The undefeated Dexter field hockey team was flying high heading into Thursday’s showdown with rival Chelsea. And for good reason. The Dreadnaughts had knocked off defending D-1 state champion Pioneer on Tuesday.
But the Bulldogs took a small bite out of Dexter’s incredible start with a 1-0 win at Al Ritt Stadium. The Dreads fall to 4-1 on the season while Chelsea improved to 5-0.
“We won’t make excuses for (Thursday’s) results, the better team won,” said Dexter coach Craig Flocken. “As an organization, though, from the coaching staff to the players we will move onward to the next game and prepare ourselves. We will make the needed corrections so that the next time we meet Chelsea on the field we will be the better team.”
The first half belonged to Chelsea as they out-hustled and out-played Dexter around the field. Fortunately for the Dreadnaughts, solid goalkeeping by Anna Love kept them in the game through the scoreless first half.
In the second half, Dexter was able to get a little more pressure on the Chelsea defense but still was not able to mount any consistent offensive attacks. With 16 minutes remaining in the game, Chelsea’s Maggie Cole carried the ball into the Dreadnaught circle and released a reverse chip shot which shot back past Dexter goalie Joy Hook.
The 1-0 score held for the remainder of the game and Chelsea improved to 4-3-1 in the all-time series against Dexter including wins in the last three.
“This game was a concern of the coaching staff,” Flocken said. “After the big win over Pioneer on Tuesday, Chelsea proved to be too much for us. They did a solid job going to the ball throughout the game and they had a determination about them that was obvious from the opening whistle. We never matched it.”
It was a tough loss for Dexter but one the Dreads will get over from and move on – because that’s what great teams do. And the defending D-2 state champs are a great team.
“Losing always hurts especially to a rival school,” Flocken said. “But we have to realize we are still OK in the scheme of things. There are eight more divisional games to play. I think it is going to be very tough for any team in Division 1 to run the table undefeated. We just have to learn from this, take care of our remaining eight games by playing as we know how, and then just sit back and watch how everything else shakes out.”
On Tuesday, Dexter defeated Pioneer 2-1 in a battle of two 2014 state champions (Dexter for D2… Ann Arbor Pioneer for D1).
At the opening whistle, it was Pioneers who came out controlling the game. They attacked Dexter’s goal in waves but the Dreadnaught defense and goalkeeper Anna Love were stretched but not broken.
Thirteen minutes into the game, Dexter got their first opportunity on a corner play. A shot by Emma Tamer went to the left of the goal but was tipped into the net by Diana Milne to give Dexter a 1-0 lead on their first shot of the day.
Pioneer countered hard and 10 minutes later evened the score on a corner play of their own. Though Ann Arbor outshot Dexter 10-1 in the first half, the Dreadnaughts were able to go into halftime tied 1-1.
In the second half, it was more of the same with Pioneer controlling play and sending offensive attacks into the Dexter circle.
The big break Dexter needed happened 9 minutes into the half when Dexter thwarted another corner attempt and began passing the ball up field. The final pass got to Milne at about the 50-yard line, and with a nifty move, she got behind the defender with nothing but green turf between her and the goalie. Milne turned on her speed with Pioneer in hot pursuit and met the goalie in the circle and slipped the ball to the right of the her foot and it rolled straight into the corner of the goal to give Dexter a 2-1 lead.
For the next 21 minutes, Pioneer gave it everything they had to knot the game back up. Dexter’s team, defense and goalie held strong, though, preserving a hard fought win.
This was Dexter’s first win against Pioneer and broke the Pioneers’ streak of 36 home games without a loss.
“Pioneer is Pioneer and they are the most storied high school field hockey program in the state,” Flocken said. “They churn out talent on the field year after year and are so disciplined and extremely well coached. No comes close to accomplishing what they have done.
“That being said, going into the game, our team believed we had a chance but all those facts about Pioneer puts doubt in your mind. We were able to focus, though. We were able to overcome the aurora of Pioneer for 60 minutes. For 60 minutes we played hard and didn’t back down.”