After missing out on a chance to defend a state championship last year, the veterans on Birmingham Marian's team felt they had to prove something this spring.
The proof was on the pitch Wednesday night, as the Mustangs jumped all over Trenton, 5-2, to earn their third trip to the finals in four years. Marian, who won Division 2 state titles in 2009 and 2010, will play defending champion Plainwell on Saturday afternoon at Williamston. Plainwell beat DeWitt, 2-1, in overtime.
"We're just looking forward to getting back and playing as hard as we can to win another state championship," senior midfielder Alexa Finger said. "It was very frustrating (to lose in the first round last year), but I think it helped us have a little fire under us and get that boost this year."
Not that the Mustangs were looking past Trenton, but they had bigger goals in mind, and it seemed clear from the outset as they kept the ball in the Trojans' end for virtually the entire first half.
"We saw them last week and they played really hard, but I think we had some skill players that were going to give them some trouble, and that's what happened early on," Marian coach Barry Brodsky said.
Marian (21-2-1) capitalized on an own-goal off a Trenton defender 12 minutes into the game (credited to Annika Johnson), and followed that up five minutes later when Finger scored from the goal box following a cornerkick by Catherine Anger. Marian made it 3-0 four minutes before the half, when Hanna Pateryn's free kick from 30 yards out sailed over the Trenton keeper's outstretched arms and settled below the crossbar.
After the break, freshman Kelly Sweeney got a breakaway and sent a dribbler low right, and junior Mackenzie Pohlman made it 5-0 with a header into the open left side of the goal.
Trenton (17-8-2) got its two goals from junior Natalie Righetti in the final 15 minutes of play.
Marian outshot Trenton, 12-4, and had 10 cornerkicks. Before Wednesday, the Mustangs had surrendered only one goal in the post-season.
"I think when it mattered, we were pretty rock-solid defensively," Brodsky said. "Defensively, with Mackenzie Larson in goal and the defenders we have, they've had a great year."