By Ron Rop
Local Sports Journal
The Muskegon Catholic Central Crusaders are heading back to the Division 4 soccer regionals after an impressive 2-0 victory over Leland on Tuesday night.
The game was played at Warrior Field, the home of the Western Michigan Christian Warriors. The Crusaders’ effort earned them a spot in a 7 p.m. Friday night regional title game against Bellaire, a 5-2 winner over Big Rapids Crossroads Academy in the evening’s first semifinal game.
“I actually think Leland controlled the game in the second half,” Muskegon Catholic coach Bill Moulatsiotis said. “They definitely had more possession and more chances.”
But, no goals against the Crusaders defense, led by senior goalkeeper Todd Hall.
Leland also had some scoring chances in the opening half, including an extended scramble in front of the Crusader net that eventually was defused with a clear out by an MCC defender.
With 3:58 remaining in the opening half, MCC sophomore Drew Maki lofted a ball over the head over Leland goalkeeper Michael Farese and into the net.
“For us, it (the first goal) was a big boost,” Moulatsiotis said. “It changed the momentum and I think there was a goal called off offsides early in the second and I even think that brought some momentum to our side. It had them on their heels a bit.”
In the first minute of the second half, MCC did get called for offsides after putting the ball in the net.
Near the midpoint of the half, Crusader junior Erik VanFossen had a good scoring chance, but his shot sailed just over the net.
However, it was just 8 minutes later that VanFossen and senior Adam Callow hooked up on a scoring play. VanFossen made the pass and Callow made the shot, a low shot that caught the inside of the far post. MCC had its insurance goal.
“We were able to capitalize and that made all the difference,” Moulatsiotis said.
Hall made his presence felt with 8:10 remaining with a quick kick save on a shot by Leland’s Michael Orosio.
When the clock his zero, the Crusaders followers stormed the field to celebrate a berth in the Division 4 regional title game.
“I think Leland played a heckuva game and I think we matched them as best we could,” Moulatsiotis said. MCC (15-7-1) also defeated Leland 1-0 early in the regular season.
Leland finished the season 20-4-1.
“We had a lot of good chances,” Leland coach Joe Borda said. “I think we were, in the first 20 minutes of the game, more dangerous than they were. We didn’t finish, we didn’t execute, but all the credit to Bill and his guys.
“They came here with a purpose and they are still going to be playing with a purpose,” Borda said.