Pulaski comes from behind to defeat De Pere
By Greg Bates
DE PERE – For the first 62 minutes, the Pulaski boys’ soccer team was held scoreless.
After De Pere took a 1-0 lead midway through the second half, the Red Raiders answered 26 seconds later to tie it.
Keeping the pressure on, Pulaski netted the go-ahead goal with 3 minutes, 18 seconds remaining in a 2-1, Fox River Conference Classic road victory Sept. 23.
“I’m proud (my guys) didn’t hang their heads on that (first goal),” Pulaski Head Coach Jeff Schneider said. “We’ve been working hard this year to stay mentally focused. Adversity happens in soccer games. To get that goal right back, I was proud of them.”
The win is a big one for Pulaski as it tries to stay within striking distance of first place in the conference race.
“We did it for our coach,” Pulaski senior midfielder Johan Kochaver said. “He’s never beaten this team since he’s been here, so that was big for him. We wanted to win this one.”
Schneider joked it only took seven years for him to score his first career victory over De Pere.
Pulaski (6-3-1) got back on track after back-to-back losses.
For De Pere (5-3-2), it’s been a rough stretch.
After starting the season 5-1, the Redbirds are 0-2-2 in their last four games.
“It was the first time this season where we’re missing one or two players,” De Pere Head Coach Martin Valenzuela said. “COVID-19 and injuries start playing a role. We lost against a team that wanted it.”
De Pere, which came into the week ranked No. 9 in Division 1, had five players out of its lineup, including leading goal scorer Kevin Ramirez.
A mix of COVID-19, injuries and sickness had the Redbirds shorthanded.
It also didn’t help two players left the game at halftime due to injuries.
The Redbirds scored first when Derrek Valenzuela split the Pulaski defense and passed the ball to James Dorchester in the box, who buried it into the back of the net.
Twenty-six seconds later, Pulaski had the answer with 62:28 on the clock.
“It was a bang, bang play in the box,” Schneider said. “We had a nice cross in. It got knocked around, and Chase Ambrosius hit a nice shot and finished it.”
During the last 10 minutes of the tie game, Pulaski kept pushing in De Pere’s defensive zone and the persistence paid off.
There was a cross into the box, and the ball bounced around.
Ambrosius took a shot that was blocked, and the ball ended up right next to Kochaver’s foot.
He ripped a shot to his left past sprawling goalkeeper Evan Engel.
“The goalkeeper was coming out on the right,” Kochaver said. “The left was wide open, and I put it in there.”
Schneider said he was impressed with Kochaver’s shot.
“I’ve seen that play 100 times where guys blast it over the net,” he said. “(Kochaver) hit it technically sound. It was a good strike and a beautiful goal.”
With just 3 minutes, 18 seconds left on the clock, Pulaski eliminated any chance De Pere was going to net the equalizer.
Pulaski had several opportunities to score in the second half.
That was due in large part because Schneider made a few changes to his lineup at halftime.
“I thought it worked,” Schneider said. “We didn’t have a great start, which has been our M.O. this year, so we found a way at halftime to find that energy and the enthusiasm it takes. When you’re playing a school like De Pere, you need that, so I was happy to see that.”
Pulaski is amidst a tough stretch on the pitch.
It lost to state-ranked Preble 2-0 Sept. 21, despite a solid effort.
“We played well, but we didn’t get the result we wanted,” Schneider said. “This is something we can build on heading into Bay Port, which should be another big one (Sept. 28) for us.”