It’s simple, really. If you never lose, then you have to win it all. The Huron field hockey team never lost a game during an incredible run in 2017 that concluded on Saturday the only way it could if you never lose – with a Division 1 state championship.
Dexter put an end to Pioneer’s run at a fourth straight Division 1 field hockey title on Thursday in a semifinal shootout victory to earn a spot in the state finals. But getting past a second Ann Arbor school proved too tough a task as the host River Rats scored a 2-1 victory over the Dreadnaughts in the finals on Saturday for the school’s first D-1 title since 2013.
The River Rats, who defeated Marion 6-2 in the semifinal game, finished off a perfect 19-0-1 season in which they scored three or more goals 14 times. The tie came against Pioneer on Sept. 7. They defeated the state power and city rival Pioneers 2-1 on Oct. 16.
“Dexter was a worthy opponent and it was a good game,” said Huron Coach Lauren Hall. “They play field hockey really well. Many times you will come across a team that isn’t coached by someone with a field hockey background and they will play more like ice hockey than field hockey. But Dexter wasn’t one of those teams and we had a much nicer game and cleaner game and well-played game.
“It was a fun game. I felt that we dominated the game. We had a lot more shots on goals, a lot more corners. But Dexter is a dangerous team with some fast players and some very good, young players. And they also had an excellent goalie who turned away a lot of shots. We were happy to get two shots by her.”
Huron scored first to take a 1-0 lead.
Hall said the River Rats have had a few breakdowns in the midfield during the season which allows the opponent to get a breakaway. And that’s what happened against the Dreadnaughts on Saturday.
“They got a nice breakaway on us and scored,” Hall said, of Dexter’s goal that tied the game at 1-1.
The River Rats scored the game-winning goal in the second half.
“We came back (after Dexter scored) and managed the rest of the game,” Hall said. “And when they put some pressure on late in the game we got into our defensive mode and were able to keep them out of the circle.”
Last year was Hall’s first season with the River Rats and she had a very young team to work with – young, but still very talented.
“We had a lot of sophomores who got better during the season,” she said. “We lost in the state semifinal game last year with a young team. So I felt that if we organized ourselves and played well as a team we would have a good shot at getting into the state tournament this year.”
What’s scary for the rest of the league is that Huron ran the table this year with still a young team. Huron only losses two seniors off the roster so they should remain a formidable foe hungry to defend its state title in 2018.