By Greg Gielczyk

MANISTEE — Catching an early break in the first 2 minutes of the game, Manistee’s boys soccer team opened a 3-0 lead by halftime and finished with a 4-0 shutout of Ravenna in a West Michigan Conference clash Monday night at Chippewa Field in Manistee.

It was certainly a distinctive contrast between the two teams, with the Chippewas boasting a deep bench, bolstered by the addition of some foreign exchange students, and several veterans sprinkled in the lineup.

Ravenna’s bench was short, however, with only three players on the sidelines. The Bulldogs are still searching to find a goalie.

“The first goal caught us by surprise,” Ravenna head coach Alex Mares said. “They’re a great school. They passed a lot more than what we did. They played better and they deserved to win. I think our key is our midfield a little bit. We’re trying to work on our defensive side, and we’re trying to find a goalie.”

Ravenna’s problems in net were never more apparent than on the Chippewas’ first goal, when the Bulldog goalie mishandled a shot and it went to the feet of Manistee junior Jacob Scharp, who promptly drilled it into the net to give the Chippewas a quick 1-0 lead with 37:43 left in the first half.

Just about 7 minutes later, the Chippewas were back on the board, junior Will Somsel beating a Bulldog defender and laid a good ball across the middle, which senior Ethan Edmondson ran onto it and buried a shot to extend Manistee’s lead to 2-0 with 30:29 on the clock.

Manistee made it 3-0 at the half when junior Luke Smith sent a nice ball across that junior Jack O’Donnell and one-timed it in at the 12:34 mark.

“Those three goals are really things to build on, because it’s really tough to find those guys in space the way they did,” Manistee head coach Brandon Prince said. “We had those opportunities in the second half, and I really wish we could have capitalized on them more, especially this early. But it is early, so we’ve just got to build on it, have them see it, feel it and find it.”

After missing on several chances in the second half, the Chippewas finally cashed in when Scharp found the back of the net with 13:35 remaining in regulation.

Ravenna team captain Kaden Humphreys played a solid game defensively, which is something his coach has come to expect from the junior backliner.

“It’s the first time I’ve ever coached against Ravenna, so a new experience for all of us,” Prince said. “They’re young, they’ve got some players. They’re just putting things together offensively. You could see they found space. But, we’re sitting back there with some guys so it was tough for them. It’s a long day for those guys, and those guys never quit. It was good to see.”

Manistee has now won three straight to improve its record to 3-1 overall, and will be on the road for its next game at North Muskegon in the WMC on Thursday at 5:45 p.m.

Ravenna lost its third straight and dropped to 1-2 on the season and is off now until Sept. 6 when it is on the road again for a non-conference game at Allendale.

Photos courtesy of LSJ photographer Greg Gielczyk