The Saline Field Hockey team has advanced to the final four.
Sophomore Emelia Little scored three goals as Saline deleted Grand Rapids Forest Hills in the Michigan High School Field Hockey Association quarterfinal at Saline High School Tuesday night. The Hornets will face Pioneer in the semifinal at 4:30 p.m., Thursday at Huron High School. The winner advances to the championship game Saturday afternoon.
On Tuesday, Little and the Hornets wasted no time. The Hornets pushed the ball up the field and little scored in the opening minute to give Saline the lead.
“We always look to put a lot of pressure on their defense within the first two minutes of the game, so that was great,” Saline coach Erica Reilly said.
Less than five minutes into the game, Little scored again. This time, Erin Reilly got the play started with a long pass from her own end to Bridget Skelly, who carried the ball deep and dished to Little, who scored from about seven yards.
Midway through the half, Saline made it 3-0 on a penalty corner. Maya Prasad inserted to Skelly, who made a nifty move to step around one player before she whipped a high shot into the cage.
Reilly made it 4-0 on another penalty corner before the half was up. She took the insert from Prasad, put the ball through the defender’s leg and then fired a wicked reverse that crashed the cage.
Saline’s fifth goal came after a corner early in the second half. Prasad inserted to Reilly, who dished to Skelly. Skelly’s hard shot never made it through, but Prasad played the loose ball into the slot, where Payton Maloney tapped it past the goalie.
Little completed her hat trick late in the contest, making a smart move around one player and then running the baseline, dragging the ball out front and beating the goalie with a shot.
“I am so excited for Emelia. She’s super poised in there. We’ve been working on driving from the baseline and working in from there, and she did that today and beat the goalie one-on-one,” Reilly said. “I am so proud of her. She has upped her game. She works super hard in practices. We’re seeing it play out on the field.”
Now the Hornets face a rival in Pioneer.
The two teams tied both games this season.
“I know Pioneer is extremely well-coached. The girls are disciplined on that team. It’s going to be a battle out there,” Reilly said. “They want it as badly as we do. I’m looking forward to it.”
The Saline Post 3 Stars
Emelia Little - The sophomore scored the hat trick and kickstarted the Hornets with two early goalies.
Erin Reilly - Scored a goal. Dominated at midfield. Her long passes helped Saline with quick transitions.
Bridget Skelly - Scored a goal. Set up a goal. Used quickness and skill to help the Hornets pressure their opponent all game.