The water breaks every 20 minutes were needed.
The temperature got as high as 82 degrees during Saturday’s girls soccer match.
And since Detroit Country Day has an artificial playing surface, you might as well tack on another 10 or 20 degrees because those rubber pellets have no problem scorching in the hot sunlight.
That final break saw Bloomfield Hills Marian senior Ange Briggs grab an ice-cold water bottle, hoist it in the air and then squirt a big stream of water into the mouth of star striker Elle Ervin. It splashed all over.
And then Briggs trickled some down the back of Michigan State signee Isa Agrusso’s left leg. And then she did it again to one of Lucy Kinna’s legs, enough to get a chuckle out of both teammates.
But it was THAT hot out. The cool-downs were welcomed.
And, believe it or not, that wasn’t even Briggs’ best assist throughout the 5-0 victory over the Yellowjackets.
No, that would be the beautiful pass she had with just under 3 minutes left in the first half.
The senior corralled a loose ball from Country Day’s attack and then booted an absolute laser about 40 or 50 yards down the near sideline to Caroline Flynn. Flynn dribbled the ball to the near post and sent a cross pass in front of the net for Agrusso to tap in for a gimme-goal. It was Agrusso’s second of three goals in the match.
But, wow, that pass was something to see. Briggs sailed an absolute rope through the air that hit Flynn in stride. It looked like a Peyton Manning pass to Marvin Harrison on a fly route during Monday Night Football.
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It was that good. And what made it better is Briggs was playing out of position. Normally, she’s a defensive midfielder, but she filled in at center back on defense because the Mustangs were playing shorthanded.
“She had to fill in, but her vision and her patience on the ball is incredible,” Marian assistant Eric Puroll said. “The entire team looks to her. She’s kind of our heart and soul. When she’s on, she’s our energy, and the team just plays so much better when Ange is playing well, and she’s been playing well all season long, and it’s been fun to watch. ”
Of course, Briggs, who also scored a goal of her own off a free kick from about 25 yards out during the first half, was destined to have a great game at Country Day.
For one, she’s one of the senior leaders trying to right Marian’s ship before both the Catholic League tournament comes to an end and the Michigan High School Athletic Association playoffs begin. And, for two, Country Day’s Shaw Stadium always brings back special memories for Briggs (and we’ll talk about why it does later).
Righting the ship? Did it ever get off course in the first place?
Yeah, actually it did earlier in the week.
On Tuesday, its match with Regina saw the Satellites grab a 2-0 lead before halftime. And then the Mustangs, you know, the same squad that has won four-straight Division 2 state titles and has been ranked No. 1 by the Michigan High School Soccer Coaches Association all season long, had somewhat of a meltdown in the second half.
Marian (10-1, 9-1 CHSL) couldn’t even muscle a goal against Regina, and in the final few minutes, a few players attempted the comeback on their own by playing hero ball.
The Mustangs rarely lose. But this loss might be the perfect wake-up call as they approach the win-or-go-home part of their schedule.
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“Honestly, that Regina loss is what we needed,” Briggs said. “We just had too much confidence as a team, saying, ‘Yeah, we’re not going to lose.’ There had been times when we started down and tied games up and got last-minute goals. Regina finally proved to us that we can’t just expect to keep on winning. We have to put in the discipline and put in the work.
“Honestly, since the Regina game, we’ve done a way better job communicating as a team and playing together. If you were there, you would know a lot of people were being selfish, and they were trying to do it themselves instead of playing good balls. Honestly, no one had a really good game that day. No one was covering for their teammates. It just brought us closer together as a team and we bounced back really well from that. ”
The Mustangs have since picked up big wins over Macomb Lutheran North and Country Day.
It appears they’re now zeroed in as they prepare for next week’s Catholic League tournament championship and the start of the D-2 district tournament.
“It’s tough to get punched in the mouth like that,” Puroll said. “Regina played harder than us and with a lot more intensity. What we’ve been preaching in practice and in film is that we’ve got to start with intensity. And we have to start together and play as one unit. The last two games have been great. The practices have been great. And, really, it’s about just starting with energy and continuing to play with energy throughout the entire game. ”
Now, let’s get back to Shaw Stadium, a place that Briggs, a returning first-team all-stater, will always look at fondly.
Last summer, she attended college identification camps in hopes of catching on with a team at the next level.
One of those camps happened to be an 8-hour tryout on Country Day’s field. Coaches from all over Michigan and all across the country came to find players to add to their squads.
One of the teams present was Saint Francis College-Brooklyn, a small Division I school in Brooklyn, New York.
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“Basically, I had a really good camp,” Briggs said. “I loved, loved, loved the coach. She was so nice from the beginning. I got her number, and we started talking. She was really nice, and she was like, ‘Hey, I really love you as a player,’ and I was like, ‘Hey, I really love you as a coach.’ “
SFC coach Justine Lombardi invited Briggs on a visit to the school. An offer to join the team came shortly after.
And, no, Briggs had never heard of SFC until she met Lombardi. But, to be fair, she had never heard of a lot of colleges until she started playing high school soccer.
“All I knew before high school was Michigan and Michigan State,” Briggs admitted. “I didn’t really know anything about college, so, for me, it wasn’t ever about name brands. It was about finding a place I’d be happy and treated well.
“And I definitely think I found it.”
So much so that Briggs officially signed with SFC a day after the Regina loss, a day that also doubled as her birthday. That’s one heck of a way to start Marian’s bounce back.
Brandon Folsom covers high school sports in metro Detroit for Hometown Life. Follow him on Twitter @folsombrandonj.