Soccer: Pioneer heads to Regional semifinals tonight (Oct. 23) looking to kick away the doubters

Very few people gave the Pioneer soccer team any chance against Skyline – well, except the Pioneers. Very few people gave the Pioneer soccer team any chance against Saline – well, except the Pioneers.

Tonight (Oct. 23) those Pioneers will play in a Regional semifinal game against Grosse Pointe South (13-2-5) at Dearborn High School. It might just be time to start believing in purple and white.

The game against Saline in the District Final on Friday was an incredible soccer game. It was the third meeting between the two schools and it was easy to see both teams respected the other. It also was easy to see plenty of talent on both sides of the field.

“Wow, what a game,” said Pioneer Coach Jon Sundermann, who deserves plenty of praise for rebuilding this program and doing it against some of the best teams in the state. “It was a great night for soccer, great fan support for both teams, definitely a worthy championship match between two really good teams. And if you consider the semifinal matches, what an amazing District.”


Indeed it was. Saline had to get by a very good Dexter team playing on its own field and the Dreadnaughts were clearly just as good as the Hornets. And the defending champion Skyline Eagles came in looking for a second straight title – and we don’t mean a District title.

The Eagles had the talent, experience and coaching to go all the way again. But Pioneer put it all together to knock them out before they really got started.

Pioneer’s reward for beating Skyline? Saline.

“Tons of credit to Saline, their team and coach,” Sundermann said. “They really executed their game plan extremely well. At the end of the day I’m incredibly proud and the total effort – every field player contributed.”

They certainly did. Sundermann was shuffling players in and out all night and by the time the first overtime rolled around Pioneer looked like the stronger team.  

“We’ve preached ‘team’ all year and being ready when your number is called,” Sundermann said. “Two great examples tonight were Garrett Stroud and Dan McDonough. These are two young men who didn’t play as much as they probably would of liked during the year but boy did they step up and give great minutes against Saline.”

Additional great efforts from James Simon, Ben Matton and Andrew Lee in anchoring the center of the field, and of course the Pioneer goal scorers – Austin Jacobs (third header of the year) and Jack Yerkes (who came through clutch as the game wound down).

“And what a game by Caleb Shoup in goal,” Sundermann said. “He made the key save in the shootout and some other big ones during the game.”

It will be all hands on deck again against Grosse Pointe South. This Pioneer team (15-1-4) proved one thing on Friday night – beating Skyline does not a season make. They will now try to prove that winning a District does not a season make.