SOCCER: Saline Girls Capture First District Championship Since 2018


Nada Derneika's goal late in the second overtime lifted Saline to a 2-1 victory over Skyline and gave Saline its first district championship since 2018.

The Hornets advance in the MHSAA Division 1 girls soccer tournament. They'll play the winner of Saturday's Woodhaven-Edsel Ford game at 7 p.m., June 6, at Woodhaven. Canton and Dearborn face off on the other side of the bracket.

Derneika's goal seemed to come out of nowhere in a grueling battle under the hot sun between the two SEC Red rivals who tied both of their regular season games. With a little more than four minutes to play, Lydia Zajchowski threw the ball in from the left sideline in the offensive zone. Sienna Snyder took control of the ball and drew several Eagle defenders to her. The Eagles managed to get the ball from Snyder but played it right to Derneika, the freshman 25 yards out in the center of the field.

"I took a touch. I just had to shoot it. I knew the time. We needed a goal," Derneika said. "I had a good feeling about it. Right when the ball was getting to me I was like, I'm going to shoot this and I'm going to take it."

Derneika's shot went over the leaping goalie, grazed the crossbar and came straight down, behind the goal line.

Teammates immediately mobbed her.

"I was so happy, so excited. I was like, we've got to defend now and let nothing behind us," Derneika said.

It was an incredibly tough game that didn't look like it was going to go Saline's way after a tough second half. Saline goalie Norah Dawid and the Hornet defense held the Hornets in the game with a series of defensive stands late in the second half. Overtime was more evenly played, but Saline seemed to find some juice in the second overtime period.

Saline varsity soccer coach Leigh Rumbold said he was proud of the team.

"It was a really tough game. Skyline is a heck of a team, number one, it's a final, so it's always going to be close, and then you factor in the heat as well. This team has been so gritty. They grind it out," Rumbold said. "We didn't necessarily play our best, but hey, it's a final. The result was all that mattered."


And it mattered most to the seniors, perhaps.

Senior captains Zoe Rumohr and Kailee Cahill called it felt "so good" and "amazing" to be district champs.

"This has been in the works for so long. Since our freshman year we've gotten so close every year and then senior year we finally got the big win," Cahill said.

Rumohr said she almost started crying tears of joy when she saw Derneika's goal 

And it was a big win for coach Rumbold. The UK native has been coaching soccer in Saline for almost 10 years. He knows there are high expectations for Saline soccer teams, and he was glad to win with some of these girls who he coached in youth soccer.

"Saline is like a second home. I love the school, I love the community and I love the players. It's just an awesome feeling," Rumbold said. "And it's a little bit of a monkey off my back to be honest. I know how successful Saline has been and we've always been pretty close. To get over the line feels fantastic. And we're not done."

Saline was the better first half team and poured on the pressure in the final 10 minutes of the half. Skyline's keeper made a great diving save on Carson Caldwell to keep the game scoreless. But Saline was awarded a corner with just a few seconds left on the clock.


Freshman Sadie Walsh got her head on the kick from Audrey Driskell to break the shutout.

"I was front post and I just headed it into the top corner," Walsh said.

With the way the Hornets had been playing up until that point, it seemed like one goal might be all that was needed. But the Skyline team that came out in the second half was tougher. The Eagles spent nearly the entire half in the Saline zone.

"We know, having played Skyline multiple times, that they are going to come back at us and they did. We spoke about sitting not too far back, but it's difficult when you're exhausted and they're pushing balls forward and we eventually conceded a corner from them," Rumbold said.

Skyline scored on a corner midway through the second half.

The Hornets seemed to spend the final 20 minutes in survival mode. 

Goalie Norah Dawid thwarted one chance by charging out of the goal to kick the ball away from an oncoming Eagle. Cahill got back and cleared the ball safely away so no Eagles could tuck the ball into the vacated cage.

The Eagles were awarded corner after corner.

Late in the half the refs awarded a free kick from just a few yards from the goal after a mad scramble.

Somehow, Dawid and the defense survived the pressure.

"It was pretty stressful especially since they had a lot of their girls right on the line, but I have a lot of faith in my defenders," Dawid said.

Rumohr said coach Rumbold had some advice before over time.

"He said a clean sheet will win you the game, you just need to put in your all and that the team who wants it the most will get it," Rumohr said. "And we wanted it the most and we got it."

Cahill said she was proud of the way the team fought through the second half struggles and pulled out the victory.

"I am so proud of this team. We have battled through every single game we've played - tonight especially, it was so hot out here. But we all wanted this so badly and we were all willing to put the work in," Cahill said.

Saline now has a district championship and an SEC Red championship.




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