By: Seth Kinker,

The old adage “the third time’s the charm” proved true as the Dexter Dreadnaught girls soccer team (16-2-4) defeated the Pinckney Pirates (17-3-2) at Milan high school on May 31 in a division two district final by a final score of 5-1. 

The Dreadnaughts were usually on the backfoot in the first two meetings, with the Pirates high press creating turnovers and offensive opportunities. On Friday, the Dreadnaughts were the aggressor right out of the gate and played their game to secure their fourth consecutive district title. 

“They play a really high line,” said first year Dreadnaught head coach Jamie Lewis. “They compress the field, begging us to play direct. We knew coming into the game…we had prepared for it for a couple weeks . We haven’t done it in a game, it was probably a little bit of a surprise for them. Two players outside, one in the middle, we stayed high and played direct. It worked really really well.” 


“I think the defining factor here is that they did a good job of pulling our team out of shape,” said Pirate head coach Tom Greeley. “When they pulled us out of shape, we were playing their game and not ours. They’re much better at their game than we are. I don’t think the score sheet represented how hard or well we played. They’re just very good at finding seams and getting it over the top. They’ve got athletic girls that can run on and push their way through opportunities. We couldn’t.” 

Both sides had service into the box within the first five minutes. First it was Dreadnaught senior Annika Brodersen getting a chance in the box. A bit heavy of a touch sent it out and the following possession the Pirates played a ball ahead to senior forward Alayna Moricz with Dreadnaught junior goalkeeper Kaila Simpson coming out to stop the chance. 

50-50 balls were something the Dreadnaughts noticed they lost more than they won in their season finale loss against the Pirates. Six minutes and eleven seconds into the game the Dreadnaughts struck on a set piece. A corner taken by sophomore Carley Curry was hit by junior center back Kylie Cabana for the early 1-0 lead. 

After that, the Dreadnaughts continued to do what the Pirates had done successfully in the first two meetings. Pressure high, release quickly and often, while looking to switch and attack from many angles. 

In the 19’ the Dreadnaughts struck again after pressuring high. 

A turnover led to Curry getting a pass to Brodersen at the top of the box. She turned, took the ball to her right while beating three defenders, and got a shot off before any could get their feet out. The ball hit the Pirate goalkeeper and bounced into the goal for the 2-0 lead. 

The Pirates responded to that goal with a few quality looks. First, a deep shot from Annabelle Sharp that hit the post before being cleared out by the Dreadnaughts. Then, the Pirates had a free kick taken by senior defender Cassie Bonifas that Simpson had to make a save on. After that, a cross into the box got to Moricz’ feet, but the Dreadnaught defense held strong. 

With ten minutes left in the half the Dreadnaughts lost sophomore center back Faith Renaud in a scrum in front of the net. Many chances were stopped by the Dreadnaught defense as the Pirates couldn’t get a clean look in the box. Renaud, however, wouldn’t return as she was carried off the field. 

Sophomore Kelsey Roller stepped in for the Dreadnaught defense and helped stymy the Pirate attacks.

The Pirate defense came up with an empty frame stop with under five minutes in the half that would’ve given the Dreadnaughts the 3-0 lead, but they went into the break with the 2-0 lead. 

At halftime, Lewis said they talked about defensive adjustments and players possibly having to play out of position with Renaud not returning. He said addressing Sharp’s speed was also something they talked about, making sure she didn’t get behind the defense. 

The Dreadnaught defense; Cabana, Renaud, Stewart, sophomore Anna Scaling, and Roller, played lights out while the midfield was led by senior McKenna Graham. Graham was a key point of service from the midfield while also turning away and preventing Pirate service from the midfield, a problem in the first two meetings. 

Out of the break the Pirates offense saw brief success, less than ten minutes in sophomore Solana Kelly had just Simpson to beat before Cabana caught up and cleared the ball before a shot could be taken. 

A couple minutes later, Bonifas struck on a free kick that seemed to catch the Dreadnaught defense off guard to make the score 2-1 in favor of the Dreadnaughts.

Cabana almost got a goal from near midfield shortly after the Pirate goal, shooting deep as the Pirate goalkeeper saw the ball bounce over her head before making the goal line stop. 

Then, the Dreadnaughts did score with 26:15 left. A quick counter attack started by a ball played to the corner for Brodersen to run onto led to her cutting into the box and putting a shot top shelf for the 3-1 before two defenders could stop her. 

During the next ten minute the Dreadnaught defense rebuffed multiple Pirate looks. A ball played ahead to Kelly was met by Dreadnaught sophomore Mia Stewart, a Pirate free kick, service into the box that was met by Simpson. 

“She started out the season as a midfielder and didm’t play goalie until the third week of the season and has sacrificed scoring goals and being in the field to be in goal and she’s been amazing,” said Lewis on Simpson. “A big sacrifice for her.”

The Dreadnaught defense dropped in behind the ball as they looked to secure their lead. 

With 15:02 Graham scored a goal just past the center circle on the Pirate side of the field as the high shot caught the Pirate keeper off guard. 

The game was sealed with 5:30 left when Tamer started a quick counter attack off of a turnover. She played the ball ahead to the corner for Brodersen who beat her mark and played a perfect ball across for junior Skylar VanStrien in the box to get a touch on for the 5-1 lead. 

Simpson stopped one last late counter in the box to secure the 5-1 lead, the district title, and a regional match next week. 

“I think it was just energy, effort, and desire,” said Lewis on this game’ second half compared to the other matchups. “I don’t think we had that in the previous two games with them and I think the girls had a lot of heart today. They matched their intensity.”

“Congratulations to Pinckney,” Lewis added. “They had a great season. They’re a young team, well coached. I think they’re going to be a power in the SEC for a while.” 

“I told them l I love them,” said Greeley when asked what he told the team after the most successful season in program history. “They’re a great bunch of girls. I told them I’m extremely proud of them. That they were wonderful ambassadors for the game. They represented their school, friends, family, everyone, to the utmost degree. And to not forget this feeling of disappointment because we want to be back here again next year, and we want another shot at it.” 

The Dreadnaughts will have a chance for revenge against Marshall in their first round of regional play next Tuesday at Spring Arbor at 7 p.m. The Dreadnaughts fell to Marshall last year in regional play. 

The Dexter Dreadnaught girls soccer team after their district win over Pinckney on May 31.