Saline twice battled back from behind to pull out a 2-2 tie with Skyline as two of the state’s best teams met in an SEC Red tilt at Skyline Tuesday.
Lucas Tomilo and Jordan Tirico scored for Skyline. Jack Fenelon and Ryan Nichols scored for Saline.
Tomilo opened the scoring and Fenelon replied later in the first half. Tirico scored first in the second half, and Nichols scored the game-tying goal late in the game.
“I’m proud of the team tonight. Skyline is a great team. We were down by a goal twice and we kept coming back and refused to quit,” Saline coach Ryan Williams said. “Coming out of here with a tie was big considering we were down.”
Saline carried the play for the opening six minutes of the game, but it was Skyline who scored first. Tomilo took a long pass from near half and then caught a Saline defender leaning the wrong way, scooted past him and then fired a shot past the outstretched arms of diving Saline goalie Quinn Fox.
It was Jack Fenelon who got it back for the Hornets on one of the prettiest passing plays you’ll see. With about 13 minutes gone in the half, Nichols came speeding up the right wing with the ball. He crossed to the middle, where Anthony Sweier touched it to the left wing for Fenelon, who ripped a hard shot into the top corner, tying the game at one.
After Saline’s goal, the Eagles carried the play for much of the final 20 minutes of the first half. Fox made several stops in goal.
The game was tied at one at halftime.
The Hornets came out flying in the second half. Devin Devries made a great pass to Nichols, who headed the ball just over the Skyline goal. Zeke Gray showed great speed and skill to keep a ball in bounds, maneuver past his man and then center it to a speeding Nichols – but the goalie got there just before him. Nolan Fox fired a hard, low shot that the Skyline keeper stopped with a diving save.
But it was Skyline who scored. Tirico took a cross from Jack Bakker and found himself in prime scoring position. He shot past the diving Fox for a 2-1 lead at the 9:49 mark of the second half.
“We had played very well to that point and we were down. I liked the way we continued to work,” Williams said.
Sweier nearly tied for Saline. At the top of the box, he had a shot blocked. But he picked up the rebound and then circled the perimeter with great acceleration, creating just enough space to fire a shot that hit the side of the crossbar.
With 15:59 to play, Saline was finally rewarded. Devries played a ball into the middle to Nichols , who spun off his defender with force and then fired the ball into the goal. The game was tied at 2.
Again, Skyline responded with pressure. But it was the Hornets who had the best chances to score.
Sweier took a pass and had the ball deep on the left side. He crossed a ball to the center where Gray headed it. The goalie caught the shot.
With 6:44 to play, Nichols beat his man to a cross pass as the goalie charged out at him. Nichols was able to get off the shot, but it went inches over the crossbar.
With 3:41 to play, Sweier possessed the ball at the top of the box. He cut to the right and then fired back to his left, clearly beating the goalie but missing the post by a foot or so.
Gray’s long free kick with a minute to play was punched away by the Skyline keeper.
Although it wasn’t a win, it was an entertaining game.
“It was a great game. These were two of the best teams of the state. There were several momentum shifts and some great goals,” Williams said. The two teams meet again Sept. 28 at Saline.
The Hornets return to action Thursday at home to Pioneer.
Saline is 1-0-1 in the SEC Red and 4-0-1 overall.
The Michigan Power Rodding 3 Stars
- Ryan Nichols – Nichols is playing with a combination of speed, skill and physicality that makes him nearly impossible to contain. He scored a goal, set up another and nearly had a couple more.
- Anthony Sweier – Brought the intensity you want from a leader in a rivalry game. Helped set up a goal. Nearly scored a couple of his own.
- Jake Caldwell – Played great defense against a speedy Skyline attack that looked every bit as dangerous as Saline’s at times.