And the seniors shall lead them.
Winning a state championship is always a challenge but not as challenging as winning again the next year. Teams always want to knock off the defending champs so the Huron field hockey team was well aware of the bullseye on the back of their jerseys.
It didn’t matter. A strong group of seniors helped lead the River Rats back to the championship game on Saturday where Huron turned an impressive 1-0 win over Saline at Dexter High School into back-to-back Division 1 state titles.
The game was well-played and competitive with the River Rats keeping the pressure on the Hornets for most of the game. The game was scoreless in the first half.
CAPTAINS TALK ABOUT GOING BACK TO BACK: https://weloveannarbor.com/2018/10/29/behind-the-scenes-huron-captains-help-lead-the-river-rats-to-consecutive-state-titles/
At 17:44 of the second half, Huron’s tenacity paid off when Allison Sabb scored the only goal of the game. The senior scored off a rebound shot from the corner to give the River Rats a 1-0 lead and held on the rest of the game. Sabb has scored more than 100 goals in her career, including last year’s game winner. Saturday’s ranks right up there with the best.
“Winning the state championship two years in a row is amazing,” she said. “It’s another one of my favorite goals that I have scored at Huron.”
It also was her 105th goal as a River Rat.
Huron came into the game as the second seed, to Saline’s first seed. But the seeds were reversed in the championship game.
“The game was incredibly competitive, probably the hardest game of the season,” said Huron senior Anna Scott. “Saline is such a strong team and the championship could have gone either way.”
Scott said both teams dominated, with Huron controlling most of the first half and Saline possessing the ball mostly in the second half.
“We had a couple of great scoring opportunities in the first half but were unable to finish,” she said.
Here is how Scott saw the game-winning goal: “Our lone goal came off of a corner around 10 minutes in the second half. Afua inserted the ball to me, I shot the ball just off the right post where Minna caught it and tried lifting it on cage. Saline’s goalie deflected it, and the ball bounced around the goal line until Allison Sabb was able to push it over.”
The rest of the game was spent trying to keep the 1-0 lead. And that’s exactly what the River Rats did, led by senior goalie Lee Stewart who recorded the shutout.
“It was nerve-wracking because Saline really pressured us,” Scott said. “I really think our defense was able to keep it together and shut them down outside of our circle. Even though Saline mostly controlled the ball for the rest of the game, we didn’t allow them any shots off or penalty corners. Coach Lauren (Hall) always says that offense wins games (which is true) but in this case, it was really our defense that kept us at that 1-0 lead and secured the championship.”