What a difference a long weekend makes.
Just four days after Saline concluded the regular season with a 0-0 tie against Skyline, the two teams squared off at Hornet Stadium to open the playoffs. Morgan Jones scored twice and Allison Luurtsema tallied once as Saline blanked Skyline 3-0. Goalie Lauren Wilkie was tested several times but kept the sheet clean.
The Hornet advance to the district semifinal against Pioneer at 7 p.m., Thursday at Ann Arbor Huron. The winner plays Friday night in the district championship game.
Saline coach Dana Rosselot liked the way her team played.
“We weren’t very happy with the way we played Thursday. We started a little flat but we really took over. We put a lot of passes on feet today and pushed the play,” Rosselot said.
One reason for the improvement was the return to health of Hornets like Maeve Skelly and Jones. Jones, who was ailing and played sparingly in the 0-0 tie, was back to her old self.
Jones opened the scoring in the first half. She took a pass from Sarah Brannan.
She scored a similar goal to wrap up scoring in the second half, booting a 25-yard shot that skidded along the turf and passed a Skyline goalie who made several great saves on high shots Thursday.
Jones also crushed off the crossbar.
“We weren’t happy with our game Thursday so we were determined to come out and play better today,” said Jones.
Saline’s second goal came from senior Allison Luurtsema. Sydney Jarvela’s second corner kick in 60 seconds came hurtling through the box. A leaping Skyline defender knocked it down. But it bounced to Luurtsema who headed it directly past the keeper.
For Luurtsema, a junior captain on last year’s team that won the state championship, Tuesday was a great first step.
“Hopefully it’s the first win of many to come,” she said. “We’ve got a tough district. It’s going to be a challenge, but we’re ready.”
On the defensive side of the ball, the Eagles applied great pressure at times. The Eagles possess terrific speed and skill. But the Hornet defense, led by Luurtsema and Abbey Bowen, attacked the Eagles head-on, using sliding tackles to jar balls loose or to prevent Eagles from getting quality opportunities.
Still, Wilkie was required to make several good stops.