By Andrew Johnson

CLARE – Three was a magic number for the Ludington soccer team on Saturday.

It was the third time the Orioles met Lakes 8 Conference rival Orchard View this season, and the first time they won.

The Orioles’ Will Flewelling scored the first three-goal hat trick of his varsity career.

And now Ludington is a Division 3 state semifinalist, for the second year in a row.

The Orioles, now 19-4-2 on the year, continued their postseason magic with a 5-1 victory over Orchard View in a regional final contest in Clare.

Noah Peterson battles against Orchard View’s Isaiah Villareal. Photo/Cindy Hill

They now advance to the state semifinals at Cedar Springs High School on Wednesday at 6 p.m. They will play either Hudsonville Unity Christian or Paw Paw. The winner of that game will advance to next Saturday’s state championship game.

Last year, Ludington defeated Grand Rapids South Christian in the state semifinals before losing to Flint Powers Catholic in the finals.

“It’s huge,” said Ludington head coach Kris Anderson about the back-to-back semifinal appearances. “It’s the first time in program history, and we have quite the history. For these boys to make history is quite an accomplishment.”

The game was tight for one half.

Flewelling started his strong day early when he tucked a goal into the right corner of the net with 23:39 left in the first half, giving Ludington a 1-0 lead.

Orchard View responded less than a minute later with a free kick goal from Roger McKenzie to tie the game at 1-1.

The final goal of the first half also came off the foot of Flewelling, who scored with 2:03 remaining to give Ludington a 2-1 halftime edge.

Flewelling found the goal again just 55 seconds into the second half, finishing off his hat track and giving Ludington a 3-1 lead.

“I haven’t had a hat trick in high school,” said Flewelling about his special day. “I had one in select soccer, but not high school, so it was a good feeling today. It was pretty special. It’s what you live for.”

The lead was extended to 4-1 when Nick Patterson scored on a header.

The final goal came off a penalty kick with 10:32 remaining, when Ludington’s Jared Ruba ripped a shot to the left side of the net.

For Orchard View, the disappointing loss ended an otherwise great season. And the future looks very promising for the Cardinals.

“I’m super proud of this team,” said OV coach Kyle Skodack, whose team finished with a 17-5-1 record. “We came into this season not knowing what we were going to be. Next year we return eight starters and the future is bright with a strong junior varsity team, too. This experience will help us mature and grow for bigger games.”