YPSILANTI, MI - The Saline girls soccer team was eliminated from the MHSAA playoffs on Tuesday at Lincoln High School when they faced off with Huron High School for the District semi-final. Huron pulled out a 2-0 victory with a pair of well-finished goals.
“It’s always tough when you play someone for the third time in the season,” Saline girls soccer coach Leigh Rumbold said. “We both recognize each others strengths.”
Saline started the first five minutes with a lot of pressure but were unable to get any real scoring chances during that rush.
The Hornets' defense proved to be rock solid for most of the first half, easily clearing the balls sent into the box by the River Rats.
After a long period where neither team got any real scoring opportunities, Huron slowly but surely began to create chances. With six minutes remaining in the half, Huron sent a ball into the box and Saline goalkeeper Brenna Crawford came running out to play it but missed. Saline’s defense raced back into position and knocked the ball out for a goal kick.
Just two minutes later, the ball came to Huron’s Antiya Sidibe about 15 yards outside the box and she had all the space in the world. Instead of dribbling it closer to the net she turned and shot it. The ball went way up in the air and was floating forever as Crawford started to back pedal. Crawford jumped up and tipped it but it wasn’t enough to stop the ball from going in the top corner to give Huron a 1-0 lead.
The goal came just minutes before halftime and it seemed to really drain the energy out of the Hornets. Multiple players came to the bench with their hands on their hips as they gasped for air, clearly winded from a tough first half.
Rumbold loudly preached to his team to bring confidence and energy into the second half.
When the River Rats got a 1-0 lead, their game plan became a lot more defensive.
“In a playoff game, whoever scores the first goal they can start to really focus on stopping the other team from scoring and they did a really job of it to be fair,” Rumbold said. “I thought before the goal it was really even but then they bunkered in a little bit and looked to counter. So it was difficult to score but credit to them they did what they had to do.”
The Hornets did have their fair chances to put the ball in the net. A few minutes into the second half, Saline midfielder Sophia Wood caught the ball right at the edge of the box with no one around her and fired it with her left foot but Huron’s goalkeeper Dana Dean easily caught it.
With 27 minutes left, the River Rats got the ball on a counter attack and sent a perfect through ball to the feet of Jadyn Smith. Smith gathered the ball, stayed composed and hit a curling shot right over Saline goalkeeper Crawford’s head.
Down the stretch Saline had a couple more opportunities to score but Huron’s defense proved to be too strong.
The game ultimately came down to Huron converting on two of their chances while Saline just couldn’t capitalize on theirs. Neither team was particularly dominant with the ball but Huron’s midfielders did a slightly better job of putting the ball in dangerous positions.
The season ended in disappointing fashion but Rumbold said there is still a lot that can be learned from the experience.
“It’s a young side and it’s a little bit of a work in progress but they’ll take from this experience a lot of things,” Rumbold said.
The Hornets graduated just five seniors. Below is a photo gallery from senior night.