Before the start of Tuesday’s District soccer semifinal games, a longtime coach said that in the SEC Red, “if you don’t come ready to play, you’re going to get beat.” Dexter learned that lesson the hard way.
Two of the better teams in that highly competitive SEC Red Division met on the pitch in a District semifinal game on the beautiful natural-grass pitch at Dexter High School under bright and sunny skies. And it’s not that the Dreadnaughts didn’t come ready to play, but for the first half at least they were a step behind a talented – and very fast – Huron team. No, the grass – or heat – didn’t slow down the River Rats.
Huron led 3-0 at halftime and held on for a 5-2 win to advance to Friday’s championship game, also at Dexter. Huron will face crosstown rival Skyline in the District final with kickoff at 3:30 p.m. The Eagles defeated Saline on penalty kicks after a scoreless regulation in the other semifinal game.
The Dreadnaughts didn’t go down easy. They fought to the very end and put on an impressive second half, playing with urgency and creating many scoring chances. But the River Rats were able to withstand the body blows and not get knocked out. They even added a couple goals, including a big one to push the lead to 4-1 with just a tick over 5 minutes to play in the game.
The Dreadnaughts could not slow down the speedy Antiya Sidibe. Only a sophomore, Sidibe had a hat trick to lead the River Rats on the offensive end of the pitch.
“Over the course of the 16 games we have played, the girls have become more focused and consistent,” said Huron Coach Murali Nair. “In the game against Dexter, they followed the game plan closely. We came out strong and attacked from the very beginning. I am very proud of them because it was really hot and uncomfortable but they hung in there and did what they had to do.”
Despite the loss, Dexter had a very strong 2022 season with plenty of highlights and great moments. The Dreadnaughts went 15-6 overall and finished second in the SEC Red.
“Overall the season was a success,” said Dexter Coach Rhys Moller. “Obviously it finished sooner than we’d hoped it would, but there’s other things to measure it on. Finishing second in the league was a fantastic achievement, but even outside of sports performance there were things to be proud of.”
Moller said the team environment this year was “phenomenal.”
“All the coaches and players could feel that, and that’s why the season ending really hurts the most,” he said. “I’m really going to miss this wonderful team, the parents, and the coaches in the 10 month gap until the next season. Every coach has a team that they always look back to and remember fondly, this will be that team for me, and it’s all down to the players, captains, and seniors. I think we’ve started something really special here, and hopefully we can continue it next season.”
Junior Jessica Clyde also scored for Huron. Senior Elena Leucht played a strong game in net for the River Rats.
Dexter’s talented junior striker Cece Palazzolo scored both goals for the Dreadnaughts.