Late-minute goal earns Muskegon Community College men’s soccer team spot in Region XII semifinals [VIDEO]

By Ron Rop
Local Sports Journal

There’s nothing quite like waiting until the last minute for some soccer heroics.

But that’s what happened on Wednesday when the Muskegon Community College men’s soccer team tangled with Jackson Community College in a game played at Reeths-Puffer High School.

Michael Schmitt

With 44 seconds left in a 2-all game, Jayhawk Michael Schmitt was hauled down in the box and was awarded a penalty kick.

After Schmitt’s kick, the game was no longer tied the Jayhawks are heading to the Region XII semifinals at noon Saturday at Grand Haven High School.

“It’s a really tough way to end a really hard fought game,” Jayhawk coach Ben Ritsema said. “A PK (penalty kick) in the first minute of the game should be a PK in the last minute of the game. I thought it was a good call.”

In those final seconds, Schmitt gained control of the ball, made a move and headed for the net. When he was knocked to the ground from behind by Jackson’s Marco Larreur, the whistled sounded and the clock was stopped.

Seconds later, the Jayhawks were celebrating a victory over a team they has lost to twice during the regular season.

In the opening half, MCC got on the board “maybe too early” according to Ritsema.

With 41:25 left in the opening half, Kody Harrell launched a corner kick that eluded everyone stationed in front of the Jets’ goal … except Fredi Lopez.

His shot sailed past Jackson goalkeeper Colin Owen and Muskegon led 1-0.

With 14:01 left in the half, the Jets’ most lethal scorer, Sadik Balarde from London, England, scored the first of his two goals.

A pass from Alex Podolski found Balarde who slipped through the Jayhawk defense and fired a shot past MCC goalkeeper Tyler Lane.

Nine minutes later, Balarde struck again. This time he broke in on the right side and fired a low shot that Lane saved. However, the rebound ended up on Balarde’s foot and then ended up on the net.

That’s the way the first ended.

“He is a great player,” Ritsema said. “We talked about him and he did get loose for a couple of goals.”

The Jayhawks elevated their play in the second half and created several scoring chances.

Less than nine minutes into the final half, the Jayhawks gained the game-tying goal.

Eric Hilt launched a long cross from the left side to the right side, where Harrell was running free. His crossing pass found the head of Greg Sischo and the game was tied.

“I just saw an opening in their defense and Kody sent the ball through,” Sischo said. “I just got a little flick on it.”

“He knows what to do with the ball when it’s inside the 18,” Ritsema said of Sischo.

Then came Schmitt’s heroics in the game’s final minute.

“I challenged the guys at the half,” Ritsema said. “I told them if they play like we did in the first half, we will lose.”

Instead, the Jayhawks are heading to Saturday’s semifinals, where they will take on the No. 1 seed, Schoolcraft. The 2 p.m. game will feature No. 2 Owens against the winner of Wednesday’s other first-round game between Cincinnati State Tech and No. 6 Ancilla.

The finals are noon Sunday at Grand Haven High School.


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