The No. 7 ranked Ann Arbor Huron River Rats fell to the top-ranked Saline 6-4 on Wednesday in competitive water polo match.
Despite adjusting well at halftime and mounting a strong comeback, the Rats came up short on man up opportunities and on called plays to leave goals on the table verse a stingy Hornet defense.
Cassie Anderson (2 goals) and Maddy Murphy (2 goals) were key to the Hornets success, executing well out of set, punishing the Rats on quick 6on5 right-backs and Anderson on one impressive occasion zinging in a 9 meter, no hesitation upper corner shot that had no arc.
Working the ball primarily on the 4-5 side, with occasional forays in passing to shooters at the 3 and 2 spots, the Hornets pounced early on defensive mistakes the Rats made in running their drop defense. Quickly burying a couple of shots, the game looked to be a blowout as the Hornets held a 4-0 lead at the half.
The Rats, however, cinched in their defense in the third and discovered the golden arm of senior captain Emily Marsh (4 goals). With senior captain Lynsey Kingma effectively guarding set and orchestrating the defense, Marsh stepped up with a series of outside shots that either trickled or zinged into the goal past the arms of goalie Katie Wagner.
Holding the Hornets to a single goal in the third, the Rats entered the fourth down 5-1 but determined to make a game of it.
Quick shots by Marsh, effective field blocks by Kingma, a lockdown presence in net by senior captain Claire DenHouter and a total team effort in running the drop by senior captain Hannah Frazier, Kirby Gardner, Sophie Flott, Kristen Clyde, Susan Dowling and some tricky drives by Elaina Baker pushed the Rats to 5-3.
Trading timeouts to set up plays, the Rats were unable to make it a 1 goal game and Saline banged in a beauty out of set to put them up 6-3 with 27 seconds left. Irked, Marsh netted another from 9 meters plus with 10 seconds remaining to find our final score of 6-4.
The Rats play Skyline next at Skyline on Friday at 4 p.m., and meet up with Saline again on the back end of their home-and-home on Monday.