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Losing helps Trojans in long run

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The Trenton girl's soccer team knows what losing feels like. It's a fresh, yet bitter sting experienced seven times this season.

Losing was part of Coach Mike Hatfield's plan when he loaded Trenton's 2014 schedule with non-league powers. When the Trojans collide with adversity in the state tournament, he wants them to be prepared to glide past with ease.

The best way to avoid losing's sour taste? Be acquainted with it.

"I think teams have to know what losing tastes like before you get in the tournament," Hatfield said. "Because when you get in that 1-1, 0-0 plurge and you don't know what it's like to lose and you don't have to dig deep inside to know how bad it tastes, I think it bites you in the butt. So that's what we do. We just schedule and we lose, but we compete.

"So when we get in there and there's 15 minutes left and it's 1-1, my girls know what losing is like and they don't like it. They'll pick up that energy level and that's when you can find the second gear to win the game."

The inspiration for loading Trenton's schedule with ranked teams hails from a popular athletics figure in the country: Michigan State men's basketball coach Tom Izzo. Through playing soccer powerhouses, Hatfield's goal was to ready his team for the postseason.

"Even though we didn't win any of them this year….we have seven losses and they're all to ranked teams," he said. "My theory, like Izzo, it's always been my theory and was my theory at Gabriel Richard, I'll have seven losses on my record. I don't care if we're 9-7-2 or 8-6 or whatever we are, we didn't lose to any teams that I expected us to beat."

Hatfield, who is in his third season at Trenton, has enjoyed modest success leading the Trojans. He's led them to a regional championship in 2012 and two district championships in each of his two previous seasons.

But each season, Marian High School has impeded the Trojans' postseason run.

The Mustangs defeated Trenton in the 2012 state semifinals and eventually won a state championship. Last season, Marian sent Trenton home early in the first round of regionals. Marian has won five soccer state championships since 2003.

"Every year I've been here, I've been knocked out by Marian," Hatfield said. "Marian's like us in hockey."

Whether it's Marian or another formidable opponent that awaits the Trojans as the postseason advances, Hatfield hopes Izzo's method finally pushes his team to glory.

"You don't come here in your first year and go to a state final four," he said. "My expectation is to get back there. Districts is part of our plan, to win them. Part of my plan is to do what we possibly can to win the region."

Last Updated: 5/28/2014 12:56:22 AM EST