Erin Reilly scored the game’s only goal as Saline defeat Dexter in the Michigan High School Field Hockey Association semifinal Thursday evening at Hornet Stadium.
Saline advances to the Division 1 championship game against Huron at 2 p.m., Saturday, at Dexter High School. The Hornets are playing for their second state title – having won the Division 2 championship three years ago, when today’s seniors were freshmen.
On Thursday, the Hornets struck early and then held a dangerous Dexter team to just one shot on goal – kicked out by goalie Julie Bentley.
About 12 minutes into the contest, Devin Reilly won the battle for a loose ball on the far sideline. She passed to the middle to Erin Reilly, who sprinted up the middle and cracked the ball past the Dexter keeper.
“I took it into the circle and hit it and I think it hit of someone and went high and to the left,” said Erin Reilly.
Coach Erica Reilly said the Hornets often rely on scrambles in front of the net. But they have the shooters to be more direct.
“She took a blast. Our girls are used to scrapping it out right in front of their net. I just said ‘enter the circle and take the shots,’” Reilly said. “It was nice that Erin was able to through the middle like that.”
It turned out to be the only goal of the game.
Reilly said Saline won the defensive struggle with a total team effort.
“For us, 1-0, we’re not use to this score. We’re used to putting more balls in the net. I commend the entire team. This was a full team effort. I’m so proud of the girls,” Reilly said. “I just told the girls, ‘job well done.’ But our work isn’t finished yet.”
Saline and Huron played at Huron earlier this year. Huron won, 2-1. Hanna Jarvie opened the scoring on a penalty stroke but Huron scored two on penalty corners. It was Saline’s only loss of the season.
“They’re fast moving. They never stop. They’re always on the ball. Every one of their kids can play,” Reilly said. “For out defensive team, it’s very tough to beat a team like that never stops moving. We’ve got our work cut out for us.”
Saline’s penalty corner defense was as generous as Scrooge-like against Dexter. The Dreadnaughts were awarded six penalty corners and couldn’t generate a shot on goal. Reilly said her PC defense was incredible.
“Hannah Jarvie is our flyer. She’s amazing and so incredibly poised. She can break down her steps. So if the ball gets swung out to the left or right, she can break down her steps and get out to the ball,” Reilly said. “The whole defense did an amazing job but Hannah was at the top.”
The Hornets are pumped for the chance to play for the state championship.
For junior Bridget Skelly, it’s her first state championship game.
“It feels great. I’ve waited for this – this is my third year I’ve waited for this,” Skelly said. “I think this is our year. We’re really going to take it to them on Saturday.”
Devin Reilly and Hannah Jarvie played in the Division 2 championship game at Skyline three years ago. Reilly scored one of the goalies in the dramatic shootout. The seniors’ experience will be important Saturday.
“I think we just have to remember to keep it simple, keep up the momentum and just play our game,” Devin Reilly said.