ZIONSVILLE — Carmel didn’t have many opportunities Wednesday night versus Zionsville in the sectional opener and didn’t expect many. The Greyhounds had knocked off the Eagles 1-0 earlier in the season, but knew their opponent came into the game allowing just 0.6 goals per game.
But when Matthew Skaar knocked home a penalty kick with 14 minutes to play, that was all the Greyhounds would need to secure a 1-0 win and advance to Saturday’s sectional championship game. They will face Guerin Catholic at 7 p.m. The Golden Eagles knocked off Westfield 3-0 Wednesday.
“There was quite a bit of pressure, but I just tried to put us ahead because I knew we were good enough defensively to hold on for the rest of the match,” Skaar said. “I trust our defensive line and know they’ll support us back there. Once you get going, you’re locked into the game.”
The Eagles managed just one shot on goal in the first half and none in the second half. They had a penalty kick opportunity with 18 minutes to go, but missed.
“I thought we had a lot of momentum,” Zionsville coach Rob Jordan said. “You see that so often with a missed opportunity. Sometimes things just kind of swing. That’s what it boils down to. They hit their opportunity and we missed ours.”
Carmel’s defense has been stout all season, allowing just 12 goals all season.
“Good individual defending leads to good team defending,” Carmel coach Shane Schmidt said. “We take pride in the way we individually defend.”
Though Carmel has had the upper hand in the rivalry recently — the Greyhounds have won the last four matchups — Schmidt knows it is always going to be close.
“I expected pretty much exactly how the game went tonight,” he said. “Two rivals, we played to the same score earlier in the season and we see each other a lot in the state tournament. I expected exactly what it was — an emotional, hard-fought physical game.”
Now Carmel turns its attention to the Golden Eagles, who score 1.7 goals per match and allow 0.8. They have not lost since Aug. 27 against Brebeuf and are 12-2-3 on the season.
“We’ll talk about it and get things ready to roll,” Schmidt said. “Our players are all familiar with each other.”