By Aaron Poling

NORTON SHORES – There’s something about conference tournaments that bring out the best in the Mona Shores girls soccer team – regardless of what conference the Sailors are in.

Headed into Tuesday night’s O-K Green Conference Tournament championship game, the Sailors had won three straight tournament titles, all in the old O-K Black.

Sailor Maya Cooper battles Zeeland West’s Joy Miller for possession. Photo/Eric Sturr

This season they switched to the O-K Green, which has a few different teams, but the results were the same.

Mona Shores downed Zeeland East 4-1 on Tuesday, claiming their fourth straight tournament title and clinching their fourth straight outright conference championship.

The Sailors beat Muskegon 9-0 and Zeeland West 2-1 last week in the quarterfinal and semifinal round, respectively.

“They’re a fun group of kids to coach,” said Mona Shores Coach Dylan Darga about his team. “They really enjoy being here. Sometimes when you’re around a group too often you start to get sick of them, but there is none of that with this group.”

“We are all friends,” added Mona Shores junior Lydia Sowles. “There are no cliques on the team. We all connect really well.”

Even with the conference title in hand, the Sailors know their work isn’t done this season. They plan to keep playing well so they can accomplish their next goal – winning a district championship next week.

“We have to take it day-by-day,” Darga said. “We will enjoy the moment tonight. I hope all of the girls enjoy it, but going forward we need to make sure we bring the same intensity to training tomorrow.”

Sailor defender Lauren Hylland forces Zeeland West wide. Photo/Eric Sturr

“We have to keep playing how we are,” added Mona Shores senior Bri Wade. “If we keep playing from the back to the top, we can be successful.” 

Sowles opened the scoring for the Sailors with 9:07 left in the first half on a strange play. She fired a pass that was intended for Wade, who was offside. Wade stopped and let the ball roll by her. When Wade stopped, so did the Zeeland East defense. Sowles caught up to her own pass and snuck the ball past the keeper to put the Sailors up 1-0.

Shay Norden doubled the Sailor lead with 14 seconds left in the first half. Wade headed a ball into space, then Norden beat everyone to it and buried the shot on a breakaway.

The Sailors led 2-0 at halftime. 

With 25:47 left in the game, Wade let a shot go that fluttered over the outstretched arms of the Zeeland East keeper into the top left corner of the goal. The Sailors led 3-0. 

Zeeland East Senior Haley Diekevers ended the shutout by scoring with 15:14 left in the game.

Mona Shores’ Ali Trautner tacked on a goal with 2:13 remaining. Teammate Mia Brown fired a shot off the post and the ball bounced to Trautner, who buried it.

Ella Buikema made five saves in goal for Mona Shores. The Sailors outshot Zeeland East 10-6.