The Skyline field hockey team capped off a successful season with a thrilling run through the playoffs winning the program’s second Division 2 state championship on Saturday at Chelsea HS.
The Eagles started the week on Tuesday in dominating fashion as they defeated Grosse Pointe South 8-0 in a mercy shortened game. The Eagles came out of the gate quickly as they jumped on the Blue Devils early and often. Jessica Courtright displayed an array of offensive skill scoring five goals to pace the Eagles. Morgan Nalepa, Elena Schroeder, and Lily Fitzpatrick also found the back of the net for the Eagles.
Skyline moved on to the semi-final in Brighton where they faced off against a hungry University of Liggett team, the defending D2 state champions.
The Eagles controlled much of the play and was able to withstand a late push from Liggett ending in a 3-1 win. Strong play through the central part of the field by Molly Watza, Isabel Stille, and Kelsey Walworth allowed Skyline to secure the victory and move on to the next round.
Watza was able to return from a lower leg injury which was key to the Eagles’ ability to close out the game on top. Jessica Courtright continued her hot offensive play with two goals including an impressive blast from a set corner play. Junior Lauren Courtright added a goal for the Eagles to secure a trip to the state finals.
On Saturday morning, Skyline squared off with a familiar SEC foe in the D2 State Final game against Chelsea.
Again, the Eagles controlled play and had the better chances early, however, had trouble getting past a strong Chelsea goalkeeper.
They finally broke through with a goal by Morgan Nalepa just before the end of the first half as she found the top corner of the net off a feed from Jessica Courtright.
Strong defensive play by Maya Stille, Joyce Kafi, and Katie Kowal along with timely saves from Annika Jaglin kept the Bulldogs off the board.
Chelsea was able to break through and knot the game 1-1 off a late corner that was deflected into the back of the net.
It looked like overtime was imminent, however, the Eagles were able to work the ball down for a corner with 12 seconds left in regulation. Chelsea was unable to clear an initial corner attempt leaving Skyline with one final chance with no time on the clock.
Molly Watza inserted the ball to Jessica Courtright who was able to maneuver around a Chelsea defender and get a shot off. A flurry of action ensued with Watza jabbing at the rebound and the ball returning to Courtright. She immediately released a shot which appeared to deflect off the sticks of freshman Lily Carlson, and Morgan Nalepa and into the back of the net.
The bench emptied and the Eagles celebrated the culmination of their hard work with a state championship!
Coach Nikki Barrett was confident the players would respond in the most critical moments of the game. “It was a hard fought, well deserved, exciting finish to an undefeated Division 2 season,” she said. “Expectations were high and the team delivered. I am proud of the team but there is no time to rest. I’m looking forward to dialing it up a notch next year in Division 1.
“I really loved the heart and character of this team as demonstrated by the way they fought back with 2 minutes to go to win in regulation. The future is bright for Skyline field hockey.”
The team was coached by Nikki Barrett, Vicki Yost and Wendy Rothenberg.