By Steve Gunn
They demonstrated that Tuesday night when they lost a player due to a red card violation late in the second half, and were not allowed to replace him.
That meant the Bucs had to play 13 minutes of regulation and two 10 minute overtime periods a player short, a situation that usually ends badly for most teams.
But they somehow managed to get through regulation with a tied game, then Drew Van Andel scored the go-ahead goal with 4:39 left in the second overtime, giving Grand Haven a dramatic 2-1 victory over Jenison in the opening round of the Division 1 district tournament.
Grand Haven, now 12-4-2 on the season, advances to play Holland West Ottawa on Thursday in the district semifinals. The winner of that game will play in the district finals on Saturday morning.
“It’s been a long time since we’ve been in a situation like that in a game that big,” said Grand Haven Coach Aaron Dean, whose team has won four straight Division 1 district championships. “For a while we didn’t respond well, but at some point we settled down and realized we were okay.
“We didn’t want to give up too much at the back end (in the minutes after the red card) – we’ve been strong defensively all year long – and we wanted to try to hold and maintain. But in the second overtime we threw a little more at them, with two guys at the top, and I think it might have caught them off guard a little bit.”
The contest was tight from start to finish. Grand Haven managed to avoid more problems with a number of great saves by senior goalkeeper Garrison Mast.
He stopped seven of eight Jenison shots in the game, including two in the first half. He made a jumping save on a long, bouncing shot that could have easily gone over his head, then dove to his right to make another great save a while later.
Mast also stopped four of five shots in the crucial second half, and made a terrific catch save on a redirected shot in the second overtime that preserved Grand Haven’s final lead.
“Garrison has been fantastic,” Dean said. “He’s a third year varsity player and a captain. He’s made some huge saves for us. We have a lot of faith that he’s going to make the saves he’s got to make when it counts.”
Grand Haven took a 1-0 lead with 6:28 left in the first half when junior Mac Mahacek unleashed a high shot from about 20 yards out that got over the head of Jenison goalkeeper Xavier Austin.
Trouble came for Grand Haven with about 13 minutes left in the second half when a player was ejected for an unannounced infraction. Dean said he did not see what happened so he couldn’t form an opinion about the call.
Jenison tied the game at 1-1 about three minutes later when Isaac Dieterie scored from close range following a corner kick.
But Grand Haven remained strong the rest of the way, keeping Jenison from taking the lead despite having the player advantage.
That set up Van Andel’s winning goal in the second overtime, which came on a header on a long free kick from the midfield range by David Krapohl.
“(Van Andel) is one of the tallest kids on the field,” Dean said. “We’ve got a couple guys like him who can jump, so we we just want to make sure we get service into the box so they have a chance to get their heads on it.
“I think Drew might have missed a couple headers earlier, so he might have been a bit more motivated to make that one go in.”