The Pioneer soccer team opened Districts on Monday and kicked their way to the next round with a solid 3-0 win over visiting Belleville. The Pioneers built a 2-0 lead and then fought off a Tiger team that kept roaring until the final whistle.
That’s the good news.
Now the challenging news. The Pioneers advance to a semifinal game at 7 p.m. on Wednesday against Saline. The Hornets, who defeated Lincoln in Monday’s first round, are the third-ranked team in the state and won the SEC Red Division this season.
“We are looking forward to a very tough match as they are senior laden with a lot of talent,” Pioneer Coach Jon Sundermann said of Saline.
Back to the good news.
Lewie Fichera got the Pioneers off and running with a quick goal against the Tigers. The senior scored just 1:30 into the game to give the hosts a 1-0 lead.
After the quick goal, the game settled out a bit with the high winds making it challenging for both teams.
Pioneer senior Macha Conde made it 2-0 with a nice finish off a cross from senior Mitchell Wojtowich who was able to work through a challenge from the Belleville defense.
Pioneer led 2-0 at halftime.
The second half was up and down with Belleville proving difficult to put away.
Conde netted his second goal of the game to push the lead to 3-0. He put in a rebound after a long-range shot from Ali Houmani.
“It was a good challenge and we were able to ease some guys with injuries back into the lineup in hopes that they’ll be ready for Wednesday’s game vs. Saline,” Sundermann said. “We were able to get all the seniors on field for the last bit as it was their last game at Hollway regardless of how we do the rest of the way.”
Pioneer’s defense was solid all night long.
“James Simon was again exceptional at the back,” he said. “He has really been a rock in the back line for us. In a bit of a lineup shuffle, Nixon Holley played very well in the hold midfield spot in his first (I think) start this year.”