The history book for high school field hockey in Michigan is dominated by Ann Arbor schools and two of those schools squared off in the present on Thursday afternoon in an early season showdown of state powerhouses.
Huron beat Dexter in last year’s state championship game to earn the title “State Champions.” The state champs took the field on Thursday against the team that had earned that title the previous three years.
After a scoreless first half, the River Rats turned this showdown on its heels with two goals in the first 4 minutes of the second half to not only cause a time out from Pioneer but change the entire dynamic of the game. Having to come back from a two-goal deficit in field hockey against a good team is difficult – against the state champion loaded for a repeat, nearly impossible.
Despite some good pressure and no-quit attitude from the visiting Pioneers, Huron scored an impressive 2-0 victory over their city rival to take an early step back to the pinnacle of the sport.
Afua NKansah-Andoh sent a corner pass to the middle of the field to teammate Anna Scott. The All-State First Team senior handled the ball cleanly and fired a shot from about 25 yards toward the Pioneer goal. On its way toward the goal, the ball was tipped and deflected into the upper left corner to give the River Rats a 1-0 lead just 2 minutes into the second half.
Less than 2 minutes later, the River Rats scored again. Senior Minna Tremonti made a great play to keep the ball in play and then sent a perfect pass out front to teammate Allison Sabb. The senior one-timed it on a shot Pioneer keeper Mimi Maixner had no shot at stopping as the hosts went ahead 2-0.
At the 21:47 mark of the second half, Huron keeper Lee Stewart made a big kick save to keep the Pioneers out of the net. Pioneer continued to put on the pressure and came close to scoring again at around the 15 minute mark.
Both teams had some good opportunities to score in the final 15 minutes but the 2-0 score held until the final whistle.
After a fairly even start to the first half, the River Rats put on some pressure. A couple of close chances almost resulted in goals but Maixner kicked those opportunities to the side.
The field then tilted the other way as the Pioneers seemed to gain momentum and take control late in the half. But Huron Stewart and the River Rats were able to keep the visitors off the board.
The River Rats dominated the final seconds – and beyond – in the first half. But the Pioneers put up a strong defensive stand to send the game to halftime in a scoreless draw.