The Skyline soccer team scored first and last against visiting Pioneer, and in between did just enough to net an impressive 3-2 win on Tuesday night over their city and SEC rivals in a highly contested match on a beautiful night for soccer.
“Been mulling it over and trying to figure out what we did wrong,” said Pioneer Coach Jon Sundermann. “I can’t really point to one thing except that they played their game a little better than we played ours. We got a little out of rhythm in the second half, lost a little focus and they capitalized.”
It was a close match between two evenly matched teams with city pride on the line and both sides played with emotion and focus. Sometimes, a simple breakdown can be the difference in close games like these. Other times, it comes down to which team makes the most of the other’s mistakes.
“We made a couple mistakes that led to their equalizer in the second half which was a quality finish,” Sundermann said. “And then Gabe Kellman made an excellent effort to score the winner on a high-end goal.”
Skyline Coach Chris Morgan was pleased to see his team take it up a notch in the second half and rally against a quality side.
“We did a much better job handling their pressure and settled in more in the second half,” Morgan said. “We did the opposite against Saline so it was nice to see!”
Kellman, a talented senior midfielder for Skyline, netted both goals for the host Eagles in the second half. Peter Pecoits and Kyan Steudle earned assists.
The Eagles opened the scoring early in the first half.
The quick and highly skilled Pecoits took a long pass from August Decz down the middle of the field and got a stop on the Pioneer defender. Pioneer goalie Zach Wilhelm decided to come out of the net but Pecoits was able to just flick the ball past the hard-charging keeper from about 20 yards and watch it roll into the empty net as he headed to the corner to celebrate.
Pioneer tied the game at 1-1 with 8:48 left in the first half on one of their few quality scoring chances in the opening half. Oliver Snelling beat his man down the left side and crossed a perfect ball in front of the Skyline goal. Pioneer’s Dan Gutenberg beat the Skyline defender to the spot and used his right foot to deflect the ball into the net – the Skyline keeper had no chance to save that one.
The goal seemed to fire up the Pioneers who dominated the final 10 minutes of the half.
With the time ticking off the clock late in the first half, the Eagles were called for a foul just outside the left side of their 18-yard box. Pioneer’s Garrett Stroud took the direct kick and the senior lofted a perfect ball in front of the Skyline goal near the far post. Pioneer’s Nano Peroff outjumped the extended finger tips of Skyline goalie Henry Lukela and headed the ball into the net to give the visitors a 2-1 lead with just under 4 minutes to play in the half.
“Cross town rival games are always fun and exciting,” Sundermann said. “Congrats to them. I feel for my guys. We are looking forward to the rematch and then Districts.”
They won’t have to wait long. These two teams meet again on Monday at Pioneer.