Earlier this week, Emi Maloney put her arm around her Saline field hockey coach Erica Reilly and said “Coach, we’re going to beat Skyline.”
Saturday, Maloney scored two goals to help the Lady Hornets avenge last year’s quarterfinal defeat. Saline defeated Skyline, 3-0, in what appears to be the Lady Hornets’ first win over the Eagles.
Bridget Skelly also scored for the Hornets. Julia Bentley made several stops in goal for the shutout.
“We’ve got some really hard-working players who practiced really hard and they were ready today,” Saline coach Erica Reilly said. “At every, from our forwards to the mids to the back, they did their job and they did it well.”
Although Saline tilted the turf toward the Skyline goal, most of the first half was scoreless, and Skyline had enough skill to generate shots that Bentley kicked away,
The Hornets were ready for Skyline’s long, deep balls over the middle. They packed the middle and challenged Skyline to come from the outside.
“I think that strategy worked,” Reilly said.
Meanwhile, Skyline did their best to take space away from Hannah Jarvie. Still, Jarvie had two grade A chances turned aside in the first half. Jarvie’s first great chance, a hard shot from the middle, was kicked away by the Skyline keeper. On her second great chance, Jarvie sped in from the right and was stopped again with a kick save.
The Hornets couldn’t be contained, however. With about six minutes left to play in the half, Jarvie fired another shot on goal. This time, Maloney and Skelly were in front of the goal banging away at the rebound. Both had whacks at the ball and it was Maloney who finally put it past the down-and-out keeper.
Saline took the 1-0 lead into halftime.
The Hornets were even better in the second half. It led to several penalty corners.
On one of the early opportunities, Grace Livsey played the ball in to Jarvie, who smacked a shot on goal. Skelly won the battle for the rebound and then spun around and backhanded a shot into the goal.
The goal seemed to take whatever wind remained in Skyline’s sails.
Midway through the second half, Saline scored on a penalty kill. Again, Livsey played the ball in – this time to Erin Reilly. Everyone expected the booming shot, but instead she dished off to her left to Jarvie, who fired a shot on goal. Again, Maloney won the battle for the loose ball. She went to her backhand to score her second goal of the game.
Coach Reilly said Maloney has turned herself into a very good player.
“She’s a workhorse. Her skill level has come up so many notches this year. In the offseason you can find her out on this turf working on her game and it’s paid off,” Reilly said. “I’m super proud of her today.”
Skyline spent much of the remainder of the game attacking Saline. At one point, Saline was two players down due to penalties. But the Hornets kept the Eagles at bay. Skyline also had several opportunities on penalty corners, but the defense, led by Kari Szalay, prevented any serious scoring chances.
Szalay’s work was particularly impressive on the penalty corners. Szalay is the flyer who charges out to disrupt the player who takes the pass on the penalty corner. She did so with her usual gusto, Saturday, preventing serious scoring opportunities on the set pieces.
“She is not afraid one bit, even though she took a ball off the noggin last year. She comes out strong and she wants the ball. She really messed up their offense today,” Reilly said.
Bentley, the goalie, was busier in the first half. Still, she was solid.
“For Julia, she knows a big part of her game is the mental game. She’s got to stay with it when she doesn’t see action for long periods of time. She focuses really well,” Reilly said.
Saline improved to 4-0 on the young season.