MONROE -- For the second time this year, Saline defeated Monroe by an 8-0 score.
Zeke Gray scored three goals and Ryan Nichols, Anthony Sweier, Mitch Kalitta, Ian Green and Brendan Foster also scored for Saline.
Goalie Quinn Fox wasn’t busy, but he had to make one diving save in the first half to keep his shutout.
Having already beat Monroe by an 8-0 score once this year, the Hornets visited Monroe full expecting to win by a lopsided score. Instead of worrying about the result, Coach Ryan Williams had the team focusing on goals they’d set at practice.
“We talked a lot about our combination play in the final third, specifically. Our finishing hasn’t been quite as good as we’d like it, so we’ve been working on it a lot the last few weeks,” Williams said. “So today, to score eight goals on this field, a grass field that’s difficult to score on, was a positive development.”
It wasn’t only the goals – it was the way the goals were scored.
“All but one goal was assisted. So to see us share the ball, limit touches and play quick soccer was great,” Williams said.
Nichols opened the scoring. Gray followed with a rip from deep in the right wing corner.
Kalitta scored on a pretty move. He took a great lead pass and found himself sandwiched between two defenders. He spun back, as if to pass, and shook his defenders. Then he spun back toward the net to shoot and score.
Moments later Saline scored again. Sweier and a defender raced for a loose ball as the goalie came out to smother it. Somehow the ball got past the keeper and Sweier made no mistake, depositing the ball in the empty net.
Gray scored his second of the game when he took a pass about 15 yards outside the box, suddenly burst into open space and then fired a low shot past the diving keeper.
Gray’s third goal came on a pretty tic-tac-toe passing play before the end of the half.
Ian Greene and Brendan Foster worked a give-and-go for Saline’s seventh goal. Greene, working out of the left-wing corner, dished back to Foster, who drew the defenders to him and then passed back to Greene, who ripped a shot into the far corner of the goal.
Saline’s eighth goal came when Logan Dejanovich won a battle in the right-wing corner and centered out front to a wide-open Brendan Foster, who headed the ball into the net, sealing the mercy-rule victory.
Saline improved to 5-0-1 in the SEC Red ahead of a huge game against Skyline Thursday at Saline.
Skyline, still unbeaten in the SEC and ranked number one in the state, tied Pioneer, giving Saline a leg up in the SEC Red.
But there’s very little margin for error for the Hornets, so Thursday’s game is big.
“It will very likely be a deciding factor in the SEC race,” Williams said. “It’s going to be a very big game and I know our kids are excited to play.”
Saline is ranked 13th in the most recent coaches poll.
The Michigan Power Rodding 3 Stars
- Zeke Gray – Hat tricks are few and far between in soccer, but Saline’s talented sophomore managed the feat.
- Brendan Foster – Great assist on Greene’s goal and scored a nice one himself.
- Anthony Sweier – Lately it seems like the hard-charging Hornet gets on the scoresheet every game.