By: Seth Kinker, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Saline Hornet Field Hockey team (12-1-1) clinched the D1 Field Hockey title on Oct. 10 at Ann Arbor Skyline, defeating the Eagles, 1-0.
“We know Skyline is always well coached and have kids on the team who have serious grit,” said Hornet head coach Erica Reilly. “We knew it was gonna be a battle, not gonna walk in and take it easyily. They play a big ball game, we play a little bit of a different style.”
After holding the Hornets scoreless in the first half Reilly acknowledged it took the team the first half to adjust to the style.
Early on the Hornets had chances, earning corner after corner and possessing the ball showing what has kept them on the top of the D1 rankings throughout the season, but they couldn’t put one home.
With 13 minutes in the first half, senior midfielder Emily Maloney made a big defensive stop, sliding over from her mark to stop a Skyline forward who made a move to have a clear path to the goal.
Rain fell on and off throughout the night as the Hornets continued to try and score before halftime. Senior forward Erin Reilly had a backhand shot that went just wide.
With 2 minutes remaining in the half, the Hornets had another corner but couldn’t score. The Eagles came down the field and with 45 seconds left, got a shot off that rolled across the face of the goal but no one was home.
A focus for this team has been starting halves fast and In the second half, they did. Senior forward Hannah Jarvie notched the lone goal of the game, cleaning up a rebound in front of the goal.
“One of the things we’re trying to work on is scoring without corners,” said Reilly. “So just putting a ball, I call it feeding, feeding the circle and having our forwards pick up the stray balls in the middle. Ideally, its going stick to stick the in the cage.”
Hornet senior goalkeeper Julia Bentley had two big saves with around fourteen minutes remaining, the first a kick save, and the second coming out to meet the ball.
The Eagles made a late second-half push, but the Hornet defense held stout to secure the title. Next up for the Hornets is the postseason. They have a first-round bye and won’t play until the quarterfinals on Oct. 23 at Saline High School with their opponent to be determined.
“(We’re) not playing for a while, so keeping them mentally in the game,” said Reilly on what the Hornets will be doing with the rest and time off. “They’re teenagers after all. I think we have good leaders, strong female athletes. If they continue to work hard like they’ve been doing they should be on the field for the state championship but it’s not gonna come easy you know? And they’ll have to work hard, speed of thought, foot, and execution.”