Local Sports Journal

Western Michigan Christian Warrior soccer coach David Hulings called Thursday’s soccer game against Muskegon Catholic the best in the 9 years he’s guided the Warriors.

And, over the years, there have been some dandy soccer matchups both during the regular season and in the district tournaments.

“It was the best WMC-MCC game since I’ve been here,” said Hulings, whose team posted a dramatic 3-2 victory in a shootout.

WMC goalie Christian Rogers battles for the ball surrounded by a host of Crusaders

WMC goalie Christian Rogers battles for the ball surrounded by a host of Crusaders. Photo/Tim Reilly

“Both teams played with passion,” Hulings said.

“The rivalry lives up to the tale,” MCC coach Bill Moulatsiotis said. “I’d like to think we measure ourselves against WMC so I’m very proud we went to the shootout today.”

The Warriors received goals in regulation by sophomores Will Deur and Ben Mast. Muskegon Catholic’s goals were scored by Adam Callow on a penalty kick and Erik VanFossen on a header.

Callow’s penalty kick broke the scoreless tie with 5:36 remaining  in the first half when a WMC player was called for a handball in the goal box.

The host Crusaders led 1-0 at the half.

But it didn’t take long for the Warriors to not only tie the game, but take the lead. Senior Alex Rop lofted a left-footed centering pass from the left-wing corner that tipped off the fingertips of MCC goalkeeper Todd Hall. The ball ended up on the head of Deur, who punched it into the net. That goal came 42 seconds into the second half.

Slightly more than 2 minutes later, Mast made a strong individual run and eluded several defenders. His left-footed shot slid into the net just inside the far post.

Four minutes later, VanFossen headed in a free kick that evened the score at 2-all.

When the first 80 minutes ticked off the clock, the game progressed into the overtime, where a goal would have been the winner. WMC had several solid scoring chances in the second overtime (with the wind at their backs), but could not produce a winning goal.

MCC goalie Todd Hall makes the save on Alex Rop's shootout attempt. Photo/Tim Reilly

MCC goalie Todd Hall makes the save on Alex Rop’s shootout attempt. Photo/Tim Reilly

In the shootout, the Warriors received goals by Chaise Schuiteman, who was making his first appearance since suffering a leg injury in the season opener last month, Mast,  Matt VanderPloeg and Dylan Mines.

MCC’s goals came from Frank Gasior, Evan Morse and Adam Callow.

With the shootout tied at 3-all, WMC goalkeeper Christian Rogers made a save on a kick by Hall.

“I was really nervous,” said Rogers, who credited goaltender coach Tyler Lane for helping him read shooters body language in the shootout. “He just showed me that yesterday.”

With a chance to win the game, Mines, a freshman, buried a low shot in the back of the net and the Warriors celebrated the hard-fought victory.

“I wish it hadn’t ended this way,” Hulings said. “I don’t  shootouts midseason. Both teams played with such passion.”

WMC is now 3-3.