Saline shut out Huron, 2-0, to open Southeastern Conference play, in the Hornets’ home opener at Hornet Stadium Tuesday.
Mitch Kalitta and Drew Doran scored first half goals for the Hornets. Quinn Fox, who played the first half, and Sam Herner, who played the second half, split the shutout in goal.
The Hornets, who’ve won four straight games, improved to 4-1-1.
Saline head coach Ryan Williams thought his team did a lot of things well, but said they didn’t play with the pace he wanted to see.
“I thought we possessed the ball really well. I thought we did a good job using the width of the field to expand our attack. But I think we really needed to improve our tempo. We kind of played to their lack of pressure,” Williams said. “They weren’t stepping up to us really hard and we seemed a little too OK with playing slower than we usually do.”
Saline generated more chances in the first half than the second.
Early in the game, the Hornets were awarded a free kick just outside the box. Mitch Kalitta took the shot and bent one around the wall of River Rats, but off the outside of the post. 14 minutes into the game, Saline broke the ice. Logan Dejanovich threw in to Ryan Nichols, who played into the box. Kalitta took the bounce pass and lofted it back the other way, over the defender and past the keeper.
A minute later, Quinn Fox made a diving stop to preserve the one-goal lead.
With 14:32 to play in the half, Saline scored again. The goal came after brilliant passing moved the ball through the center of the field. Then Charlie Rogers passed to Brayden Stavros along the left wing. Stravros sprinted in and crossed to the middle, where a speeding Drew Doran got his head on the pass and put it past the keeper.
“That was a great play all around. Drew scores those kinds of goals in practice a lot, so it was great to see him do it in the game,” Williams said.
The second half was a bit sleepy. Saline had two good chances. On the first, Cam Bacarella came speeding up the left side and sent a pass beyond the goalie but just beyond the reach of his sprinting teammate on the other wing. Later in the half, Dejanovich had a great run up the right wing but the Huron goalie came sliding at his feet just as he released his shot. The goalie deflected the shot away from harm.
Herner’s best save came midway through the half, when he leaped over a crowd to punch a free kick away.
Saline visits Monroe Thursday at 5:30 p.m.
The Saline Post 3 Stars:
- Mitch Kalitta – Kalitta scored a goal and put another one off the post. Coach Williams called him the “Man of the match” and the engine of the team.
- Drew Doron – Didn’t play a ton but made the most of it, scoring Saline’s second goal, running at full speed and heading a Stavros pass into the goal.
- Charlie Rogers – One of two newcomers from Pioneer, Rogers played a great game at midfield and dished out a couple moves that fooled a couple River Rats right out of their shoes.