Ann Arbor Pioneer had already locked up the SEC boys’ lacrosse title when they faced the rival Saline Hornets in the regular season finale at Hornet Stadium on Wednesday evening. Pionner won 11-7.
The Hornets struck first as David Simion took the ball 40 yards and beat the keeper about two minutes into the game. Pioneer controlled the ball for much of the rest of the first quarter, scoring at the 8:18 mark and then taking the lead when they were able to flip a rebounded shot into the next for a 2-1 lead. Hornet goaltender Liam Turner made 8 saves in the quarter to keep the game close. Simion struck again as he was able to beat his defender from the left of the crease with 34 seconds left in the period to tie the score at 2.
As referees do in every game, they randomly select a stick from one player on each team and measure the pocket to make sure it is legal. Unfortunately, a Hornet stick was just a smidge outside the boundaries which resulted in the Hornets starting the second period with a man disadvantage for three minutes and the Pioneers took advantage scoring three times with that advantage and then added a fourth goal 15 seconds after the teams were at equal strength to make it 6-2 Pioneer. The Hornets got their first man advantage on a Pioneer penalty at the 8:15 mark and scored 9 seconds later to make it 6-3. Devin Gallagher scored the second of his three goals on the night to make it 7-3 Pioneer before the Hornets scored again on a man advantage when Mathieu Winkelseth fired a rocket past the Pioneer goaltender. However, Pioneer took advantage of another Hornet penalty with just over three minutes to go to make the score 8-4 as the teams went to halftime.
Pioneer scored twice in the third period with a goal by the Hornets’ Davis Bruneau sandwiched in between. Pioneer started the fourth period with the same equipment penalty that burned the Hornets in the second quarter but Saline could not find the net as Pioneer’s defense clamped down. The Hornets did cut the lead to four when Simion found Bruneau with 8:35 to play. Pioneer added an insurance goal halfway through the period and Simion notched his hat trick when he took a feed from Bruneau and scored with 34 seconds left. The second half was filled with solid defensive stops by the Hornets but multiple times were followed up by turnovers while trying to clear the ball out of their defensive end as Pioneer’s pressure worked. Turner ended the game with a career high 18 saves.
The Hornets end the regular season with a 10-6 record and fifth seed in their region. The Hornets will begin their postseason when they host the Salem Rocks at 7pm on Friday at Hornet Stadium.
(Submitted by Bill Needham)