Saline's varsity field hockey team returned to action for the first time since last year's state championship game. The Hornets got two goals each from senior Bridget Skelly and sophomore Emelia Little as Saline bested Cranbrook, 7-0, at Hornet Stadium Tuesday evening. Senior Erin Reilly, senior Ali Groth and sophomore Tenley Schrzan also scored for Saline.
Abby Kleinschmidt didn't face much pressure as she posted the shutout.
Coach Erica Reilly was pleased with her team's performance. Her team is young, with many players in new positions, so she wanted it the team to play a simple, fast game. She also wanted her team to strike early. They did.
Little, in her first varsity game, opened the scoring, running up the right side, taking a pass from Groth and sneaking a low shot past the Cranbrook keeper. A few moments later, on the Hornets' third penalty corner, Erin Reilly took the insert from Skelly. She faked the shot, went to her backhand, and then smashed the ball into the cage.
Skelly made it 3-0 with 18:16 left in the half. Her first shot from the center was blocked, but she recovered the loose ball and then scored up high over the goalie.
Saline added a fourth goal with just 57 seconds to play in the quarter. Shay Murphy turned the ball around in the defensive zone and got the ball to Reilly, who carried the ball upfield and connected a pass to Skelly in stride. Skelly ran about 10 yards before firing a shot that Little deflected, in mid-air, past the goalie up high into the cage.
It was a great varsity start for Little.
Coach Reilly used the second half to give her girls experience in varsious situations. Saline took a 5-0 lead early in the half. Jo Walder inserted the ball to Groth, who scored on a hard low shot.
Skelly made it 6-0 with a tally on a goal-mouth scramble. There were at least two shots before the ball found its way to Skelly, who slipped the ball through a crowd.
Schrzan scored her first varsity goal on a pretty passing play. Reilly inserted the ball to Skelly, who went back to Reilly at the side of the net. Everyone was expected the Reilly cannon. Instead, she dished across the net to Schrzan who tapped the ball into an empty net.
The Hornets expect a tougher contest Wednesday when they host Marion at 7 p.m.
The Saline Post 3 Stars.
1. Bridget Skelly - Skelly scored twice and had two assists. Reilly and Skelly helped the Hornets dominate the game and keep Saline on offense. Skelly's stickhandling was fantastic and she seemed able to get to scoring areas at will.
2. Erin Reilly - With the Hornets enjoying a big lead, Reilly spent a lot of the second half on the sidelines watching her teammates. But when she was in, she was a force. She sliced through the defense with possession. She thwarted attacks. She set up dangerous plays. She scored a goal. And with Cranbrook focused on trying to stop Reilly, that left other Hornets open.
3. Emelia Little - There were a lots of great players. Ali Groth. Payton Maloney. Maya Prasad. Tenley Schrzan. But Emilia Little scored two goals in her first varsity contest. She's part of a young, speedy forward group that hinted at a lot of promise Tuesday.