By Aaron McClorey

NORTON SHORES – The Mona Shores girls soccer team kept its great season alive on Wednesday – just barely.

The visiting Grandville Bulldogs gave the Sailors all they could handle for two halves and nearly two overtime periods, and the game almost ended with an unpredictable shootout round.

Mona Shores’ Lauren Hylland shields the ball from a Grandville defender. Photo/Eric Sturr

But Bri Wade allowed Mona Shores to avoid that scenario when she scored with only 10 seconds left in the second and final overtime period, giving the Sailors a heart-pounding 2-1 victory and a berth in Friday’s Division 1 district championship game on their own field.

“We gotta have a serious practice on Thursday to get ready for the championship round, and hopefully we’ll be ready,” said Mona Shores Coach Dylan Darga, whose team is now 16-3-1 on the season.

The game began with the teams trading scoring opportunities. Mona Shores had a breakaway that was saved by Grandville at the 30 minute mark. Grandville finally broke the deadlock with a goal on a penalty kick with 3:20 left in the first half.

Less than a minute later, the Sailors had a chance with a shot that just went wide of the net, and they went to halftime trailing 1-0.

“We were outworked in that first half, and were just thankful that it was the first half that it happened,” Darga said. “We just weren’t finding quality looks, but the girls handled it well.”

Mona Shores finally tied the game at 1-1 when Lydia Sowles scored with 24:33 remaining in regulation.

Nothing went in either goal for the balance of regulation time, and the game went to a mandatory two overtime periods. Despite the challenging situation, where a loss could have ended the season, Mona Shores kept playing the way it has played all season.

Mona Shores’ Kennedy McCombs sends a cross toward the box. Photo/Eric Sturr

“We’ve been doing things our way for so long, we didn’t change a whole lot in terms of the game plan,” Darga said.

The first OT period was quiet for both teams, except for two headers by Mona Shores that were cleared away from the Grandville net by getting cleared away from the net by defenders. In the second OT, the Sailors put tons of pressure on Grandville, with their goaltender making three huge saves down the stretch.

The Sailors hit the goal crossbar with a shot with 8 minutes to go, and again with 43 seconds left, before Wade finally poked in the winning goal.

“We finally broke through, got a good look, and finished it.” Darga said.