What started on a sunny day and ended under the darkness on the edge of town (Springsteen reference), Skyline and Saline met on Tuesday night in a MHSAA D-1 District semifinal soccer game. This matchup was headed to overtime before the opening kick as two evenly matched, well-coached, highly skilled and tough high school soccer teams met on the pitch at Skyline High School.
And like many of the games between these two schools, it came down to the final seconds and needed overtime to determine a winner. There have been a soccer field of classic games between Skyline and Saline over the years and this one ranks right up there with the best.
The game started at 5 p.m. and wasn’t decided until nearly 7:30 p.m. when the Eagles scored with 3 seconds left to make it a 3-1 game and lock up a spot in the District final at 6 p.m. on Thursday night against Pioneer. The Pioneers defeated Huron 3-1 in the other semifinal.
While the final 3 seconds were anticlimactic, the other 99 minutes and 57 seconds were as good as it gets with plenty of scoring chances, plenty of excellent soccer and plenty of injuries (both on and off the pitch) – as both teams played hard from start to finish.
With 28 minutes left in the first half, Graham Unsworth proved his worth by putting his team on the scorecard. The junior turned a great individual effort into a perfect shot that tucked in just inside the right post to give the Eagles a 1-0 lead.
Saline had some chances at the other end to try to get even but couldn’t turn opportunities into goals. The Eagles almost went up 2-0 after a brilliant cross by Bryce Minock with 12 minutes to play until halftime but Christian Flick’s flick of the ball hit the post.
The Eagles led 1-0 at halftime.
With 33:51 left in the game, the Hornets evened things up. Saline’s Christian Rossi got behind the Skyline defense and pushed a shot past Eagles keeper Bailey Edison to make it 1-1.
Skyline put incredible pressure on the Saline goal for much of the second half. A few shots missed the mark and Saline keeper Riley Behrman made some nice saves to keep the Hornets even. With around 20 minutes left in the game, Skyline had two excellent chances off throw-ins but couldn’t convert.
The Hornets also had some chances including one cleared by Skyline defender Ethan Walker with 6:20 left in regulation.
The game ended regulation tied at 1-1 and the teams headed to two 10-minute overtimes.
Midway through the first overtime, Skyline earned a corner kick. Unsworth took the kick and the junior curved the ball into the back of the net to give the Eagles a 2-1 lead with 4:15 left in the first OT.
Both teams had chances later in the first OT and the second overtime but the Hornets couldn’t get the equalizer. With just 3 seconds left in the game, Skyline’s Kyan Steudle scored to make it 3-1 and send the Eagles to the next round and the Hornets back to Saline.