By Greg Gielczyk

NORTH MUSKEGON–Scouting reports are understandably limited at this time of the season, but that doesn’t necessarily concern North Muskegon girls soccer coach Caleb Parnin.

The Norsemen are preparing for Tuesday night’s 7 p.m. MHSAA Division 4 state semifinal against Kalamazoo Christian at Comstock Park.

Right now, all the Norse (16-3-1) are worried about is continuing to play their game and adjust to the Comets’ style once the game starts.

But, there are some things second-year coach Parnin knows about the Comets after getting a chance to see them in person. He knows the Norse will be severely tested in their bid to make a second straight trip to the state finals at Michigan State University.

They’re a great team,” Parnin said. “They’re super fast and aggressive. They possess the ball really well and play a tough schedule. We know they are a very quality opponent and we’re hoping to have a really good soccer game.

I think what we’re going to try to do is just be organized on the defensive front,” he said. “There are a couple players that we want to make sure that we’re aware of and are communicating in the back. They have several players we’re going to be paying attention to.”

Parnin does know the Comets will bring a big attack. Most attacks being with bringing the ball up the sideline and crossing to the goal mouth. That will pose challenges to the Norse outside defenders. 

Silence in this case is anything but golden. Communication is going to be a key for the Norse.

While the Norse turned back Harbor Springs, 3-2, in a shootout in the regional final at Cadillac – their first win over the Rams after three regular-season losses – the Comets upset Lansing Christian in a 1-0 overtime thriller in the regional semifinal.

Comets’ senior forward Madison Ling scored the game-winner just 2 minutes into the 10-minute overtime session, knocking in a low shot just inside the post out of the reach of the Pilgrims’ goalkeeper.  Sophomore goalkeeper Elizabeth Netz made some big saves in preserving the Comets’ seventh consecutive shutout.

Kalamazoo Christian scored less than two minutes into Friday night’s regional final and cruised to a 9-1 blowout win over Our Lady of the Lake Catholic to improve to 18-5.

North Muskegon’s sophomore keeper Emma Lamiman has grown stronger in the last two weeks and finished Thursday’s game with nine saves.

With six starters returning from last year’s state championship team, the Norse expected to be where they are now … on the doorstep of another state final appearance.

The Norse haven’t lost a step, thanks in no small measure to junior forward Natalie Pannucci who contributed 18 goals and 10 assists last year.

Another key has been returning senior center back Grace Vander Woude.

It seems like every game, one of our players surprises other teams and comes out of nowhere,” Parnin said. “You look this week, and we had (sophomore) Izze DeJonge and (sophomore) Emilia Reid score huge goals for us. That was Emilia’s first, and I believe it was Izze’s third goal this year. We have a system in place where we think we can score from a lot of different positions and generate chances.

We have a lot of girls that are wanting to play and put that ball in the net, and we feel we have created a system where they can do that,” Parnin said. “If we’re fast up front, that helps out the midfield. If we’re fast in the back, it helps out the midfield. We expect to win 50-50 balls, balls in the air … that sort of thing. If we don’t, we’re in trouble, and if we do, we’re in a good spot.”