After a 100-minute defensive stalemate, the MHSAA Division 1 District Championship came down to a shoot-out between the two best teams in the SEC Red. In the end, Skyline was no match for Saline goalie Annika Udrys, who made three diving stops as Saline won 3-2 to capture the tropy. Bella Petrock, Genesis Pena and Sarah Brannan scored for Saline.
Brannan was mobbed at midfield by her teammates as the Hornets celebrated her game-winning goal.
Saline advanced to the regional tournament. Saline plays Woodhaven at 4 p.m. Tuesday at Novi Meadows.
Coach Rosselot ran out of words to describe the play of her senior goalie. In a lifetime of soccer, only once has she seen a goalie stop three shots in a shootout.
“It’s incredibly rare. The Skyline girls made their shots. She just stopped them,” Rosselot said. “I was confident when we got to the shootout. We practice these a lot. We give Annika a lot of different looks. But when it comes to the game, it’s just about the players stepping up and doing it.”
Udrys admitted the shootout was exciting. She credited her success to the team’s practice.
“We go through hundreds and hundreds before we get to playoffs. It’s exciting to know all the practice pays off,” Udrys said.
During regulation, Skyline had an advantage in possession. Udrys and the Saline defense survived several hair-raising moments.
Rosselot said the team wasn’t playing for a shootout. But the Hornets were playing to their strengths.
“We know Skyline’s biggest strength is their attack and they really showed it today. Our goal in overtime was to play a little more even than we did in regulation. But we have a good defense that most did a great job holding Skyline to mostly outside shots and a phenomenal goalie. We knew if it did get to a shootout we were comfortable with it.”
In fact, the Hornets came out firing in the first 10-minute overtime, putting Skyline’s defense on their heels. But as the overtime periods went on, Skyline pressed, generating a few more chances thwarted by Udrys and the Saline defense.
Finally, it came down to a shootout.
Restrick chose Petrock, Morgan Jones, Annika Dahlmann, Pena and Brannan as her shooters.
Udrys dove to her right to stop the first Skyline shot which appeared labeled for the top corner. Petrock stepped up and scored with almost the exact same shot – just a bit lower.
“I’d been practicing going to the left. I just didn’t let the noise get in my head and I just put it in,” Petrock said.
The next Skyline shooter scored, beating Udrys to her left. Morgan Jones missed the upper left corner with her shot. After two shots each, the shootout was tied.
Udrys came up big on Skyline’s third shot, diving to her right to stop a low shot. Skyline’s goalie preserved the 1-1 tie by diving to her left to stop Dahlmann’s shot.
Skyline took a 2-1 lead to start the fourth round, with a low shot to Udrys’s left. Udrys got a piece of it but couldn’t stop it. Down 2-1, Saline needed an equalizer. Pena delivered a hard-low shot into the left corner.
“I was a little nervous but I practice every day and go to the same corner,” said Pena, who said she was relieved when the ball went in.
The teams were tied as the entered the fifth and final regulation round.
The Skyline player delivered a high, hard shot to Udrys’s right. But again, Udrys came flying across to bat it away.
With the game on her foot, Brannan came up with confidence instilled by her teammates.
“It’s nice to have a super supportive team, knowing even if we won or lost, we all played our best. Personally, I saw it as my last effort to be able to give the team the rest of what I had to push us to the next level,” said Brannan, who said she felt “so good” after the ball went in.
She skidded a hard shot into the lower left corner to win the game.
Brannan doesn’t get the headlines some of her teammates get, but Rosselot said she’s a crucial member of the team.
“She’s very important to our defense and our defense is what keeps us in these games. But it’s not just what she does on the field. She’s a great leader and very positive. She helps keeps our team motivated and positive. But she’s also gritty. She wants to be here and she wants to win,” Rosselot said.
The Hornets mobbed Brannan at midfield. And then they mobbed Udrys as she ran up from the goal line.
Rosselot said it was a great victory for her team.
“Skyline played a great game. We did what we needed to do in a post-season game. We played tough defense. We bent, but we didn’t break. We tried to score goals, but we didn’t push too hard and take unnecessary risks,” Rosselot said.
Now the Hornets look toward the regional.
“We want keep winning and go on a deep run like last year,” Udrys said.
Saline went to the final four last year. The winner of Tuesday’s game will play Canton or Novi at 7 p.m., Thursday in the regional final. The winner of the region advances to the state semifinal at 7 p.m., June 12, at Stoney Creek High School.
The Saline Post 3 Stars
- Annika Udrys was the game’s first star in regulation and overtime and then took it to an entirely different level in the shootout.
- Sarah Brannan scored the game-winning goal in the shootout and provided tough, physical defense throughout 100 minutes of play.
- Genesis Pena scored a huge goal in the shootout to tie the score. Had she not scored there, Skyline would have come up in round five with a chance to win. Pena played good two-way soccer throughout the game.