WMC downs North Muskegon 3-2 in a Division 4 district tournament soccer showdown

By Justin Haggerty
LocalSportsJournal.com

MUSKEGON – The Division 4 girls’ soccer district tournament, hosted by Western Michigan Christian, has to be one of the most competitive in the state.

WMC, Muskegon Catholic Central and North Muskegon are all perennial powers, and a very strong Fruitport Calvary Christian team is also in contention.

Claudia Kingma controls the loose possession against North Muskegon’s Grace Berends. Photo/Leo Valdez

So some good teams are going to fall by the time the district finals roll around on Saturday. That started on Tuesday, when WMC overcame a North Muskegon comeback and posted an exciting 3-2 overtime shootout victory on its home field.

WMC appeared to have the game in hand with a 2-0 lead with just seven minutes to play, but North Muskegon scored two goals in the final 6:33 to tie the game and send it into overtime.

WMC outshot the Norse 3-2 in the shootout to earn the victory and keep its season alive. The Warriors advance to play Muskegon Catholic on Thursday night at 6:45 p.m. on their home field. MCC defeated Kent City 8-0 on Tuesday night.

“That’s a great team right there,” WMC head coach Dave Hulings said about the Norse. “They’re state-ranked, they’re a championship team. We had to play absolutely perfect. We made a couple mistakes at the end, and then our girls bailed their coach out.

Sophie Mueller changes directions against WMC defender Grace Johnson. Photo/Leo Valdez

“Any coach that lets a 2-0 game get into overtime is just an idiot, so they bailed me out really well. My hat’s off to North Muskegon.”

The Warriors broke a scoreless tie with 8:04 remaining in the first half.

Cassie Kingma took a corner kick and centered it into a crowd, then Harlie Hubers launched the ball past the goalkeeper to put the Warriors up 1-0 at halftime.

The Norse had numerous chances to tie the game early in the second half, but kept shooting the ball too high or just wide of the net. When they got a shot on goal, WMC keeper Ashlyn Lane was there to make the save.

“It’s tough,” said North Muskegon Coach Ryan Berends, whose team won the West Michigan Conference championship this season. “I kind of feel like this was kind of stolen from us, this was our night. We did well, we produced a great number of beautiful scoring chances, we just weren’t able to capitalize. It very easily could have been a different story.”

Lauren Myers looks at the bouncing ball with North Muskegon’s Abby Grevel pursuing. Photo/Leo Valdez

The Warriors extended their lead with 17:08 to play in the second half after North Muskegon was whistled for a penalty.

Kingma was chosen to take the free kick and blasted the ball to the back of the net to put WMC up 2-0.

Though the clock suggested that it was time to panic, North Muskegon remained poised and launched a comeback.

Kendal Hoppa blasted a low shot from the top of the box past Lane with 6:33 to play, making the score 2-1. Abby Grevel followed with a goal with 3:46 remaining to tie the game at 2-2 and force overtime,

The two overtime periods were scoreless. The best scoring opportunity came when WMC’s Morgan Kinnucan put a hard shot on goal, but Norse goalkeeper Hannah Lindstrom made a diving save to preserve the tie.

The Warriors outscored the Norse 3-2 in the shootout to secure the victory. Kaylee Collins, Kingma and Emily Rosema each scored for WMC. Lindstrom and Hoppa scored for the Norse, but Grevel just missed when she hit the crossbar, and Lane made two big saves in goal for WMC.

“I think (Lane) guessed right every time on each of the penalty kicks and saved those two,” Hulings said about his keeper. “That was just fabulous for us. She did a great job stepping up like that.

“It was a good game. It was a good team effort. I’m so proud of my girls, so proud.”

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