Pegasus shocks Pomona

COSTA MESA — With nothing but sixth-graders on its roster, The Pegasus School fifth- and sixth-grade boys' gold division team feels that it can make a run at this year's Daily Pilot Cup.

The Thunder certainly made a statement on the opening day of the six-day tournament.

Eddie Pelc scored late in the second half as Pegasus stunned defending division champion Pomona, 1-0, on Tuesday at Jack Hammett Sports Complex.

It was a satisfying victory for Pegasus, which dominated scoring opportunities. One of Pegasus' top players, Robert Gerschultz, was briefly knocked out of the game in the first half, as his left hand was accidentally stepped on near the end line. His father, watching the game from the sideline, rushed to check on his son.

The younger Gerschultz reentered the game to start the second half. The reason why was simple.

"I knew we had to win," he said.

Pegasus continued dominating possession in the final 25 minutes. Gerschultz, Alex Desbans and Jackson Niedermayer, who is the son of longtime NHL defenseman and current Anaheim Ducks assistant coach Scott Niedermayer, all got good looks at the goal. But most of them were denied by Pomona goalie Kevin Sanchez, who made several diving stops and finished with seven saves.

Finally, Pegasus struck with five minutes left in the contest. Niedermayer's cross found the feet of Sahir Patel, who volleyed it to Pelc for the goal.

"It kind of gave us momentum to finish the game," Niedermayer said of the goal. "This team won it last year, so beating the team that won it last year definitely pumps our team up right now."

Dave Prichard, Darius Smith and Ryan Thorsen provided defensive intensity for the Lightning, and Niedermayer (first-half goalie) and Max Goffman (second half) combined for four saves.

John Bush, Michael Sherlock, Nick Karahalios and Joseph Matveyenko also contributed for Pegasus, which earned eight points in the victory — six for the win, one for the goal scored and another point for the shutout. Pegasus plays against Mariners in its second and final pool-play game at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday.

"I mean, beating the team that won last year, that says a lot," Desbans said. "Our team has a lot of skill and heart. I think we'll go far."

Pomona isn't quite the same squad this year. It has just one returner, sweeper Eric Avonce, from last year's team that captured the school's first Daily Pilot Cup gold division title. Coaches Johny Neri, who attends Back Bay High, and Javier Ramirez (Newport Harbor), said this year Pomona's top squad is mostly fifth graders.

Many of the Pomona players got to Tuesday's game just before it began. At one point, Neri asked the referee what was the minimum number of players Pomona could have to start the game.

Pomona will face Mariners in its final pool-play game on Thursday at 5:30 p.m.

"I just think that my team messed up by none of them coming on time," Neri said. "I just think that next game's going to be a whole lot different. But you know what? We win as a team, we lose as a team."

It was Pegasus that picked up the big team win in the opening game.

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