Skyline scored two goals in the second half to defeat Saline 2-0 in the Division 1 quarterfinal matchup held Tuesday night at Skyline High School.
The Eagles controlled play most of the night, but Hornets held them off the scoreboard until midway through the second half, when Skyline finally capitalized on a penalty corner.
Sydney Schuster took a pass and fired a shot that bounced off the post and barely got behind keeper Julia Bentley and defender Deepthi Prasad.
“It was a perfect shot,” coach Erica Reilly said.
The Hornets’ best chance for a comeback turned into a backbreaking goal against. On the Hornets’ second penalty corner of the half, Abby Morton’s pass bounced past Shannon Reilly. Grace Livsey tried to play it back to Reilly for the shot but the pass was intercepted. Skyline quickly moved the ball up field for an attack. Bentley made a diving save and Prasad blocked another shot, but on a third try, Grace Gagliardi put the ball in the goal.
It was the kind of goal the Hornets hoped to avoid.
“We practiced for Skyline. They do a couple things very well. They employ cherry pickers and they hit long balls very well,” Reilly said. ““That’s the last thing you want to have on any corner. You’ve got some momentum and you have a chance to tie the game and they move the ball down the field and they score. But Skyline is a very good team and that’s what every good teams do.”
The Hornets made several opportunities through the game, but the Skyline defense protected their goal well. Saline’s best chance in the second half came on a great rush by Devin Reilly, who raced up the left wing and centered a pass through the crease.
In the second half, besides the corners, Sophia Tzavaras had the best chance. She picked up a loose ball and attempted to sweep a shot on goal from seven yards out, but her shot was blocked.
In goal, Julia Bentley was called on to make several stops, including several of the difficult variety.
It was a disappointing end to the season for Saline, which returned to Division 1 after a two year absence. But coach Reilly was proud of the girls’ effort throughout the season.
“Nobody likes to lose the last game of the season, but I’m proud of the girls. I’m proud of the way they worked to develop their skills. Moving forward, the returning girls are set up to be a very good team. They’ve seen Division 1 now. They know what’s expected,” Reilly said.
As for the seniors who are graduating, Reilly said they’ll leave behind a legacy. Most of the seniors played on last year’s Division 2 state championship team, which helped the Hornets return to Division 1 play.
“It’s a dynamite group. They were the girls in the trenches as freshmen when we were the bottom of the barrel in Division 1. They helped build the program and they won a state championship trophy,” Reilly said. “They started a new legacy for Saline. I feel fortunate to have been able to have coached them – some of them since middle school. I know they will do well in whatever they do next.”
Seniors include Maddie Potter, Deepthi Prasad, Sierra Hazard, Shannon Reilly, Alva Helber, Sophia Tzavaras, Isabel Cross, Keerthana Akella, Abby Morton and Kaleigh Riggs.
SISU Mouth Guard 3 Stars:
- Shannon Reilly – Saline’s MVP the last two seasons is going on to play at Kent State.
- Abby Morton – Reilly’s Partner in Crime for the last two years, she’ll play field hockey at Smith College.
- The rest of the senior class – Sierra Hazard and Sophia Tzavaras have scored huge goals for the Hornets over the years. Deepthi Prasad has been a fixture on the defense. Keerthana Akella was a dependable keeper and Kaleigh Riggs used her reach and speed to make things tough on opponents and generate offense.