The game started out with Skyline dominating, controlling play, firing shots and taking an early 1-0 lead while limiting Brighton to only a handful of chances in the entire first half.
As the sun slowly faded, the game quickly changed as Brighton began to control play and take advantage of some uncharacteristic sloppy play from the Eagles in the second half. All that led to a goal and a 1-1 tie.
Both teams were playing hard and as things began to even out as the clock began winding down it was clear that the winner of this Division 1 District semifinal game would come down to the simplest of all things – the team that would finish its next chance would be playing on Friday night while the other would move on to winter sports.
The chance and finish came from Brighton’s Charles Sharp, who followed up his own rebound on a ball that first hit the crossbar, and knocked it into the Skyline net with just 7:17 left in the game to make it 2-1.
The Eagles put on some pressure in the final few minutes but couldn’t even things up before the clock finished them off. The loss was Skyline’s first of the season and knocked out the No. 1 ranked team in the state.
The Eagles took off early, made several excellent runs and weren’t afraid at firing shots at the Brighton goal. A header by Elijiah Maze off a corner was their first excellent scoring chance and it came in the game’s first few minutes.
Jordan Tirico made a strong move to beat a defender and then rifled a shot from 30 yards that forced a good save. A few minutes later, Jack Bakker came in from the left side and fired a shot that just missed the near post.
The Bulldogs then had their best scoring chance of the first half that got past Skyline keeper Russell Noble but standing along the goal line was Chris Emerson. The sophomore was right where he should have been at exactly the right time and cleared the ball before it found its way into the goal.
After another hard shot off the foot of Bryce Schaner, the Eagles took the lead when Omar Hassan came down along the far right wing and sent a shot – or maybe a pass – toward the goal. The ball curved over the outstretch Brighton keeper and into the net for a 1-0 lead at 20:19.
The Bulldogs came out barking the second half and looked nothing like the team that watched the Eagles control play. They made runs, took hard shots and put pressure on the team in white right from the start.
At 33:35 they ripped a shot off the crossbar. Then, a direct kick forced Skyline keeper Russell Noble to make a great save to keep it at 1-0.
A few minutes later, Noble came up big again on a point-blank shot.
But at 28:23, Brighton’s Keegan Gormley scored off a set play from about 25 yards to tie the game at 1-1.
Skyline came right back but a nice hard shot by Bakker was stopped by the Brighton keeper.
Big defensive plays by Emerson, Omar Hassan and Blake Sundermann helped keep the game even until the Bulldogs finally broke through.
The teams played fairly even the rest of the way until the Bulldogs scored what turned out to be the game-winner.