Arguably, the best team in D1 through the regular season proved Saturday that they were the best team in the state in 2019 as the Dexter field hockey team defeated Ann Arbor Pioneer 3-0 to win the Division 1 State Championship in Chelsea Saturday.
The Dreadnaughts rolled through the regular season with a 17-2-2 overall record, but one of the losses was in a national tournament in Pennsylvania.
The other loss came to Pioneer two weeks ago and delayed the Dreadnaughts SEC Red title celebration for two more nights when they beat Huron.
Some say a loss at the right time can help a team in the long run and it did just that for the Dreadnaughts as they rolled through the state tournament, outscoring their opponents 9-0.
“They (Pioneer) are a great team and they always have been, we knew we had to bring our all just because of our history with them,” Dexter’s Abby Tamer said. “Them beating us this season just motivated us more and helped us push ourselves during practices and games leading up to this.”
Neither team did much early offensively, but that changed quickly.
Dexter started to control the ball and had a good chance on a centering pass, but it hit a foot and was turned over.
A couple of minutes late the Dreadnaughts struck on a corner, when Abby Tamer took the pass and fed it to Claire Vaughn who fired it home for a 1-0 Dexter lead with 21:53 left in the first.
Pioneer bounced back with some pressure of their own, but goaltender Maggie Jones made a diving poke check before Pioneer could get a shot on net.
Dexter had another good chance on a corner, but the shot went just wide of the net.
Pioneer then earned a corner themselves, but Jones was there to kick the shot wide of the goal to keep it 1-0.
With just over seven minutes remaining in the half, Tamer intercepted a pass and went nearly the length of the field and drove a shot past the Pioneer goaltender to make it 2-0 Dreads.
“Our forwards worked super hard to get ahead of me and pull the defense out and open up lanes for me to keep going forward,” Tamer said. “Then I gained the circle and just sent the ball on frame looking for Gracie (Burns) and it took a good bounce and went right in.”
The lead grew to 3-0 with two minutes left in the half when Tamer made an acrobatic shot falling to her left that found the top corner of the net.
Maya Calloway intercepted a Pioneer pass and fed the ball to Kylee Niswonger who then fed a pass to Tamer. The Niswonger/Tamer tandem teamed up numerous times during the season and the pair did again.
“I went to my left because that’s where she was channeling me,” Tamer said. “As soon as I gained the circle on this one I shot it and I think we just had the right bounces today!”
Pioneer came out quickly in the second half with some pressure moving the ball toward the front of the goal, but Jones made a fine sliding save to keep the ball away from the net and keep the score 3-0.
Dexter appeared to score a goal off of a corner, but the referee blew it off to keep the score.
The Dexter offense continued to pressure Pioneer, never letting them get anything going on the offensive end as the clock continued to tick away.
As the seconds wound down the team and crowd counted down the final few seconds and the Dreadnaughts rushed the field and Jones in goals as they celebrated the teams first state title since 2014 when they won the D2 title.
The Dreadnaughts outshot Pioneer 6-3 in the game with Jones stopping all three shots. Tamer finished with two goals and an assist, while Shannon Schoch added an assist.
Dexter finished the season with a 20-2-2 overall record.