FIELD HOCKEY: Saline Defeats Huron, Advances to the State Semifinals


The Saline High School field hockey team earned their place in the Michigan High School Field Hockey League's Division 1 final four.

Saline defeated Huron, 5-1, at Hornet Stadium, Monday, to advance to the semifinals. Saline will play Pioneer at 6 p.m., Wednesday at Farmington Hills High School.

Novi and Skyline play in the other playoff game.  The championship game is at 2 p.m., Saturday, at Farmington High School.

Sophomore Clare Arvai scored the game's first two goals to set the course for the Hornets. Caroline Clark, Casey Griffin and Carly Pufpaf also scored for the Hornets. Goalie Megan Clauser turned aside all but one shot.

Coach Sophia O'Connor said the team started a little slower than she wanted.

"But I think we had a great finish," O'Connor said. "We found our rhythm toward the end of the game and we had multiple goal scorers. And we worked on our passing, which is great."

O'Connor said she's confident her team can win and advance to the championship game Saturday.

"We have a lot of depth on our bench and players who finding their stride in this post-season, so I'm optimistic about our chances," O'Connor said.

Arvai opened the scoring for Saline in the first quarter.

"I had an open, straight drive to the circle, made a quick few pulls and then got around the goalie," Arvai said.

After dancing around a River Rat defender, Clare Arvai swept the ball into the net for a 2-0 lead.

Arvai added another goal late in the quarter when Arvai added to the lead. Carly Pufpaf inserted the ball on a penalty corner. Arvai faked the shot and then danced around a defender before sweeping the ball past the Huron goalie.

Megan Clauser made the first save, but the River Rats put the rebound into the goal.

Early in the second quarter, Huron mounted a couple of dangerous attacks and got on the scoreboard. One River Rat managed a shot on goal, but Megan Clauser kicked it out. River Rat Nadia Allen garnered the rebound and had lots of time in front of the net before she deposited it into the cage. Saline led 2-1.

Carolina Clark, #5, got her stick on this shot by Carly Pufpaf and deflected the ball past the goalie for a 3-1 lead.

Huron mounted another rush but the Saline defense kept the River Rats at bay and then resume control of the game. Moments later, the Hornets were rewarded with a goal. Carly Pufpaf took the ball into the circle to her left, reversed back to her forehand and slapped a shot toward the goal. Senior Caroline Clark got her stick on the ball and it bounced past the goalie as Clark and Lauren Miller pressured the goalie. Saline led 3-1.

Saline dominated the second half, allowing only one shot on goal. 

Sophomore Casey Griffin made it 4-1. She carried the ball up the right wing and crashed the net along the end line. The first shot didn't go in - but she got her stick on the sideline and chipped it between the goalie's pad and the goalpost.

Carly Pufpaf completed the scoring in the fourth quarter. She inserted a penalty corner  to Arvai, who fired the ball on goal. The ball came to PufPaf who shot the ball past the goalie to make it 5-1.

O'Connor said the Hornet chemistry is the team's secret weapon.

"A lot of these players have been playing together for a really long time - since middle school. We have a great middle school program that feeds up to our high school program," O'Connor said. "These girls work hard. We have really good team chemistry. On and off the field we have good team bonding and work well together. Team chemistry is hard to make, but once you have it, it's great."

About 500 photos from the game are available to view and/or purchase at our SmugMug site.

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