SOCCER: Saline Opens Playoffs With 1-0 Win Over Dexter, Rossi Ties School Record For Goals
DEXTER - Saline junior Christian Rossi scored the game's only goal to propel the Hornets forward in the MHSAA Division 1 Soccer Tournament and put himself in the Saline soccer record book.
Rossi's goal came on Drew Barker's corner kick with 3:22 remaining in the first half. Riley Behrman made several stops while posting the shutout in goal for Saline.
Saline advanced to the district semifinal game against host Skyline at 5 p.m., Oct. 19. The winner will face the Pioneer-Huron winner in the district championship at 6 p.m., Oct. 21.
Playoff soccer means only one team goes forward - and the other watches their season conclude. Saline coach Ryan Williams credited both teams for a great effort.
"I have to credit Dexter. They gave us everything they had. Their senior class left it all on the field. I told our guys it was going to take that effort from our end as well, because they've scored a lot of goals this year and beat a lot of good teams," Williams said. "To come on their field and get this victory, I'm so proud."
Saline came out flying for the first five minutes of the game, but as the first half went on, Dexter managed to put the Hornets on their heels. Dexter was awarded the first four corner kicks of the match.
"Fortunately, we defended (the corners) well and I have to say our goalkeeper, Riley, played exceptionally today. On those corners, we won some 50-50s and cleared it, but Riley also made some big-time plays," Williams said.
In the final fives minute of the half, Saline reversed the pressure. Barker, from the corner, managed to fire a shot on goal on Saline's first corner of the contest.
Saline kept the pressure on and forced another corner. This time, Barker played in for Rossi, who beat his mark to the ball, headed the ball past a defender and the goalie into the empty corner of the cage.
The goal gave Saline the lead and seemed to take some of the wind out of the Dreadnaughts' sails.
The goal vaulted Rossi into a tie with Cam Cameron for most goals ever scored in a season in Saline boys' soccer history. Cameron scored 26 goals in 2003. Rossi has been aiming at that goal all year.
"I'm really proud of myself. I'm happy to make it. It was one of my season goals, personally. I'm happy about that," Rossi said.
Barker's assist gave him 10 on the season. Many of those assists have been on Rossi's goals.
"I feed Christian. He scores. It's pretty simple," Barker said with a laugh.
The Hornets now turn their attention to Skyline. Earlier in the year at Hornet Stadium, Saline beat Skyline 2-1. On Sept. 28, Skyline returned the favor at Skyline, winning 1-0 on a night when the Hornets could have almost clinched the SEC Red title that instead went to Pioneer.
"I'm really excited. I think we can win. I'm 100 percent confident in the boys that we can do it. We just need to be ready," Rossi said.
Behrman said this team will be ready.
"I'm excited. Especially with the way we lost to Skyline. We're hungrier than ever, and we're not going to let that happen twice," Behrman said.