Restore Your Home, Restore Your Spirit!
HARTLAND — Perhaps what was needed was someone with a clean slate, who didn’t come with the emotional baggage of past soccer disappointments against Brighton.
Enter Justina L’Esperance, a freshman playing in her first state tournament game for Hartland.
She knew full well the magnitude of playing Brighton at any time, but didn’t experience the season-ending losses to the Bulldogs the last two seasons or the Eagles’ history of postseason struggles against them.
All she knows is that, in her short career, she is undefeated in the state tournament against Brighton after her goal with 10:49 left in the game gave Hartland a 2-1 upset of the second-ranked Bulldogs Tuesday in a first-round Division 1 district game.
The Eagles scored twice in the final 14:54 to beat Brighton in a postseason game for the first time and to end a six-game losing streak in the rivalry.
“They’re our biggest rivalry, so it’s really good to bring it home, because we haven’t beaten them in a long time,” L’Esperance said.
Hartland’s last victory over Brighton was 3-1 on May 1, 2014. The Eagles were 0-7-2 against the Bulldogs since then, getting shut out in the last five meetings.
Brighton's MacCulley Barry (14) battles for the ball with Hartland's Mary Storm during a district soccer game on Tuesday, May 29, 2018. (Photo: Bill Khan/Livingston Daily)
“They’ve always had our number when it came to the postseason, so we knew going into this game they were a great team, a highly ranked team that had beaten us last time,” longtime Hartland coach Andrew Kartsounes said.
Hartland (12-6-2) entered the state tournament unranked after being rated 16th and 18th in the first two polls of the season. The Eagles disappeared from the rankings after a 3-6-1 start. They turned things around down the stretch, winning their last seven games.