Cassie Anderson scored three goals and Eleanor Smith scored twice as Saline defeated Pioneer, 5-4, in varsity water polo action Thursday at Pioneer.
Katie Wagner was strong in goal for the Hornets.
“I was most proud of our defensive effort tonight,” said Saline coach Tommy Magner. “We played suffocating defense. We didn’t give them much.”
The game was scoreless until 5:14 of the first period. Anderson stole the ball and then turned up the pool for a breakaway. She whipped a skip shot past the Pioneer goalie for a 1-0 lead. Pioneer’s Grace Stephan scored the only goal of the second quarter and the teams were tied at one at halftime.
Pioneer took a 2-1 lead early in the third quarter. Anderson answered for Saline. She swam straight at her defender then disappeared underwater and re-appeared on the other side of her – keeping the ball above the surface of the water. She swam in one-on-one with the goalie and then lofted a soft shot over the goalie’s head to tie the score.
Saline took a 3-2 lead with Smith’s first goal of the game. She scored with a well-placed shot from the left side into to the opposite corner.
Early in the fourth, Saline made it 4-2. Saline quickly moved the ball up the pool. Wager passed to Grace Edwards, who quickly relayed up to Anderson and immediately fired the shot past the goalie. Pioneer answered just 14 seconds later on a goal by Jenni Krzeckowski.
With 3:16 to play and Saline playing with the advantage, Smith scored what proved to the winner. Once again, she scored with a well-placed shot into the corner from the left side. Pioneer scored to make it 5-4 with 1:25 but Wagner and the Hornets held the fort in the final minute.
Anderson said it was a big win.
“We knew it was going to be a challenge. Pioneer is always a huge rival of ours,” Anderson said. “We knew we needed to watch our match-ups, be aggressive and keep moving.”
Anderson and Wagner are the lone returning starters from last year’s team. Teams are keying on Anderson. So the Hornets need players like Smith to score goals.
“We knew they were going to drop on me if I played center. So we need a lot of girls to step up, which they did,” Anderson said.
Coach Magner praised the play of his goal scorers and his goalie, but said the victory was a total team effort.
"It takes all seven girls in the pool working together. And we did that very well today," he said.
The Saline Post 3 Stars:
- Cassie Anderson – The senior shooter was under the microscope all game, but found a way to score three goals. Anderson plays tough defense and has a scorching shot.
- Eleanor Smith – With defenses keying on Anderson, Saline needs someone to step in and score. Smith was the answer Thursday, scoring two goals with well-paced shots.
- Katie Wagner – Made several very good saves and didn’t allow any soft goals. Wagner also helps transition the Saline offense with strong, accurate break-out passes.