By Sean Ditmore/sports writer
In spite of a stirring second half comeback, the Wayland Pioneers’ soccer squad came up on the short end of a 3-2 decision during their home-opener against the Mid-American Christian Evangels on Tuesday afternoon at Hilliard Field.
The Pioneers (1-2), who trailed 2-0 at halftime, managed to climb back into the game with a long distance shot by freshman Amber Perez about four minutes into the second period. Two more freshmen got into the act 33 minutes later when Renee Ulloa put a shot on net that the MACU goalie failed to handle, and Kelly Abrego kicked in the rebound to tie the game at two.
Pioneers coach Shiloh Posey was encouraged by the comeback.
“The girls showed that they can come back from being down. They showed a lot of heart,” Posey said.
Ultimately, however, it was not enough as Evangel’s junior Christina Black scored the go-ahead goal on a breakaway with just more than two minutes remaining in the game.
When asked if fatigue may have played a role late in the game for the Pioneers, who currently have only 14 eligible players, Posey said, “I think that was part of it . . . one of our starters went down early (sophomore forward Danielle Purcell), which put us a player short for most of the game.”
The Pioneers gave their chances of winning few favors in the first half by giving up a pair of goals to Evangel’s freshman Brittany Foos on corner kicks near the end of the half.
“We didn’t mark up like we should have. We didn’t play defense like we should have,” Posey said.
The Evangels had six corner kicks in the game, while Wayland had none.
The halftime margin might have been wider if not for a spectacular save on a penalty shot and the subsequent rebound by Wayland freshman goalkeeper Kylie Middleton, who finished with eight saves on the day.
“It’s very rare that you get a save on a penalty kick like that, much less two (shots). She did an excellent job on that,” Posey said.
The loss dropped the Pioneers record to 1-2 on the season.