The stage is set. The pitch is ready. And it may or may not rain. Welcome to the MHSAA Division 1 Soccer Districts.
Skyline advanced last week with an easy 8-0 win over Ypsilanti. Gabe Kellman scored three goals and Tyler Warren and Noah Thompson kicked in two. Kyan Steudel added a goal for the Eagles.
The Eagles advanced to today’s (Oct. 20, 5 p.m.) semifinal game against host Dexter. The Dreadnaughts knocked out Huron 3-1 in their District opener. Jack Kolka scored two goals for Dexter – both on corner kicks.
“I think the key to beating Dexter in this game will be our pace of play and sticking to our game and not theirs,” says Caleb Sauers, one of three Skyline captains. “Another important piece to beating Dexter is to focus on just Dexter, and not worrying about anything beyond Dexter. We need to be 100 percent focused on the task at hand in order for us to be able to win and move on to our next game.”
Big picture, Sauers, thinks his team is ready for this great challenge.
“This District is always tough, but I think we are up to the challenge this year,” he says. “We have a lot of seniors on our team, and these next games could be some of the last games some of us might ever play. I think this will help push our guys to play to our best abilities and really put on a good show this Tuesday.”
The Dreadnaughts have plenty of reason for optimism. They won the SEC White in a landslide and went unbeaten with just one tie this season. They may have not played against the level of competition Skyline did this past regular season, but you can only play your schedule. The Dreads will have the advantage of playing at home and on their own turf – which is grass. The Eagles played a majority of their games on turf this season – maybe that plays a factor?
“In terms of beating Skyline we know that they have a few really good players, and we need to keep an eye on them throughout the game,” says Andrew Scherer, one of Dexter’s captains. “They are a really good team, but we think we can match up against them.”
The other side of the bracket features another huge game against equally as good and even opponents.
Pioneer advanced last week with a 7-0 win over Lincoln in their first-round game. The Pioneers had goals from seven different players – Dan Gutenberg, Dan McDonough, Evan Chamberlain, Ollie Schnelling, Alvin Ding, Connor Lyle and Luca Giuliano.
Pioneer will face SEC Red champion Saline in Tuesday’s semifinal game at 7 p.m. at Saline. The Hornets blanked Belleville 3-0 in their first District contest.
Saline defeated Pioneer in the first meeting this year on a goal in the final minute. They tied the second time they met at Pioneer. The Pioneers knocked out Saline in last year’s District final.
Just an FYI, the four evenly matched teams in the semifinals won their first-round games by a combined score of 21-1. Yeah, pretty impressive.
The finals are at 7 p.m. on Thursday at Saline.