with gallery: Second half goal sends Pioneer field hockey to fifth consecutive state final against Huron
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The scoreboard didn’t reflect the Pioneer High School field hockey team’s dominance Thursday night, but the Pioneers were victorious, defeating Marian 1-0 and advancing to Saturday’s state final against Huron at 2 p.m. at Saline High School.
“Both teams played really well, but for our team it’s really just a matter of playing our game and playing the way we want to play,” said Pioneer senior Molly Thompson.
The Pioneers spent most of the game in the Marian zone peppering the Mustangs with numerous shots and more than 10 corner attempts. But it wasn’t until junior Charlotte Rivard scored on a rebound with 14 minutes left in the game that the Pioneers broke through.
Courtney Hellyer had seven saves for the Mustangs, but the Pioneers had plenty of other attempts that sailed wide or were blocked before getting to the net.
“They are a really good defensive team and overall they’re a really strong team,” Thompson said. “ For us our goal is to not get frustrated and to keep going back at it.
“And when we do go back in and keep shooting and trying to penetrate into the circle, we want to stay as calm as possible and not let not getting a goal frustrate us.”
The Pioneers didn’t allow a shot on goal and rarely allowed the Mustangs to get in the offensive zone for any prolonged period of time.
Thompson and Stephanie Terrell stood out with their stellar play at midfield by keeping the Mustangs from advancing up the field on defense and pushing the pace offensively for the Pioneers.
“When you’re a competitor and you play against other good, strong, solid teams, you just got to keep at it and expect that any goal that you make is because you’re working hard and fighting hard,” head coach Jane Nixon said.
With the victory, Pioneer will now face cross-town rival Huron, who the Pioneers have lost to in the last two state finals. Huron defeated Novi to advance.
Thompson said the sting of the last two years is still present for some of the Pioneers, but said that they can’t let the past dictate how they play on Saturday.
“Huron’s a really good team, we have a lot of respect for them. We know them really well, we’re friends with them, but we’re gonna play how we know how to play and focusing on us.
“Definitely going into a game where it hasn’t come out the way we wanted it to the last couple years, it does give you motivation. But we also just want to live in the moment and appreciate that we’ve made it this far."