For six years straight, Marshall has been No. 1 in the Interstate 8 Conference.
But for the first time ever, Marshall is also No. 1 in the state as well.
The Redhawks climbed to the top of the Division 2 rankings in the Michigan High School Soccer Coaches Association poll this week, which according to Marshall girls soccer coach Hans Morgan, is a first for the school.
"The girls were absolutely excited that it happened,” Morgan said. “We have tried to embrace it. It’s a great accomplishment and we want the girls to recognize it."
“But I was pleased they were able to turn the page quickly and get two really good results this week, and now they are focused on what is ahead of them and not worried about the rankings.”
Those results included Marshall’s 3-0 win over Jackson Lumen Christi in the Interstate 8 Conference championship on Friday, held at Marshall High School. The victory comes after the Redhawks defeated Parma Western in the league tourney semifinals.
Marshall scored two goals in the first three minutes of the contest. Addison Waito buried a shot on a beautiful set-up on assists by Madelyn St. John and Brooke Waito to make it 1-0. Natalie Frever then quickly added another goal on an assist by St. John for a 2-0 lead. The Redhawks were up 3-0 before halftime on a goal credited to Sydney Feasel. Keeper Kylie Brown earned the shutout in goal.
It is the sixth straight conference tournament championship for Marshall.
“League is something we always focus on," Morgan said. "We want to continue to be the standard in our conference. Not that we are worried about keeping some streak alive, but you want to win your conference first, that’s our first big goal of every season.
“It also gives us momentum heading into the postseason.”
And Marshall will head into districts this week with that No. 1 ranking.
“Being No. 1 has never happened to us before. At least as long as I have been around and I suspect it never happened to Marshall soccer before that, but I don’t know,” Morgan said. “It’s a badge of honor and the girls are excited about it.”
Marshall had been in the top 10 most of the season, but staying undefeated at 18-0, the Redhawks slowly climbed to the top spot in the final weeks of the regular season poll.
“I don’t mind if you put this in the paper, but I don’t think we are the best team in the state. But I totally understand how it happened,” Morgan said. “Teams in front of us kept dropping games here and there and we kept on winning. So it was hard for people not to move us up.
“There is a little trepidation that comes with hit, it puts a big target on our back. But we talked about how it doesn’t mean a lot. We have beaten teams ranked ahead of us in the past, and we have lost to teams that were unranked. They don’t decide games based on who is ranked higher. Just based on who is playing well and we wanted to be playing well heading into the postseason and right now we are.”
Marshall is the host for its Division 2 district and gets a bye in the first round. The Redhawks will face the winner of Pennfield vs. Coldwater, scheduled for Thursday at Pennfield High School. Also in that district is No. 6-ranked Gull Lake, which will play at Harper Creek on Wednesday. On the same side of the bracket, Battle Creek Central will host Hastings.
In Division 1, Lakeview is in a district hosted by Portage Northern. The Spartans will play a first-round game at Jackson on Wednesday. Lakeview would then face the winner of Holt vs. No. 6-ranked Portage Central.
The Calhoun Christian/St. Philip co-op soccer team will compete in a Division 4 district hosted by Kalamazoo Christian. Calhoun Christian will travel to Potterville on Wednesday in a first round contest.
Contact Bill Broderick at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @billbroderick
This article originally appeared on Battle Creek Enquirer: Marshall girls soccer embracing being ranked No. 1 in the state