Howell — Detroit Catholic Central has Hartland's number.
A year after ending Hartland's season in the Division 1 state semifinals with a dramatic, 12-11, overtime win, Catholic Central did it to Hartland again, this time with a 13-12 win in regulation that was every bit as dramatic.
With 30 seconds left Wednesday, junior midfielder Ryan Birney moved to his left across the Hartland goal and sunk a low shot past Hartland's goalie for the winning tally, only about a minute after Hartland had seized momentum by tying the game at 12.
"I saw that there was no guy (defender) in the middle, so I knew if I could get to my left and go across the middle I'd have an open shot," Birney said. "I tried to shoot low, five-hole, and luckily it went in."
Birney led Catholic Central with six goals.
Catholic Central (19-2) advances will face Birmingham Brother Rice, which beat Bloomfield Hills 10-4, in the state championship on Saturday at Parker Middle School in Howell at 4:30 p.m.
"We have a rather dynamic offense," Catholic Central coach Dave Wilson said. "I don't even know if he's (Birney) in the top four on the team in scoring, but everyone has their day, and some days are better than others. He's a good player."
Hartland (18-3) doubled Catholic Central in faceoff wins, 18-9, but it couldn't turn its possessions into enough goals to get the win.
Hartland coach Garnet Potter was appreciative of his seniors' effort.
"We played hard," Potter said. "We left everything out on the field. Sometimes it just doesn't work out for you. They're (Catholic Central) ranked No. 1, but we're right there with them. The senior class is a great class. They've been together since little league. They're competitors, they're big, strong, fast, and they don't like to lose."
The second half was a back-and-forth affair, with the teams trading four goals until with 3:06 left, senior attack Peter Thompson fired a shot over the Hartland goalie's left shoulder to give Catholic Central the lead. Thompson finished with three goals.
Hartland started hot, scoring the first four goals and finishing the first quarter up 5-1.
With 6:01 left in the first quarter, Mitchell Cotton got the Hartland faithful roaring, scoring low on a two-on-one to make it 4-0.
Catholic Central came storming back in the second quarter, scoring six goals to knot the contest 7-all at halftime.
Junior attack Joseph Kamish briefly gave Catholic Central a 6-5 lead in the second quarter when he brought the ball out from behind the goal and fired it past Hartland's goalie. Kamish had two goals on the night.
Birney had three second-quarter goals for Catholic Central, including one with 2:53 left in the first half where he got his own rebound and then scored while getting knocked to the ground.
Sophomore midfielder Jacob Sposita had two goals for Catholic Central.
Reece Potter, Mitchell Cotton, Jake Gallaher, Brandon Plemmons and Devin Plemmons each had two goals, and Steven Payter and Trevor Lockwood each scored once for Hartland.
East Grand Rapids 16, Grosse Pointe North 3: Eric Solberg and Connor Davis each scored three times, Chris Owens, Jack DelVecchio and Drew Poortenga each had two goals, and Primo Self, Colin Stecco, Ryan Eardley and Jacob Rogers each scored once for East (18-4). Max Payton had two goals and Marco McMann one for North (15-4).
Detroit Catholic Central 13, Hartland 12
Birmingham Brother Rice 10, Bloomfield Hills 4
Final: Saturday, 4:30 p.m., at Howell Parker Middle School
Forest Hills Central 19, Orchard Lake St. Mary's 3
East Grand Rapids 16, Grosse Pointe North 3
Final: Saturday, 2 p.m., at Howell Parker Middle School
Brighton 16, Bloomfield Hills 14
Rockford 25, Hartland 8
Final: Saturday, 2 p.m., at Grand Ledge
B.H. Cranbrook Kingswood 22, Farmington Hills Mercy 4
Okemos 10, East Grand Rapids 9
Final: Saturday, 4:30 p.m., at Grand Ledge