After Saturday’s 12-7 win over Langley in the state final at Westfield, the defender waited patiently as a trainer taped a bag of ice to her sore right knee before joining the group for the trophy presentation.
Madison has relied on a dynamic offense to power past opponents for most of the season, but the defense set the pace on Saturday. The Warhawks tied their fewest goals in any victory this season but still managed to shake off the rival Saxons for the fourth time this spring.
After going down early in the game with a hyperextended knee, Brennan returned to play through the pain and fortify the Madison defense.
“Coach recognizes the defense when we work hard, and as long as we win, that’s fine with me,” Brennan said. “I don’t really need to be a spotlight player as long as I can do my role to make the team better.”
Madison (20-1) averaged nearly 21 goals in its first nine postseason wins, but the Warhawks never threatened that pace in the state final.
Junior Katie Kerrigan (two goals, three assists) credited nerves for the early struggles, and the midfielder who slathers the same menacing eye black pattern on her cheeks before each game provided the spark the team needed to break away this time.
After Langley scored the game’s first goal, Kerrigan assisted on the equalizer less than two minutes later. The Ohio State recruit forced a turnover off the ensuing draw and proceeded to put the Warhawks ahead for good 5 minutes 2 seconds into the game.
The defense made sure the lead stayed safe, holding Langley scoreless for nearly 15 minutes during one first-half stretch. Madison pulled out to a six-goal first-half lead, and when the Saxons crept back, sophomore goalie Sigourney Heerink made two of her five saves to ensure the advantage never shrunk to less than three.
“We didn’t change our defensive approach to things,” said Coach Amanda Counts, the All-Met Coach of the Year. “It was no secret that Langley was going to come out looking to shoot [more than last time]. [The defensive players] understood they needed to step things up if we were going to stop them.”
The Warhawks played more methodically after halftime, shelving their frenetic attack in favor of longer possessions. They put the game away when sophomore Ellie Bentley and senior Erin Callahan scored 15 seconds apart, stretching the score to 11-6 with 7:01 remaining.
Brennan, who has been on the varsity squad since moving to the area from California for her sophomore year, did her part, jumpstarting the transition game despite her limitations. She also took a vicious hit in the second half that drew a red card and further hobbled her.
Kerrigan wasn’t surprised the unit saved one of its top performances of the season for the state final.
“It’s definitely tough going against our defense,” Kerrigan said. “I love it. That’s what makes our team better. Now we can say they’re the toughest defense in the state.”
Senior Olivia Sisson scored four goals to pace Langley (15-6), which fell in the state final for the second straight season.