Omar Hassan summed up Skyline’s District semifinal loss to Brighton last year in one word – “disheartening.” The Eagles took a perfect record into the postseason only to fall to the Bulldogs 2-1 in a close match in Howell.
But that was last year and that team is gone. This is this year. And this year’s team is focusing on year’s team and not about what could have – should have – happened in 2017. Still, it’s in the back of the minds of some of the players who remember that feeling walking off the field and heading home rather than to the District final game.
“The way we will come back from that game started with the work we’ve done in the summer,” Hassan said. “And also the work we are putting in right now in the beginning of the season. That commitment is making a difference. We are pushing through that and focusing on this year’s season, District and beyond.”
So, in other words, last season is gone, but certainly not forgotten. It’s one of the driving forces that pushes this team to take the Skyline soccer program to the next level – the highest level.
The Eagles faced a big early test on Thursday night against city rival Pioneer. The two local teams battled to a scoreless draw in the conference opener for both teams.
“I thought we did some good things,” Hassan said of the draw with the Pioneers. “I think we need to finish better, but I was proud of the way our defense played.”
Thomas Halloran, another one of the Eagles’ talented captains, felt his team did some nice things and also saw a few areas they need to improve on moving forward.
“We came out expecting a fast-paced game against our crosstown rival Pioneer and that’s what we got,” he said. “We knew it would be tough in the midfield and I think far too many times we didn’t see that pass on the outside mid. We were focused too much on playing over the top and through the middle and that made us too compact. We need to space out a little bit more.”
Still, no worries for the Eagles, who won their season opener 7-0 at Petoskey before the scoreless tie with Pioneer. It’s all part of the process.
“As we progress and keep training and playing more games we are going to get better throughout the season,” Halloran says. “It was our first home game so we are always moving forward.”
One of the standout players from the Pioneer game was Kyri Wixom, who pitched the shutout in goal for the Eagles. Like a good keeper and captain does, Wixom kicked over the credit to his teammates.
“It’s a credit to the 10 players in front of me,” he said. “We did really well on defense (against Pioneer) and we were really organized. The defense didn’t let a lot of balls through.”
And the ones they did, Wixom handled.
“We are doing a lot of things on and off the field to get better and push that family environment,” Wixom says. “We need to learn from our mistakes and move on. We need to play our game and not worry about what happened in the past and just focus on what we can control.”
Do the Eagles of 2018 have a personality yet? Let’s finish were we started.
“I think we still have to find it,” Hassan says. “There is definitely a brotherhood. We have a family that no one is going to tear apart. We are starting to jell together and get more comfortable with each other every day. As the games go on and the season goes on, we will find our personality.”
They also hope to find a way to be at the top of their game once the postseason starts and reach that highest level.