Pioneer boys lacrosse unbeaten and looking to join the state's upper echelon
Pioneer High School boys lacrosse coach James Corey could be heard from the top of the stands, screaming at his team after a lackluster first quarter.
“We couldn’t have played worse,” he yelled, telling his team it was the worst quarter they played all season.
Corey’s words may not have fired his team up the way he liked, but the Pioneers did respond to knock off rival Huron 8-2 at Riverbank Stadium on Friday night to improve to a perfect 15-0 on the year.
The Pioneers entered the game No. 3 in the laxpower.com state of Michigan computer rankings and are starting to believe they belong in the conversation as one of the best programs.
“This is probably the strongest Pioneer team I’ve seen. We had a great victory over (Detroit) Catholic Central (No. 6 in the rankings), who is a great program," Corey said. "I think they’re hungry, because I don’t know that we’re in the top programs yet.
“It’s tough for a public school to establish itself and I think they’re hungry to say, 'Look, we’re a public school, we’re really a good team. According to Corey, the senior leadership on the team has been the key to the great start by his team.'"
Corey pointed to the play of his senior leaders for the team's success, but those leaders praised the team's underclassmen, many of whom are the backbone of the defense.
“They’re all young guys and they all worked so hard this off season,” said senior Harry Hadden, one of the team captains. “There were a lot of question marks coming in because most of them weren’t even on varsity last year and they’ve all stepped up”
Captain Taylor Zdanowski said the defense was the key to beating Huron.
“Our defense did a great job. There’s nothing to complain about on the defensive side of the ball,” he said. “We all gave those guys a pat on the back after the game.”
After neither side scored in the first quarter, Pioneer found the back of the net three times in the first six minutes of the second quarter and took a 4-1 lead into halftime. (Boxscore)
“I think we were having a hangover,” Corey said. “We’ve just gone through the best stretch (of teams) and I think we just had three really strong games and we clearly just thought we were going to win. And Huron decided they weren’t just going to lie down.”
Playing their third game in as many nights, the Pioneers were understandably a little beat up, but the players didn’t see it that way.
“You can’t have that as an excuse,” said Hadden who led all scorers with two goals and two assists on the night. “Come playoff time, that’s not going to be an excuse. We have to come out and work harder than the next team and really we just have to stay motivated.”
Although the score may not have reflected his team’s effort, Huron coach Greg Monroe thought his team battled all game long.
“(Pioneer is) a great team. I though six-on-six our team played really well. What I saw out there was a pretty good effort, pretty consistent, but some lapses hurt us,” said Monroe.
While 15 straight wins is an impressive accomplishment, the Pioneers aren’t focused on the winning streak as much as winning the last game of the year.
“The goal wasn’t to be 15-0, the goal is something bigger than that. It was just something nice that came along the way,” said Zdanowski.
“It’s almost a dream come true, but we just gotta keep going,” said senior Dylan Swanson. “We gotta keep our eyes on the end of the trail and look towards that championship game, which is what we’re all driving towards.”
The Pioneers next test comes Monday when they square off with Dexter, a fellow unbeaten Washtenaw County team. The Dreadnaughts (15-0) are ranked No. 10 in the state and No. 3 in Division 2.