Penalty shot lifts Ann Arbor Skyline boys soccer over De La Salle, into D-1 title match

By: Jason Carmel Davis | Online Only | Published October 31, 2018

TROY — The Ann Arbor Skyline boys soccer team outlasted Warren De La Salle 2-1 in two overtimes Oct. 31 to advance to the Nov. 3 Division 1 state title match.

A controversial call set the stage for the winning score.

With 2:55 left in the first of two overtimes, a De La Salle player was carded for a handball infraction, which set the stage for Skyline senior midfielder Kai Jurgle to drain a penalty shot to give the Eagles a 2-1 advantage.

“I didn’t see the call,” Jurgle said. “I was only thinking about stepping up and putting the ball in the corner of the net.”

Skyline coach Chris Morgan said he didn’t see the infraction. Morgan said the game could have gone either way and that the call didn’t decide the game.

De La Salle coach Thaier Mukhtar shared Morgan’s sentiments. Mukhtar said the game was a hard-fought battle on both sides.

Skyline (16-4-2) advances to the 2018 D-1 championship game to face East Kentwood High (17-3-1), set for Nov. 3 at a time and site to be determined. East Kentwood knocked off Grand Blanc High 1-0 Oct. 31 to move on.

Skyline won a D-1 title in 2013 — its only other appearance in a state final. East Kentwood seeks its sixth state championship since 2007. The Eagles are in their 10th year as a varsity program.

“Coach Morgan has done a great job with the program,” Jurgle said. “I saw the team win in 2013 and I want to be a part of the next Skyline state championship team.”

The Eagles struck first, as senior defenseman Marco Althoen took a shot via header off a corner kick that got past the Pilots keeper to give Skyline a 1-0 lead with 13:06 left in the first half.

De La Salle (19-4-4) finally got a shot past Skyline senior keeper Kyri Wixom, as senior midfielder Rocco Galati off a pass from junior forward Thomas Turner hit a laser past Wixom to tie the match at 1-1 with 7:55 left in regulation. Galati’s goal marked the first allowed by Skyline in the postseason.

De La Salle bested Utica Eisenhower 2-1 Oct. 27 to claim its first regional title since 2011. The Pilots have five state titles to their credit — all under Mukhtar. Despite the state semifinal setback, De La Salle in six playoff games outscored opponents 22-6.

“They outplayed us in the first half,” Mukhtar said. “You could see our conditioning come into play in the second half. They got tired out. Some of the passes they made in the first half weren’t as strong later in the game.

“We knew they liked to put the ball in the box and that’s how the goals were scored.”

Mukhtar, who returned to De La Salle after six years at Fraser High, in the first game of the season recorded his 500th win with the program. The storied coach ends the season with 793 career wins in 36 seasons as a head coach.

“It’s all about these kids,” Mukhtar said. “I’m glad (De La Salle) administration wanted me back. We had a really good year. The team was 8-9-6 last season. I know it stings now, but the players will realize they made a miraculous run. We want these types of seasons every year.”