Saline defeated Pioneer 1-0 and improve to 6-0-1 in the SEC Red Thursday evening.
The win keeps Saline in the driver’s seat atop the SEC Red.
The Hornets were particularly motivated to win this game. The last time these two teams played, they played to a scoreless tie.
“This was a huge one. We some them celebrate the tie on our home field,” said goalie Annika Udrys. “Winning this was one was big in the SEC. We still have Skyline and Huron coming up.”
Hannah Bird was credited with Saline’s only goal in the first half. Udrys wasn’t busy in goal, but she made a spectacular save early in the second half to preserve the lead.
“We’re glad to get the win, even though we didn’t play our best. But it’s important to be able to find ways to win, even when you aren’t having your best game,” Saline coach Ryan Williams said. “Defensively, I was really happy with our play. We didn’t give up much.”
The only goal of the game was scored in the first half when Sydney Jarvela charged up the left side and crossed the ball into the box. Hannah Bird pressured and caused Pioneer to score on its own net.
Early in the second half, Pioneer had its best chance of the game. Saline’s defense made a rare error and was caught out of position, allowing an unobstructed shot from center inside the box. Keeper Annika Udrys got her hands up to deflect the shot over the goal.
“They played a ball on to the box and we weren’t marking tight enough. The Pioneer girl had about five yards of space and had a really good shot, but Annika made a great reaction save,” Williams said.
“I just shot my hands up and they happened to be in the right spot,” Udrys said, modestly.
Udrys was asked if it’s difficult to stay ready for such dangerous shots when, for the most part, the defense keeps the ball away from the goal.
“It is a little hard, but being ready when you need to be ready is my job, so that’s just how it works,” Udrys said.
Saline's defense cleared out the resulting corner kick and prevented Pioneer from further dangerous opportunities.
On the offensive side of the ball, Saline controlled play but struggled to put the ball on the foot of anyone in scoring position. The Hornets best chances came on penalty kicks. On one chance, Genesis Pena's kick from the left side sailed through the crease and Alyssa Stavros, at the side of the goal, got her foot on the ball, but it glanced wide.
On another chance, Tate Robison kicked from the right side. Emma Wright charged into the box and got her head on the ball. Hannah Bird kicked it straight into the keeper, who was able to hold on and prevent any rebounds with a swarm of Hornets buzzing around her.
Udrys and the Hornets haven’t given up a goal since April 15.
Williams said the Hornets have cleaned up the defensive mistakes that led to goals against early in the season.
Udrys said she thought the team returned from spring break focused and motivated to take on the SEC.
Saline hosts Skyline Tuesday at 7 p.m.