SOCCER: Saline, Rossi Break Loose In Second Half to Defeat Huron In District Semifinal

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Saline senior Christian Rossi celebrates the second of his three goals against Huron Tuesday.

Christian Rossi added to his Saline goal-scoring records as the Hornets beat Huron, 4-0, in the district semifinal at Hornet Stadium Tuesday.

Saline advances to the district final against Pioneer at 7 p.m., Thursday, at Saline's Hornet Stadium.

Rossie broke the scoreless tie 14 minutes into the second half and finished the game with three goals, giving him 36 goals on the season and 92 for his career. Both are program records at Saline High School. Isaac York scored Saline's fourth goal. Riley Behrman posted the shutout in goal.

Throughout the year, Rossi has said that his job on the Hornets is to score goals. Nobody in the history of the boys' soccer program has done the job better. On Tuesday, Rossi and the Hornets weren't happy with their play in the first half.

"We were a little frustrated at half. It seemed like they wanted to win more than us. We all agreed that was the case. So we knew that going into the second half we had to want it more than them and that we had to play our game, because our game is better than theirs," Rossi said. "We did just that and we ended the game with a win."

Rossi broke the shutout on a pass from his usual set-up man, Drew Barker.

"Drew cut it back, took it down line, beat his defender, played a ball in and I just headed it far post," Rossi said.

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Rossi found a nice spot between four defenders to accomplish the feat.

Head coach Ryan Williams said it was a huge goal in a game that had been tight. 

"Any moment changes a game. It was a very even game until we scored that goal. It was such a momentum boost for our team," Williams said. "To score the goal how he did - it was so pretty.  It was a great build. The cross by Drew Barker and the finish by Christian were exceptional. It sparked us and we kept going from there.

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Not too long later, Rossi did it again. This time it was Eli Gray with the setup. Gray spun off his mark, sprinted in from the sideline and fired a cross toward the goal. Rossi came speeding in and dove head-first toward the goal, heading the ball into the net.

"Eli made some crafty moves, got around his defender, played a ball and I dove in for the header and put it right down the middle," Rossi said, adding that his head was practically at the goal line when it made contact with the ball.

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On the next goal, with about five minutes to play, Rossi took a pass and ran toward the center and then took a left-foot shot that beat the goalie high. The goal created a murmur on the Saline sideline.

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Saline sealed the victory with Isaac York streaking in from the right sideline and firing a shot into the far top corner.

Coach Ryan Williams said keeper Riley Behrman played a nearly perfect game in less-than-optimal weather conditions. Though Saline carried the play for the first 54 minutes, there were several pockets of the scoreless game in which Huron applied pressure and generated quality opportunities.

"To not give up a goal against a really good attacking team in this environment was awesome," Williams said.

Saline now turns its attention to Pioneer. Earlier this year, Saline bested Pioneer, 6-4, at Pioneer. Pioneer then returned the favor with a 1-0 victory at Saline.

Coach Williams expects a close game.

"They're a really good team. John is a great coach. They could compete with any team in the state, as could we. So I expect it to be a heck of a soccer game," Williams said.

The winner takes the district trophy and advances to the regional.

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