The French Diplomat Talleyrand is credited with the proverb “revenge is a dish best served cold”. And at the semi finals game at Hollway Field in Ann Arbor Thursday night, it was indeed cold. With twenty mile per hour gust of wind coming from the west it dropped the temperature down to just above freezing at gametime as the Chelsea Field Hockey Team looked to exact their vengeance against Ann Arbor Skyline, the team that knocked them out of the playoffs in last years semi finals.
Chelsea was coming into the game off a hard fought 1-0 victory over Novi while Skyline was coming in off a 3-2 overtime victory over Ann Arbor Huron. Ann Arbor Pioneer had defeated Dexter 2-0 in the earlier semi final game and were anxiously waiting to see who the finals opponent would be.
Skyline won the coin toss and started with the ball first and came out strong. But the defense of Chelsea, which allowed them to get this far, stepped up right away. Both teams were playing strong defense and was trying their hardest to force the other into that big goal allowing mistake. And it would be Skyline that blinked first at about the 12 minute mark as Senior Captain Maggie Cole got the ball low to Junior Madalyn Allen who knocked it in to the Skyline goal to the goalies left side to give the Bulldogs the 1-0 lead and the all too important first goal.
Skyline took the ball after the goal but it was Chelsea who controlled the flow mainly in the Eagle’s zone. When the Eagle’s did get pressure they were met with that stonewall defense of Chelsea. The game was pretty equal at the half in shots and penalty corners, with Chelsea having 3 and Skyline having 1. The main difference was the lone goal.
In the second half things started to get chippy. The Eagles knew they had to get back in the game and were playing hard as nails to score. But with Cole off the field serving time for a yellow card they still couldn’t break the speedy, intense defense of Chelsea. It was Cole’s only yellow card of the season and only the disciplined team’s second of the season. But the Eagles big break finally came after they had several penalty corner advantages in a row when Senior Captain Jillian Beemon moved the ball into play off the corner and Junior Captain Abbey Hutton blasted a big unstoppable shot into the Chelsea net to tie up the score at the 21:53 mark.
Chelsea took the ball after the goal and it was Cole doing what she has done her entire career, juking past two Eagles and splitting past several more defenders to bury the ball in the Eagles net to put Chelsea back up in the lead, just 14 seconds after Skyline tied it up!
The hard play went back and forth as Skyline put it all on the table to try to force overtime in back to back games but Chelsea Freshman goaltender Payton Doan stood confident and tall in net and challenged every shot, while being helped out and backed up by Seniors Kelly Bertoni and Gabbie Wink. Skyline never let up and played hard until the final seconds ticked off the clock but the formidable defense of Chelsea held on to put the team in the Division 1 State Championship for the first time ever.
Skyline left the field down but not out as they know they played a great game and have only 3 seniors graduating from the team. Next year’s Nicky Barrett coached team has a lot of positive things to build on for the future, as they return many sophomores and juniors.
The Chelsea girls celebrated their historic moment with laughter, tears, and plenty of smiles. But they know that there is another game and they are focused on completing their mission, their goal of a championship dream season which will try to be accomplished against last years state champions Pioneer at Ann Arbor Skyline High School on Saturday, Halloween, at 2:30 P.M. Chelsea split the season series with Pioneer this year. The Division 2 championship game between Detroit Country Day and Saline will take place beforehand at noon.