SOCCER: Saline Wins Battle of the Undefeated in SEC Red
ANN ARBOR - Saline defeated Pioneer, 2-1, in a battle of unbeaten SEC Red soccer teams at Pioneer High School Wednesday.
Saline improved to 6-0-1 to tie Pioneer (6-1-1) atop the SEC Red. Saline has a game in hand.
Saline visits Huron (3-2-1) Friday at 7 p.m.
Saline came from behind on the road to win the contest.
"To have that mentality, when adversity hits, to come back and move forward, I'm really proud of them," coach Ryan Williams said.
Pioneer opened the scoring. Starting keeper Riley Behrman was called for a foul in the box and Pioneer was awarded a penalty kick. Coach Williams switched goalies when Behrman got the yellow card. Jake Day entered the game and Pioneer's Dan McDonough scored on a penalty kick to give Saline a 1-0 lead with a little more than 12 minutes to play in the half.
But senior Evan Grill wouldn't let that stand. He scored just 16 seconds later to tie the game for Saline.
"When they get that PK, it's kind of frustrating. After that, you've just got to keep your head up and you just have to score immediately, that way you can just forget about it and move on with the game," Grill said. "It's always a good day when you score on Pioneer."
Grill said a defender got a bad touch on the ball which allowed him to sprint past and then blast a shot by the keeper - just 16 seconds after Pioneer scored.
Any momentum the Pioneers might have seized was drained.
"Evan had a fantastic goal. He almost put the team on his shoulders," coach Williams said.
The two teams battled back and forth for the remainder of the contest. At times, Pioneer seemed to have the Hornets penned on their end of the field - but the defense kept dangerous chances to a minimum and Day was there to make the stop when Pioneer did generate chances.
The game remained tied until late in the second half, when Christian Rossi headed Drew Barker's corner kick past the Pioneer keeper for a 2-1 lead.
Rossie said he was surprised nobody marked him - but said he was also free on a first-half corner kick.
"We've had plays to get me or Luke or someone open. Drew played a corner. Everyone sprints out. The balls plays to me and I score," Rossi said. "They did have a guy on me, but but he didn't do a great job marking. The first time we ran that play in the first half, they had no one marking me, which really surprised me. People usually have marks on me."
While Barker and Rossi will get a lot of credit for that goal, Williams said every Hornet on the field deserves some credit.
"We work a lot on set plays and I tell the kids, if every player does their role in moving and making the correct run, things will open. It was executed perfectly," Williams said. "Drew gets the assist all the other guys off the ball who moved to create that space (for Rossi to get free and score)."
Jake Day made a couple of saves in the closing minutes to preserve the win.
Rossi smiled when he asked how it felt to beat Saline's rivals from Pioneer.
"It feels great. It means a lot. My freshman year got ended by Pioneer in a shootout in the district finals. Last year we came back and beat them in the district semifinals in penalties. So this year, to beat them, it's a really good feeling. They're one of our biggest rivals," Rossi said.
TEAM W-L-T PTS
Saline 6-0-1 - 19
Pioneer 6-1-1 - 19
Skyline 5-1-2 - 17
Huron 3-2-1 - 10
Dexter 3-4-1 - 10
Monroe 2-5-0 - 6
Lincoln 0-6-1 - 1