Saline fell to Pioneer 3-0 in a battle of last year’s field hockey state champions.
Pioneer, the two-time defending Division 1 state champion, scored all three of its goals in the first half.
Saline, which advanced to Division 1 this year after winning the Division 2 championship last year, fell to 4-2-1 in the top division.
Saline seemed to match Pioneer in speed and energy, but the Pioneers were more opportunistic around the Saline goal. The Pioneers also did well keeping the Saline shooters away from the goal most of the game.
“I couldn’t ask for more than the girls gave. They ran full bore the entire game,” Saline coach Erica Reilly said. “They did everything we asked of them in the second half and the score was 0-0 in the second half. I’m so proud of the way they rose to the occasion. Pioneer is an amazing team. They’re back-to-back state champions and they know how to put the ball in the net.”
The game began with action up and down the field. Pioneer’s first goal came after a Saline turnover led to a Pioneer corner. After the first shot was turned aside, Tess Flanders deflected a second shot past Saline goalie Keerthana Akella. The Pioneers led 1-0 just 2:09 into the game.
Saline was unfazed. About 6:30 into the game the Hornets had their best chance of the half. Devin Reilly brought the ball in from the sideline, maneuvered between two Pioneers and then smashed a hard, long backhander that made its way through a crowd to the net.
Late in the half the Hornets exerted great offensive pressure, but the Pioneers regained possession and turned the play upfield. After Akella turned away one shot, Mack Stoy scored on a rebound that was deflected into the Saline goal.
With 1:24 to play, the Hornets turned the ball over in their own end. Stoy ripped a hard shot past Akella for a 3-0 lead.
The teams were scoreless in the second half. Sophomore Julia Bentley, relieved Akella and made several great stops.
Saline’s best chance came when Hannah Jarvie centered a pass across the crease. The always-dangerous Sophia Tzavaras was tangled with a Pioneer defender and couldn’t get her stick on the ball.
The Hornets weren’t able to beat the Pioneer defense, but Reilly was pleased the team held the Pioneers off the board in the second half.
SISU Mouth Guard 3 Stars
- Julia Bentley – It’s a tough for a goalie to enter the game at halftime against the defending state champions, but Bentley was rock solid and aggressive in making several good saves. “She’s got a little bit of that Kennedy Boyer spirit,” coach Reilly said, comparing her sophomore to last year’s all-state goalie.
- Emily Maloney – Came in off the bench and provided a spark, causing a couple of turnovers and spearheading dangerous attacks up the field. “She did an amazing job. She came in off the bench and played right midfield and did a phenomenal job. She was scrappy, she attacked and she got one or two corners,” Reilly said.
- Devin Reilly – Made several great plays to create offensive chances, particularly in the first half.