Saline’s varsity soccer team made quick work of Monroe as the Hornets opened SEC Red play at Saline High School Thursday night.
Saline won 8-0 to improve to 4-1-0 overall. The game was called midway through the second half due to the mercy rule.
Zeke Gray scored three goals – giving him six goals in five games thus far. Ryan Nichols scored two goals. Anthony Sweier, Nick Scott and Brayden Stavros also scored for Saline.
Head coach Ryan Williams knew his team was the heavy favorite, but he wanted his team playing at the top of its game.
“We’ve got a very important week coming up, so we made it a priority for the team to play in the moment and to push hard every play,” Williams said.
For the most part, that’s what Williams saw. But after jumping to a 3-0 lead, Williams felt his team’s energy dropped.
“We were a little selfish with the ball. At halftime we talked about passing and using our teammates and the team responded. Our effort was much better,” Williams said.
Saline opened the game with several near misses. Zeke Gray scored his first on a penalty kick. The Monroe goalie dove and got most of it – but Gray put enough power into it that it found its way into the goal. About a minute later, Nick Scott scored from just outside the box. His shot appeared to be going a little wide, but the goalie muffed it and it deflected into the goal. Gray scored his second goal about eight minutes into the game. From just outside the box he kicked a hard bounce shot into the far corner. Saline led 3-0.
The game stayed that way until midway through the half. Nichols came speeding down the right wing, pulled a spin-o-rama at full speed to fly past a defender and then unleashed a rocket into the net. Saline led 4-0 and took that lead into halftime.
Saline showed some of that great passing early in the second half. Thwarted by corners into the box all first half, the Hornets tried a different set piece. The ball was played in bounds. Gray crossed a long pass in from the sideline to Scott, who touched it over to Nichols at the side of the goal. Nichols, with so much net to hit, made no mistake. Saline led 5-0.
At the 7:40 mark, Monroe coughed up the ball to Sweier in the middle. Sweier scored to make it 6-0. A few moments later, Gray blasted another long shot off the goalie and in. This shot came from outside the box.
Stavros ended the game with a great shot from the left side.
The Michigan Power Rodding Three Stars
- Zeke Gray – The sophomore keeps on scoring. He now has a team-leading six goals.
- Ryan Nichols – Two goals and great play throughout the night. One of Nichols’ goals was a great individual effort and the other exemplary of great team play.
- Brendan Foster – There were a lot of great Hornets to choose from Thursday, but coach Williams had plenty of great things to say about Foster. Williams credited his movement away from the ball for opening up passing lanes and creating space for his teammates.