HARTLAND — Brighton boys lacrosse coach Renn Moon made it clear Wednesday’s game at Hartland was an important one for his team.
“It’s the biggest win of the year for us,” he said. “We’ve been preparing for this game all year since we lost to them int he playoffs last year. It’s been marked on the calendar. Everything we’ve done in all the games and all the practices have been geared to right here.”
The focus, and a stiff defense, paid off for the Bulldogs, who won 7-5 and took over first place in the KLAA Lakes Conference.
“It feels great,” said Drew Billig, who had three goals for Brighton (10-1 overall, 4-0 Lakes). “We’ve been shooting for them all season. They’ve been on top all season, so it feels good to come out and get a win.”
On a night when the rain sometimes came down in sheets, Brighton took control with four consecutive goals beginning late in the first period and continuing into the second to take a 5-2 lead.
Hartland’s Jake Gallaher ended the Brighton run to make it 5-3 going into halftime, and Sam Highland scored a little over a minute into the third quarter, but Billig scored the next two goals for Brighton.
The Bulldogs defense did the rest, keeping the Eagles out on the perimeter while goalie Josh Luketic made several big saves down the stretch.
“They came out in a zone, and we don’t generally play in a zone,” Hartland coach John Clifford said. “We worked on it all week in practice. I think the biggest thing they brought out that we didn’t is they wanted it more.”
Hartland (10-2, 4-1) got goals from Garnet Potter to begin and end the game, the last with 4.1 seconds remaining.
“We knew (Luketic) was a good goalie,” Potter said. “He had some good saves, but we just couldn’t hit the net. We were missing by five feet, 10 yards. It was bad.”
“He stood on his head,” Clifford said of Luketic. “We couldn’t find the open spots. His weakness was low, but everyone wanted to shoot high. The other thing was we took no angles on the shots, and so the shots went wide. Simple mistakes. Not the team we wanted to come out and present, but it is what it is.”
The game was also a fundraiser for cancer awareness. All players wore pink uniforms with the breast cancer awareness ribbon prominently displayed, and there was a successful bake sale near the concession stand.
The Bulldogs need to win out to take the conference title, a strong possibility given that their final opponents — Grand Blanc, Walled Lake Central and Waterford — have a combined total of one win inside the division this season.
Hartland, meanwhile, has another tough match coming up at Midland on Friday.
“They’re a top team, so we have to get ready to play,” Potter said. “The sun will come up tomorrow. We’re good.”