By Ron Rop
It was more than a battle between two highly-ranked Division 4 soccer teams in the state of Michigan.
Friday’s non-league game between the No. 3-ranked Leland Comets and the No. 5-ranked Western Michigan Christian Warriors also was a fundraiser for the “Kim Larson-Hunt Fund.” Kim Larson-Hunt is the mother of WMC defender Chance Larson. She is battling Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma.
“Coming into the season, the seniors wanted to do something as leaders of this team for someone or for some cause,” WMC midfielder and team captain Will Deur said. “Chance Larson is on our team, and it’s his mom we are supporting.
The goal heading into the evening was to raise $3,000, but following the game, in an emotional ceremony, the Warrior players presented Larson-Hunt with a check for $3,380.50.
In the game, the host Warriors, wearing their special lime green jerseys, defeated the Comets 3-0 at Warrior Field. The highly experienced Comets (15-4) came out strong in the opening half and dominated in the offensive end, but could not score.
That all changed in the second half, but it was the advantageous Warriors who were able to get on the board, not the Comets.
In the span of just 8 minutes, the Warriors turned the scoreless battle into a 3-0 lead and eventually the key non-league victory.
It started just 2:46 into the half when Comet goalkeeper Ricardo Roman emerged from the net to corral a bouncing ball. He appeared to approach the ball a bit passively and that allowed WMC forward Dylan Mines to get the first touch on the ball.
There was contact between Mines and Roman, but Mines still chased down the loose ball and punched it into the vacated net.
“We got fortunate on that first goal, it was a judgement call and it could have gone either way,” WMC coach David Hulings said. “That seemed to lift us up and defeat them.”
Just 5 minutes later, the Comet defense failed to clear a ball from about 20 yards out in front of their own net. Warrior sophomore Tommy TenCate corralled the loose ball and fired a shot with his left foot into the net.
The score reached 3-0 slightly more than 2 minutes later when Mines fired a shot that was saved by Roman. The rebound slid to TenCate, who fired a shot into the open side of the net.
Warrior goalkeepers Chris Visser and Michael Merz combined on the shutout for the Warriors (10-5-1).