Last year’s Saline varsity soccer team went undefeated on the way to the state title.
This year’s team has one-upped last year’s team in at least one respect – they won the SEC Red with a better record.
The Hornets, who clinched the SEC Red last Thursday, tied Skyline 0-0 on the road Thursday. Saline finished the season with a 9-0-1 record in the SEC. Last year’s team went 8-0-2.
Coach Dana Rosselot said she was proud of her team, particularly Thursday night, when the team was without senior Maggie Schumborg, Maeve Skelly and Emma Brownsberger, and other key players, like Morgan Jones, played sparingly.
“I’m really proud of this team. We put together some of our best games in the SEC, which remains a tough conference,” Rosselot said. “I’m especially proud of the girls today. We were down in numbers. So I was happy about the way different girls stepped up into different positions. It shows how versatile we are. We have more depth than people think.”
Skyline presented a challenge for the Hornets.
Saline opened the game with territorial control. The Hornets buzzed about the Eagles’ territory but couldn’t generate a scoring chance in the opening three minutes. The game began to even out, with Skyline pushing into Saline territory.
Saline’s first shot came about six minutes in, when Devin Reilly took a pass on the run and sprinted up the right wing before firing a shot that was stopped by the Skyline keeper.
About two minutes later Saline goalie Lauren Wilkie was tested when she stopped a shot that was deflected on a throw-in. About 10 minutes in, a Skyline player got loose on the left wing. From a tough angle, she fired a 20-yard shot which Wilkie pushed aside.
When the first half was over it was the Eagles who had the game’s best scoring chances.
Saline came out strong in the second. Sydney Jarvela put a corner kick into the crease. The ball bounced to Hannah Bird who nearly got the goalie with a backwards shot from 10 feet out. About a minute later, Saline sent the ball up the left-wing. The ball was played to the middle and bounced to the right side of the net where Alyssa Stavros fired one shot that was blocked. The ball took a high bounce back towards Stavros who jumped to get there first, but her shot went up and over the bar.
About 12 minutes into the half the Hornets had their best chance. Bird sprinted up the field and weaved through traffic. She was in tight when she finally got a good look at the goal. She blasted a shot which bounced off the keeper’s legs and back out into traffic.
Only three minutes later, Jarvela found a little room and ripped a 30-yeard shot from the middle.
Despite Saline’s dominance, the game remained scoreless.
Wilkie kept it that way. At 21:20 a Skyline girl got free and Wilkie made a diving stop to maintain the tie.
Three minutes later, Bella Petrock booted a hard, high and rising shot that the Skyline goalie leaped to stop.
The up-and-down action continued. Saline was thwarted on a free kick. Two minutes later, Wilkie stopped a 30-yard shot.
With 9:50 to play Stavros shook her defender with a quick cut. She unleased a rocket aimed for the top right corner, but the keeper made a leaping catch.
With 7:40 to play, Wilkie made a great stop. Running across the crease and then jumping to swat away a 30-yard shot that was labeled for the top left corner.
Now the Hornets and Eagles meet again Tuesday night, as districts open at 6 p.m, at Saline High School.
The Saline Post 3 Stars:
- Lauren Wilkie – This wasn’t one of those shutouts where the other team doesn’t possess the ball on Saline’s side of the field. Wilkie made several saves, including three spectacular ones. Unfortunately for the Hornets, Halley Banaszak-Holl was equal to the task at the other end.
- Allison Luurtsema and Abbey Bowen – With Maggie Schumborg out, Luurtsema and Bowen had more work to do on defense. They kept a speedy Skyline team at bay for most of the night.
- Hannah Bird – Created chances out of nothing. Uses great speed, fancy footwork and tremendous work ethic to best her opponents and develop quality scoring chances.