By: Seth Kinker, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Saline Field Hockey season ended on Oct. 27 at Al Ritt Stadium in Dexter, MI. The division one No. 1 ranked Hornets faced off against the No. 2 ranked Ann Arbor Huron River Rats, falling 1-0.
After claiming the regular season title, the Hornets were looking to capture the state title on Saturday. They defeated Forest Hills (4-0) in the quarterfinals and Dexter (1-0) in the semifinals to set up the Oct. 27 matchup against last year ’s state champion.
In the first half, the defending state champion River Rats showed what had gotten them to the title game last year. They held a majority of possession in the first half as the Hornets worked hard to clear their defensive third and look to counter on offense.
“We know they’re a fast moving, well-coached team,” said Hornet head coach Erica Reilly. “ They basically never stop moving. Blue collar players, they get out there and grind. We knew we had our work cut out for us today.”
With 21 minutes remaining, the Hornets were awarded a corner, but the shot went wide left.
“We basically did everything we could to get the ball out of our defensive end,” said Reilly on the first half. “We were under a tremendous amount of pressure, Huron moves the ball so well on offense. We were fortunate we didn’t come out with goal against us. I told them at practice (last week) you might get one opportunity to score. You gotta take it and we missed an opportunity on the one corner we had. That’s a bummer.”
Less than a minute later, Hornet senior goalkeeper Julia Bentley turned away a searching pass coming across the middle of the field. Bentley kept the Hornets in the game throughout the night, as she and the defense withstood constant pressure.
“Julia did a tremendous job all day,” added Reilly. “She and (sophomore defender) Shalen Murphy scrapped it out in the backfield so well.”
Bentley had two more quality saves, a sliding save with 17 minutes remaining, and a save off of a corner with six minutes in the first half, to keep the score even at zero.
In the second half, the Hornets were able to battle back for a more possession. AS the half went on, however, the River Rats continued to push and with 18:17 remaining, the River Rats were awarded a corner after a kick from Bentley went high and was ruled dangerous play.
River Rat senior Allison Sabb would score the only goal in the game, a rebound off of the corner.
— Seth Kinker (@SethKinker) October 27, 2018
“It was a scramble in front of the net, Julie punted it out, it went high,” said Reilly on her point of view of the call. “A lot of the times they’ll allow the high ball, but they called it dangerous play in this case . Even though it went up and out to our left defender who played it above her head. They called it a corner based on dangerous play and that’s when they scored.”
During the last ten minutes, the Hornets urgency got them in the Hornet defensive third, but they couldn’t find the back of the net and the game ended 1-0.
After the game Reilly said the team had nothing to be ashamed about, winning the regular season title and making it to the state final game.
“We did our best today, that’s the message, everyone dug deep. We walk away with a 1-0 loss, it’s not because we didn’t play hard,” said Reilly.
“I kind of yelled at them for crying,” added Reilly with a laugh. “There’s nothing to cry about here. Go over, shake a hand, tell them job well done. There’s nothing to be sorry about. Of course we wanted it to go our way, but the girls played their hearts out.
This senior class had two players on the 2015 division two state title team and made people take notice of field hockey at saline highs school.
“I think field hockey players are noticed around campus a bit more,” said Reilly on the impact of the senior class. “Saline high school where you’re chalk full of amazing sports, every program is just dynamite. Here’s this program coming in called field hockey, they put this sport on the map for us. It’s a super cool thing.”