They all nodded their heads. They all agreed. And they all verbally announced it.
The three captains of the Pioneer soccer team do not want Wednesday’s win over Skyline to define their season. As fun and meaningful as knocking out the defending champions and city rivals sounds, it’s not something you are going to someday tell your grand kids.
“Yeah, we had a great team…we won a District semifinal game.” Just doesn’t sound as good as, “Yeah, we had a great team…we won a District championship.”
To win that District championship, the Pioneers are going to have to knock off another soccer dynasty. Saline is one of those programs that excels every year. They are always a team you are going to have to beat to go far into the playoffs. The Hornets knocked off a very good Dexter team on Wednesday 1-0 to set up Friday night’s final (Oct. 18, 5 p.m. at Dexter).
The two SEC Red Division teams met twice this season with Saline wining 1-0 and Pioneer winning 2-0. This game sets up as the rubber match with everything on the line.
“In the games they’ve played us, they seemed to have favored a bit of a counter attacking style and have the players to make it happen,” says Pioneer Coach Jon Sundermann, giving his scouting report on the Hornets. “Zeke Grey is one of the top three players in the conference, not to mention an All-State selection last year and is always very dangerous.”
He was dangerous, and the difference, on Wednesday. Grey scored the only goal in Saline’s 1-0 win over the host Dreadnaughts.
“We definitely need to limit the opportunities Zeke has to do ‘Zeke things’ like score and create,” Sundermann says.
The Hornets also have some really strong players throughout the rest of the roster such as Noel Sompa, Brayden Stavros, and the Rossi brothers (Dominic and Christian).
“When we played them previously, they were very organized defensively, got numbers behind the ball and have had outstanding goalkeeping from Sam Herner all year,” said Sundermann. “Knowing Coach (Ryan) Williams, I’m sure he’ll have a few new wrinkles and I expect it to be a very competitive and entertaining game between teams that know each other well.”
The winner advances to the first round of Regionals where they will play Grosse Pointe South at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 27 at Dearborn High School. Dearborn vs. Salem is the other Regional game in that Region 2 bracket.
When area soccer coaches first looked at the Division 1 District schedule there had to be a few “wow” reactions when they figured out the probable semifinal match-ups. Skyline, Pioneer, Saline and Dexter – four very strong programs. Beating Skyline and Saline back to back? Now that’s earning a District title.
And it sounds pretty good, too.