Veteran Pioneer boys lacrosse team pulls away from Skyline for 7-3 win
Skyline lacrosse may have a young nucleus with a bright future.
But Pioneer has a 19-player senior class that can win games now.
Pioneer got five of its goals from seniors and a strong effort in goal from senior Jeffrey Duart-Digon, as it topped crosstown rival Skyline 7-3 Friday night at Hollway field.
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After falling behind 2-1 with six minutes, 27 seconds left in the first half, the Pioneers rallied for five consecutive goals, and didn't allow Skyline to score again for more than 24 minutes.
“After the first quarter, as we talked about, keep your head on straight, battle,” Pioneer coach Smith Atwood said. “That’s what this team has proven to be good at, battling from being down.”
Seniors Peter Burke and Dylan Graham scored two goals apiece, as did junior Erik Barroso. Senior David Kwak scored Pioneer’s other goal. Duart-Digon made eight saves.
Atwood said his seniors in particular have developed chemistry from being close friends who are always willing to spend spare time at the field taking shots.
“The one thing I’ve found with having such a huge senior class is they’re all great friends, they’re all great friends,” Atwood said. “They’ve all been with each other for four years through the freshman team, back when we had a freshman team, to the JV team and now the varsity team.”
John Crowley, Alex Wood and Dan Lee notched Skyline’s goals.
Skyline (2-2) led 1-0 and 2-1 early, before Pioneer (2-2) scored a pair of goals in the last 3:38 before halftime to take the lead. Barroso scored on a long shot from outside, and Burke scored off of a Skyline turnover right by its own net.
Pioneer also killed off four straight penalties in the second quarter to prevent Skyline from lengthening its lead.
“It was a frustrating sequence, but it’s just our guys, they’re kind of undisciplined in a game like this,” Skyline coach Jack Robenalt said. “In games like this, the high-pressure games can get to them. They’re young, and they still need some growing, so you could kind of see in a game like this they could grow a little bit from it.”
Pioneer opened a season following a state finals appearance with an 11-10 loss to South Lyon and a 9-6 loss to Detroit U-D Jesuit, its defense hampered when Bryan Matney, who Atwood calls the quarterback of his team’s defense, went down with a preseason injury.
But in its last two games, including Wednesday against Saline, Pioneer has given up just six goals.
“I couldn’t be prouder of our defense, because they played really, really well against a very good, talented team,” Atwood said.
The game was one that had been marked on both teams’ calendar. Atwood, a first-year coach, and Robenalt were Pioneer teammates and remain close friends. Two Skyline assistants were a part of Pioneer’s state runner-up team last year as well.
“The kids have been excited all week in practice,” Atwood said. “A lot of these kids are very good friends, not to mention their staffs are very good friends, the assistant coaches all played here last year. There’s a lot of people that all know each other between these two teams and a lot of bragging rights on the line.”