The Lady Hornets soccer team won their third straight MHSAA Division 1 championship Friday, defeating host Southgate Anderson 7-0.
Kayla Kouba and Abbey Sovitch each scored twice for Saline. Caitlin Ellis, Karsen Bonifor and Rachel Genereaux also scored for Saline, which breezed through the district, scoring 16 goals and allowing just one, also beating Monroe and Woodhaven.
“It’s pretty amazing to win our third straight district, especially because the program has never done this before,” said Sovitch, a varsity starter for two years and a junior varsity call up as a sophomore. “It’s been really great to be part of this. It’s great that we’re able to leave our stamp on the program.”
Saline has advanced to the MHSAA Division 1 Region 2 tournament at Farmington, where the Hornets will open against Plymouth or Salem at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
Saline made the drive out to Southgate Anderson unsure who their opponent would be. The semifinal between Anderson and Bedford was suspended Thursday night due to lateness. It resumed in overtime Friday evening and went to a shoot out before Anderson disposed of Bedford, 6-4.
“It’s weird coming into a game not knowing who you are going to play until 20 minutes before hand. It’s weird for both teams, but they took care of business. They were supposed to be the better team and they played like the better team,” Restrick said. “We’re excited to move on.”
Restrick said she was a little worried about Anderson coming out strong and with confidence after their big win, but the Hornets owned every inch of the field from the opening second, firing shot after shot after shot at the Southgate Anderson keeper.
“We wanted to make sure we matched the intensity early,” Restrick said.
A dozen minutes into the game, sophomore Taylor Mulder passed across to Kouba in the middle. Kouba kicked a 15-yard shot past the goalie for a 1-0 lead.
Saline took a 2-0 lead with 12:04 to play in the half. The Titans’ goalie was unable to handle Mulder’s shot and the rebound went to Sovitch, who was taken down. The officials awarded Sovitch a penalty kick. She made no mistake.
“(Coach Restrick) has been prepping us in practice and I’ve been taking penalty kicks every day. I’ve been taking four every day and I’ve made every one, so I was pretty confident – especially going to my left side,” Sovitch said.
The defense, led by seniors Melissa Needham and Meghan Ulrich and sophomores Amanda Zylstra, Sarah Livesey, thwarted the Titans’ attack and prevented goalie Sofia Sweier from seeing much action.
Heavy rain started falling just before halftime and continued into the second half. A little more than 5 minutes into the half, Caitlin Ellis put a 20-yard shot from the top of the box into the goal for a 3-0 lead. Less than 10 minutes later, Needham passed to Kouba who scored from the middle for a 4-0 lead. Not even a minute later, Sovitch scored to make it 5-0 and the rout was on.
Saline’s first five goals came from seniors. Restrick said she was proud of the seniors, many of whom have been part the Hornets’ three straight district championships.
“It’s something very different when you’re a senior and you’re facing your career ending in high school. They definitely stepped up. I expected them to,” Restrick said. “And I think they had a really good time out there. That’s what’s most important. They’ve made a lot of memories they’ll remember from their senior year.”
Junior Karsen Bonifer one-touched a great cross-field pass to make it 6-0 with 16:20 to play. Freshman Rachel Genereaux scored on a scramble after a corner kick to make it 7-0 with 7:14 to play.