By Aaron Skomial
With 7.9 seconds left in the game, Birmingham sealed the win in overtime downing the Eagles 12-11. It was a game filled with emotional swings and scoring was treacherous. Both teams played hard and unfortunately the Eagles came up short.
Tabitha Ferguson was on fire again repelling shots and keeping the game close. It appeared that the calls were not going Hartland’s way all day. Various scoring opportunities had Hartland players getting fouled with no calls being made in their favor. On the flip side, Birmingham seemed to get calls in their favor for minimal contact. Knowing that this is always possibility, and sometimes in Hartland’s favor in the past games, in a state championship game you expect things to be called evenly.
Sour grapes? Possibly.
The game featured leads lost, come backs in the waning seconds of regulation, and an unfortunate result in over time. The one thing that was apparent, the girls from Hartland played the hearts out. Hartland was down one goal with just over a minute left to play in regulation when Birmingham made an unforced error that Hartland’s Sara Barnett capitalized on. She gained possession, passed it to Rachael Sharpe, and she hustled down the field, made various dodges, got fouled along the way -- no call-- but managed to put it in the back of the net to tie the game with 35 seconds left in regulation.
In overtime, Hartland managed to go up by two goals. The stands were filled with parents and friends cheering them on and things looked good. Birmingham pulled their goalie and put more field players on the field to try and keep the game within two and flood the midfield on the draw to gain possession. The gamble paid off. Once the game was tied again, Birmingham put their goalie back in.
The Hartland defense scrambled to keep Birmingham at bay and then a double foul was called. Hartland was called for an illegal stick check and Birmingham for a charge. The offsetting fouls produced a free throw. The two players were matched up and the referee tossed the ball for a jump ball. Birmingham came up with the ball and then took it to goal for a point blank shot. There wasn’t a lot that could have been done. It’s a play that just happens in games.
Leading Hartland in scoring was Amber Crouse with three goals. Haley Crouse and Ryan Skomial had two goals each. Rachael Sharpe, Natalie Sochaki, Taylor Pryde, and Amy Longe had one goal each. Even though Hartland featured seven different scorers, it just wasn’t enough on the day. The defense played tough and worked hard every step of the way.
On the heels of a disappointing loss, we say good bye to twelve seniors. They have represented our community well. They leave a lasting impression on our lacrosse community. The remaining players who will return next year have the distinct honor of trying to continue this success and build the program into a powerhouse that continually competes for a state title.
The end result was a disappointment, but the effort and the excitement that this team gave our community this year will only drive them to greatness.
As a father, and a one-time coach of these girls, they have made us proud. They have given us quite an experience this year. I expect the seniors to go on to great things and I expect our returning players to work just as hard to get back to the title game.