After opening with a 1-2 record at a weekend tournament in Canton Saturday, Saline visited perennial powerhouse Livonia Stevenson for its first regulation-time match of the season.
The Hornets survived a torrential first-half downpour to win 2-0 and even their record at 2-2.
Josh Bradin and Cole Larance scored for Saline. Nolan Krause and Quinn Fox split the shutout in goal.
“Livonia Stevenson is traditionally a tough team. They’ve won more state championships than just about anyone. So coming to their field and winning is an accomplishment,” said Ryan Williams, new head coach of the Saline varsity soccer team, “especially in these conditions.”
Williams was talking about a torrential downpour that fell on the high school about the same time a tornado touched down 45 minutes away in Windsor. As the rain poured the two teams battled up and down the field, with Livonia Stevenson getting the best chance.
A Stevenson player lofted a 20-yard shot over a scrum and toward the goal. Krause tracked it, leaped into the air and punched it away.
Saline’s best shot during the storm came from Aaron Mentzer, who blasted a hard shot that went off a Stevenson defender and bounced to the Stevenson goalie.
As the rain died down, Saline started to take over. Senior Cole Larance blasted a shot off the Stevenson keeper. The ball rebounded to junior Josh Bradin who tucked it in for his first varsity goal.
Saline carried the 1-0 lead into half time.
In the second half Stevenson managed a couple scoring chances. The most dangerous came early on a cross-crease pass. But keeper Quinn Fox sniffed it out and made a diving stop.
Saline applied pressure for the game’s final 30 minutes. The Hornets were awarded a free kick from in close after a hand ball. Instead of shooting, Aaron Mentzer passed to Larance, who ripped a shot into the goal for a 2-0 lead.
“I’m really happy with our play today. Our first goal came on a great play by North York and Cole. And on our second goal, Aaron made a great pass to Cole. Not a lot of guys who pass up a shot like that, but it was the right decision and it was an important goal,” Williams said.
Williams was also happy with his goaltending.
“They weren’t tested a lot but they made great saves when they had to,” Williams said.
The Hornets kick off the SEC Red season Tuesday with a game at Monroe.
The Saline Post 3 Stars
1) Cole Larance - Scored one goal and assisted on another. Larance, a three-year varsity starter, was the best player on the field.
2) Jacob Herner - The senior didn't figure into the scoring but nobody was more involved in the play. Herner was key to the Hornets' transition game, stopping Stevenson possessions and getting things started the other way with long runs and good passes.
3) Josh Bradin - His first varsity goal proved to be the game-winner.