By Terry Jacoby/Weloveannarbor.com
Sometimes, a good game needs a little extra time to determine a winner.
Sometimes, two great teams just can’t knock out the other in the allotted time so additional time is required. And sometimes, crowning a champion isn’t as easy as playing four quarters.
And when you are trying to beat the best program in forever, like Pioneer field hockey, it’s not going to be as easy as one-two-three-four. You may just need a “five” to pull it off.
And that’s exactly what Skyline accomplished on an overcast Saturday afternoon in Chelsea as the Eagles scored a 4-3 overtime victory over city rival and field hockey powerhouse Pioneer to win the school’s first Division 1 title. It was only two years ago that Skyline won its first Division 2 title to earn a place in the top tier of high school field hockey.
The top-seeded Pioneers headed into Saturday’s championship game with a perfect 16-0 record which included two close wins over the second-seeded Eagles in the regular season. But in the first half, Skyline simply dominated play by controlling possession and creating many more scoring opportunities.
The Eagles led 3-1 late in the second quarter before Pioneer made it a 3-2 game just before halftime.
But the teams must have switched jerseys at halftime because the tables turned as Pioneer took control of the game, playing most of the third and even fourth period on Skyline’s side of the pitch.
It was certainly a game of two halves – which may have been why overtime was needed.
With the score even at 3-3 after four quarters, the game headed into an extra period. Both teams came out strong – everything was on the line.
And it looked like Pioneer might just send Skyline home disappointed when Natalie Millman found herself in front of the Eagles’ goal. The talented midfield/forward took a shot from close range but Skyline goalie Madeleine Willacker made a fantastic save to save Skyline’s season.
Just a few minutes later, Skyline’s Cameron Wiseman ran down a long pass from Sadie Schultz. The super sophomore was able to shield herself from the Pioneer defender and then turned a fired a shot into the Pioneer net.
The goal sent Wiseman jumping into the air, the Skyline bench racing onto the field, and the Eagles to its first D-1 field hockey title. It was quite an emotional and dramatic sendoff to an extremely well-played and hard-fought championship game.
Wiseman scored the game’s first goal off a rebound after a corner with 2:41 left in the first period to give the Eagles a 1-0 lead. It was the first time Pioneer had trailed all season.
With 7:46 left in the second quarter, Skyline’s Corinne Courtright hit a rocket off a corner to make it 2-0 and the Eagles were flying.
But everyone in the stands at Chelsea knew this game was far from over. Pioneer wasn’t just going to walk away into the mist without a fight. And fight they did – and score.
Less than 3 minutes later, Autumn Campbell put the Pioneers on the board to cut the lead to 2-1.
But Skyline answered right back on a goal by Morgan Nalepa to push the lead to 3-1 with 4:20 to play until halftime.
Pioneer answered the answer with another goal. With 1:03 left in the first half, Lily Soldan scored to make it 3-2.
Early in the third quarter, the Pioneers scored the equalizer on a goal by Soldan to make it 3-3 with 11:38 to play in the third quarter.
The Eagles opened the playoffs with an 8-0 win over Novi in the first round and then scored a 7-0 win over Saline on Thursday in a semifinal game at Dexter.
Meanwhile, Pioneer rolled over Forest Hills in its first playoff game. On Thursday, the Pioneers knocked out defending champion Dexter 3-0.
Skyline finishes the season with a 15-2-1 record. And a D-1 State Title.[field hockey]