All it took was one phone call for Lauren Moraitis to confirm she was making the right decision.
Mentally, the senior was absolutely burned out.
And that can happen to star soccer players on the club circuit.
It’s a cut-throat, win-at-all-costs business. College scholarships aren’t just on the line here. So are opportunities to represent your country in international tournaments. And, probably in the near future, so will a chance to make money off your name, image and likeness.
Moraitis had given her club team about everything she had in her. She had done the work. She had earned a break.
And after she signed with Cincinnati last fall, the reality set in that she didn’t necessarily need to play at the highest level of travel anymore. Her spot to play college soccer with the Bearcats was reserved.
So she decided to do what many club plays do their senior year: Try out for her high school team.
But, first, she needed to make a phone call to confirm playing in high school would be a good fit for her.
“I told her high school is a great atmosphere, and she was just looking to relax and have fun before she goes to college,” first-year Northville coach Jeannine Reddy said. “I told her we try to have fun, and we obviously still want to work hard and accomplish a lot of things, but it’s about playing with the people you go to school with, playing in front of your community and having a lot of fun .
“That’s what she wanted. She wanted that before she started her college career. I didn’t really have to sell her. She was already set on what she wanted to do. She just hadn’t done it the first three years.”
And that’s all it took. That was the reassurance Moraitis needed.
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She was one of two career club girls to join the Mustangs this spring — Michigan Jaguars FC star Emily Takahashi, who is not pursuing college soccer, being the other.
And their impact has been immediate.
Northville (16-0-5) ended the regular season with the No. 1-ranking in the Michigan High School Soccer Coaches Association’s top-10 poll in Division 1. It won both the Kensington Lakes Activities Association-West as well as the final KLAA tournament. And last week it edged rival Salem to win a district title.
And this past week, the Mustangs chased another trophy.
They downed Grosse Pointe South 6-0 to win the regional semifinal. And then, on Friday, they blanked KLAA foe Belleville 5-0 to win the regional championship.
Getting them started against the Tigers was Moraitis, who grabbed a possession near midfield, pushed it down the near sideline and lasered a shot to the opposite post to put Northville ahead 1-0 in just the 2nd minute.
A few minutes later, she placed a perfect corner kick inside the penalty box for Caroline Meloche to head in.
Do you want to have fun senior year? How about igniting a fast start for your teammates in the elite eight? Because that’s exactly what Moraitis had just done.
“When I found out Jeannine was the new coach, I just gave her a call, and she was so welcoming and a personable person,” the senior said. “She’s just really easy to talk to. I just knew she was going to push me to be a good player now and in college.
“I had already committed, so I had just decided it’d really help my confidence going into my fall season. With the coaching change, I just really like the atmosphere and the girls here. I haven’t had a day where I didn’t ‘t want to go to practice.”
The Mustangs face fifth-ranked Rochester in Tuesday’s state semifinal at Troy Athens.
The winner heads to Michigan State University for next weekend’s state championship.
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“It’s just exciting that I get to do this with my team,” Moraitis added. “And, hopefully, we get another trophy at the end of this.”
As regulation was winding down, they towed the orange boundary line in front of their bench area.
The public-address announcer at Tom Holzer Ford Field counted down the final 10 seconds of regulation.
And they just took off.
These were most of Northville’s starters. They were sidelined several minutes earlier for a job well done. Their services were no longer needed.
They got about 10 feet onto the pitch before they realized they had left to celebrate way too early.
So most of them blushed, thankfully the referee didn’t see them have too many players on the field while the match was still going on, and then they shared one giant laugh.
And in that scrum of early-celebrators was Moraitis, who was enjoying every moment of it. Talk about some reassurance.
Brandon Folsom covers high school sports in metro Detroit for Hometown Life. Follow him on Twitter @folsombrandonj,