TEMPERANCE -- The Saline varsity boys soccer team defeated host Bedford, 4-0, to wrap up an undefeated season in the SEC Red. Saline went 8-0-2 to win their first conference championship since 2014.
It was the first SEC championship for the seniors who’ve been part of a successful soccer program. Coach Ryan Williams was happy to see his team rewarded for their hard work.
“These guys have worked very hard and they love the game of soccer,” Williams said. “To go undefeated in our conference speaks volumes about how consistent we’ve been. We’re in a really strong conference and when you start strong, you’ve got a target on your back. For the guys to strive to improve, keep balls out of our net and find ways to win, is incredibly impressive and I’m very proud of them.”
The undefeated season was special – especially to the seniors.
“Obviously it meant a lot to us. It’s the first time (winning the conference) in four years,” said senior Ryan Nichols, on varsity since his freshman year. “This team is the best blend of team chemistry and talent we’ve had. It blends well. We work really well together.”
Goalie Quinn Fox has been on varsity since his sophomore year.
“It’s a good group of guys. We’ve been playing with each other almost all our lives. And we’re not just playing with a senior-only mentality, so to share this with the underclassmen is really big for us,” Fox said.
Eric Kent scored twice and Brayden Stavros and Charlie Rogers scored for the Hornets. Quinn Fox and Sam Herner shared the shutout in goal.
Rogers opened the scoring with a penalty kick goal after Bedford was penalized for a hand ball in the box.
Kent made it 2-0. He took a nice cross pass from Drew Doran and then rang a shot off the cross bar. The ball came down outside the goal, but then spun back behind the helpless keeper.
Saline took the 2-0 lead into halftime.
Brayden Stavros scored to make it 3-0 with a strong kick from the edge of the box.
Kent scored the final goal on a penalty kick – depositing a shot into the top right corner.
“Eric Kent made a fantastic run and got fouled in the box. I wanted him to take it because he deserved it. He buried it, which was awesome,” Williams said.
Williams said Kent, a junior, scores a lot of goals in practice but doesn’t see the minutes needed to produce a ton in games.
“He’ll get a lot more minutes in the future. But today the opportunity was there and he’s a natural goal scorer,” Williams said.
Williams was mostly pleased with the team’s effort at Bedford – but thought the team could have been sharper with the ball.
“I wanted to see them play fast. We saw a lot of different lineups throughout the game. I wanted the guys to maintain what we’ve been working on throughout the season, which is good spacing and good ball movement,” Williams said. “At times we were a little casual with the ball. When the urgency picked up, which we emphasized at half time, we played with a faster pace and created more offense.”
Saline plays Chelsea Thursday in their final test before the playoffs start Monday.