to the ground. Moments later, Rosett and Alice Spiegel jumped on it and the pile of dogs began.

It turned out to be a pivotal moment for the No. 12 Black Hawks. Not just because it was Green starting the pile instead of Badallo, but because the scoring came at a premium for both teams.

Bloomfield Hills players celebrate a goal against Northville during the MHSAA Division 1 Championship soccer game Friday, June 17, 2022, at East Lansing.  Bloomfield Hills won 2-1 in a shootout.

Twice Bloomfield Hills have had goals canceled due to offside calls. Martin’s deep boomer sank into the goal but was pushed aside. And Hall’s rebound at the near post was also taken off the scoreboard.

And then Moraitis kicked a corner into the penalty area which Northville’s Kate Gonzalez headed in to tie the score in the 64th minute.

Bloomfield Hills could have been ahead, 3-1. Instead, it was a tied score to end regulation. And it was tied when Badallo left the game with a thumb injury at the end of the first overtime.

During the intermission, Reiche vigorously wrapped Badallo’s right hand, from his thumb to halfway up his forearm, in black medical tape.

“While she was wrapping it, ‘I love it, it was like, ‘Come on! Go now! Let’s wrap it fast!'” Badallo said. “I just knew I had to come back. I said, ‘Can I go back there? They were like, ‘Are you sure? Are you ready?’

“I just had to go back. I said, ‘Take me back in there.’ “”

Bloomfield Hills' Avary Hall, left, and Northville's Emily Takahashi battle during the MHSAA Division 1 Championship soccer match, Friday, June 17, 2022, in East Lansing.  Bloomfield Hills won 2-1 in a shootout.

The pain was still there as Badallo returned for another back-and-forth 10 minutes of extra time where no goals were scored and no winner was determined.

But that pain seemed to linger for Badallo in the penalty shootout.

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Martin buried the first attempt in front of Northville goaltender Simran Magnan.

And then, diving to her left, Bloomfield Hills keeper Jenica Opdahl got her hands on Moraitis’ attempt.

The next round saw Rosett make his own as well as Meloche put one on for the Mustangs.

Emma Merchant hit his own with the inside of her right foot to drive it into the right side of the net for the Black Hawks, while Opdahl once again dove and put a hand on Reese’s attempt Heaton near the left post.

And so that was it. Bloomfield Hills only needed to take one final penalty to not only win the state championship, but also to win the school’s first-ever state title in a team sport since the school district merged Andover and Lahser eight years ago.

And who else could he attempt the kick?

Northville's Kate Gonzalez heads the ball against Bloomfield Hills during the MHSAA Division 1 Championship soccer game, Friday, June 17, 2022, at East Lansing.  Bloomfield Hills won 2-1 in a shootout.

“Each time I’ve always been bottom left and I haven’t changed my mind this time around,” Badallo said. “With Jenica making those two amazing saves, and they were huge for us, it was like, ‘I win this, or at least we’ll still have a chance to win it if I miss.’ It gave me more confidence and motivation.

“I knew I had to put that in the back of the net, and I knew I was going down the left. Even if the keeper had to move a certain way, I couldn’t change my mind now because that would spoil me.

“I was like, ‘I go down to the left, and it goes in. “”

Magnan first jumped to his right. And the ball sailed into a wide open net on the opposite side.

Badallo went down to the left.

And then she went to the bottom of the pile of dogs.

It was Green who picked it up as they celebrated the 2-1 win.

“It was just crazy,” Green said. “I was on the sidelines watching her shot come in, and I just jumped up and ran right over her. We all pushed each other back. We all couldn’t breathe because we were on top of each other. It was awesome.”

Coach Alan Zakaria said he was ready to adjust his roster if Badallo couldn’t return.

But he wasn’t shocked that she vented the pain and finished the game.

The eighth-year coach also wasn’t surprised to throw the winning game.

Bloomfield Hills goaltender Jenica Opdahl makes a diving save during the shootout against Northville in the MHSAA Division 1 Championship soccer game, Friday, June 17, 2022, at East Lansing.  Bloomfield Hills won 2-1 in a shootout.

“She’s just an amazing player, and what a great student-athlete,” Zakaria said. “She’s so coachable, so adorable. She loves the game and she’s just a football fanatic. She loves playing football.

“To see her finish this, nothing could make me prouder as a coach.”

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Beset by media inquiries, Badallo was one of the last Black Hawks to walk off the field and finally celebrate with classmates, family and friends at the entrance to the athletic plaza just south of the ground.

But the wait was worth it.

The eldest had left her mark on the program, even though the state championship had left its mark on her right thumb.

Brandon Folsom covers high school sports in metro Detroit for Hometown Life. Follow him on Twitter @folsombrandonj.


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