with gallery: Pioneer holds off Huron to advance to state semifinals in girls lacrosse
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With 12 minutes left to play in its girls lacrosse Division 1 regional final, Pioneer High School appeared to be cruising to victory over rival Huron.
The Pioneers led 11-5 and controlled play throughout the contest. The River Rats, however, would not go away and proceeded to score consecutive five goals over the next four minutes to cut the lead to one.
After the last goal, Pioneer called a timeout to regroup.
“We talked about staying mentally strong and, at that point, we had to stay strong,” said Pioneer coach Zachary Maghes.
The Pioneers maintained possession for the majority of the seven remaining minutes to win 11-10 and advance to play Hartland in a semifinal of the MHSAA tournament at 7 p.m. Wednesday at South Lyon High School.
“They tend to shoot further out, so I was able to keep tracking the ball,” said Kruse. “With our practice I was able to track it better, so it was really a team effort.”
After their goalie helped keep the game close, Pioneer scored seven of the last eight goals of the first half to build a comfortable 10-3 halftime lead.
Sophie Buchmueller led the Pioneers with three goals. Samantha Zwolan, Allie Pardon and Mercedes Reyes scored two apiece. (Boxscore)
“We were just really focused. We focused on defense and possession and I felt like we were ready,” said Maghes.
Five minutes into the game, neither team held much of an advantage as the teams were tied at two, but the momentum was starting to turn in the River Rats' favor. That’s when Kruse’s play in net helped change the tide for the Pioneers.
“Her play was huge. The first time we played them, she didn’t make too many saves. She’s really come around the last two playoff games and (her play) was huge. That is so much momentum making those defensive saves,” Maghes said.
After allowing a quick goal early to open the second half, the River Rats' offense came alive.
“We just had to get back into playing our game,” said Huron coach Dan Madigan. “We let Pioneer dictate that first half and that got us behind. In the second half, we regrouped and decided to start playing our game again. We just fell one short, that’s all.”
Madigan said he couldn’t have been happier with the effort from his team, which got three goals from Taylor Standiford and a pair from Kelsey Aaronson, Anna Masini and Mariel Ward.
“I can’t ask for anything more from them, really,” said Madigan. “You can’t more proud of the girls.”
For Kruse and her teammates, beating one of their primary rivals made the victory even sweeter.
“Our first game against (Huron), we really struggled. So to take this away from them just feels amazing,” she said.
With Hartland on the horizon, Kruse said Pioneer will celebrate Saturday night and start getting ready for the Eagles on Sunday.
“We’re going to watch their film and see where they’re shooting, so I can work on those shots specifically," she said. "We’re all just going to have to keep that team mindset and know that we’re not done. This is just one more obstacle to climb.”