Western Michigan Christian wins soccer regional title with a 1-0 win, advances to Wednesday’s state semifinals

LocalSportsJournal.com

A year ago, the Western Michigan Christian boys soccer team came home bitterly disappointed following a tough loss in the Division 4 state semifinals.LSJ Logo incert

Now the Warriors are going to get another chance.

WMC downed Leland 1-0 Saturday in a Division 4 regional final contest in Traverse City. Evan Fles scored the winning goal for the Warriors, propelling them into Wednesday’s state semifinals against Kalamazoo Hackett at East Kentwood High School at 6 p.m.

The winner of that game will play in the state finals next Saturday against the winner of the Lansing Christian-Genessee Christian semifinal.

The area’s regional finalist – Ludington – lost 1-0 to Gladwin in Division 3 on Saturday.

The WMC-Leland contest was played in rainy and sloppy conditions.

Leland appeared to score first goal around the 19 minute mark when a corner kick was headed into the WMC goal just under the post. But a referee waved the goal off, ruling that the ball had gone out of bounds and back in before going in the net.

Fles scored the only goal of the game at the 31 minute mark, taking a centering pass at the top of the box from teammate Cal Robarhn.

“It was a beautiful goal, one we work on every day in practice,” said WMC Coach Dave Hulings.

Neither team scored in the second half. WMC used its bench extensively, which came in handy after playing an overtime game in the first round of regionals on Wednesday.

“It was great that we could go deep into our bench and get some good play from our reserves,” Hulings said. “These guys wait to play, sometime only a few minutes of the entire game, but give us exactly what we need for that time.

“They work just as hard as the starters, and go in for their moment of the game. That was a big difference maker in this win. We don’t win this game without our bench.”

Warrior goalkeepers Chris Visser (first half) and Michael Merz combined for the shutout. Leland had a 12-8 advantage in shots on goal.

“Leland played a very, very good game,” Hulings said. “They kept pressure on us right to the end. For most of the second half we played not to lose and protect the 1-0 score. I don’t like to play that way, but it worked out.  Now we advance.”

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