Tied with Saline with 12 minutes remaining, Skyline looked to be on the verge of another deep playoff run, akin to those of years past.
Saline, seeking revenge for a loss to the Eagles in the 2018 district final, had other ideas. Two goals on corner kicks in a five-minute span from Christian Rossi ended Skyline’s season in a 2-0 defeat to the host Hornets in a Division 1 District final.
Skyline head coach Chris Morgan said the team “played with fire” by giving Saline the late corner-kick opportunities.
“We knew they were most dangerous on their set pieces,” Morgan said. “That’s how they scored on us when we played them the second time. We knew what we were up against.”
The first goal by Rossi came with 11:11 remaining in the game, barely 2 minutes after a prime scoring chance for Skyline on a penalty kick sailed over the net. Saline senior Brayden Stavros sent in the ball, and found Rossi in the perfect spot for the goal.
Rossi’s second goal looked like a repeat of the first. Stavros sent the ball in, and connected with Rossi in point-blank range to stretch Saline’s lead to 2-0 with 6:34 remaining.
“Sometimes it’s not necessarily what you do wrong, it’s what the other group does right, and they put those balls in the back of the net. Hats off to them, those were great finishes,” Morgan said.
Skyline advanced to the finals with a 2-0 win over Dexter on Tuesday. Saline reached after knocking out Pioneer in a shootout.
The Eagles and Hornets split their two games during the SEC regular season. Saline was the SEC Red Division champions.