First-half deficit too much for Huron girls lacrosse team in loss to Hartland
Chris Asadian | AnnArbor.com
A furious second-half comeback came up short and the Huron High School girls lacrosse team lost 17-14 to Hartland in a meeting of two of the top 10 teams in the state.
Trailing 13-5 at the break, the River Rats outscored Hartland 9-4 in the second half Monday at Riverbank Stadium, but couldn’t find a way to catch the Eagles.
“I was really proud of our team in the second half," said Huron senior captain Taylor Standiford. "We really didn’t get discouraged and we came out really strong. ... I know we can definitely beat this team,”
Huron coach Dan Madigan saw a different approach from his team in the second half that was the catalyst for the comeback.
”I think we started concentrating on just being aggressive and taking it one play at a time,” Madigan said. “Sometimes the girls get caught up in the big picture rather than ‘we can only score one at a time.’”
While the scoreboard said differently, the play on the field was even through the first half. But the play of Hartland goalie Tabitha Ferguson helped keep the Eagles far ahead. Ferguson made seven saves on the night, but her four in the first half stifled the attack of the No. 7-ranked River Rats (10-2-0).
“It’s frustrating, but we meet really good defenses in every game and it’s just something that we have to overcome,” said Huron’s Anna Masini, who scored a game-high four goals.
With the offense struggling to put goals on the board, the defense broke down and No. 4 Hartland (13-2-1) was able to build a 4-0 lead just 10 minutes into the game, causing Madigan to take a timeout.
“They had a lot of good ball movement and off-ball movement. They attacked the middle of our zone and we just couldn’t see it," Madigan said. "We weren’t seeing the cutters very well.”
Once the second half began, the defense improved and the River Rats were able to put pressure on the Eagles, scoring four of the first goals of the half.
Huron would again score four straight goals over a five-minute span to make it 17-14 with 3:12 left. Hartland won the ensuing faceoff, however, and was able to run out the final minutes to secure the win.
With the state playoffs on the horizon, Madigan looks at this game as a learning experience and something his team can use as the season winds down.
“That’s what we’re going to get out of that second half, is that intensity and that we can build on any play,” he said.
That mentality is not lost on Madigan’s players, who also know there is a lot to learn from this loss.
“It teaches us a lot and it’s not just during the games, it’s during practice. Off the field we have to start getting ready for the state tournament,” said Standiford. “I think we’re going to surprise a lot of people.”
Of course, the River Rats hope their lessons learned will pay off if the teams meet in the upcoming state tournament.
“We know we’re the team that has the skills, and we have the energy, we just have to come with that for the entire game and play a full 50 minutes,” said Kelsey Gradwohl. “Hartland was a very respectable team, but we plan to meet them again.”
Matt Durr covers sports for AnnArbor.com. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.