Tuesday’s field hockey game between Saline and Novi began with a celebration of the senior class and ended with disappointment as the Hornets fell 1-0 on a late controversial goal.
Novi’s Annie Fisher scored on a penalty corner with 4:23 to play. Saline’s captains protested the goal, telling the officials that the ball was too high.
Saline coach Erica Reilly said that the shot must be no more than 18 inches high as it crosses the goal line.
“It looked high. It started high and it dipped, so it’s hard to say. I liked the way our captains appealed to the officials, but the officials didn’t agree,” Reilly said. “The call was disappointing, but as I told the girls, if we put the ball in the net, it wouldn’t have mattered.”
It was a game the Lady Hornets (8-5) expected to win. Novi (5-5-2) came into the game with just three wins and just a handful of goals.
Saline dominated the first half, territorially. The Reilly sisters kept and Abby Morton kept Novi pinned in its own zone for most of the game. Hannah Jarvie was denied on a breakway by the Novi keeper. All the Hornet pressure resulted in several penalty corners, but the Novi defense and keeper kept the Hornets off the scoreboard.
“Their keeper kept them in the game. She was blocking all the shots and taking heavy heat. She was strong on her left side. So we tried to send the ball to the other side and that didn’t work,” Reilly said.
The game was scoreless at halftime, but Saline seemed to have all the momentum.
Play evened in the second half. Still, Saline had their chances. Bridget Skelly blasted a shot directly off the post. A centering pass through the crease bounced over Erin Reilly’s stick. Shannon Reilly drilled a hard shot a half a foot wide. Devin Reilly beat three Wildcats and fired a shot from a tough angle that was kicked out.
When the refs called Saline for a foul late in the game, coach Reilly feared the worst.
“I had a bad feeling when the corner got called,” Reilly said.
Late in the game, Saline had difficulty trying to manufacture offense.
““I’ve seen them play better. When the pressure came they played frantic and tried to do too much themselves instead of passing the ball and using everyone on the field,” Reilly said. “Sometimes you can control the play for 80 percent of the game and still lose.”
The loss put a damper on senior night festivities, but Reilly was sure to recognize her seniors.
“This is a special group. They were my players when I was a middle school coach. It’s been a thrill to watch them develop and succeed over the years,” Reilly said. “They have a post-season to look forward to and I’m looking forward to see what they can do.”
SISU Mouthguard 3 Stars
1. Shannon Reilly - She probably wishes she had a couple of those penalty corners back, but Reilly dominated the middle of the field.
2. Hannah Jarvie - Used her speed to create Saline's best chances.
3. Devin Reilly - Speed, strength and great stickwork caused all kinds of problems for Novi.