By Greg Gielczyk
MANISTEE — While the defense continued to stand tall, limiting the Suttons Bay Norsemen to very few good looks at the goal, Manistee’s offense finally broke through in the second half to notch a 3-0 shutout Friday night.
The non-conference game was played at Chippewa Field in Manistee and evened the Chippewas’ record to 1-1 on the young season.
Despite knocking on the door several times in the first half, the Chippewas went scoreless over the first 40 minutes. But the defense held Suttons Bay off the board as well, and went into the intermission with a 0-0 tie.
“We controlled, I feel, both sides of the field that first half,” said Manistee head coach Brandon Prince. “Defensively I think we stuck to the game plan.
“Offensively, we just kept knocking on the door. As we kept doing that, it’s just trying to get that goal in. We left on the table in the first half.
“But, it was just let’s make a couple adjustments, a couple switches, maybe an extra pass here or there and create maybe a higher percentage opportunity. It opened up in the second half for us.”
Jack O’Donnell finally broke the scoreless tie a few minutes into the second half, scoring on a set piece.
Ben Schlaff chested the ball across the goal mouth, and O’Donnell was there for the shot, which just eluded the Norse goalie and gave Manistee a 1-0 lead.
O’Donnell punched in the second goal as well. Will Somsel made an extra pass to him. O’Donnell made the second one count, burying a shot far post to send the Chippewas out to a 2-0 lead.
Manistee’s third and final goal came near the end of the game. Luke Senters saw Jacob Scharp racing up the middle of the pitch and sent a through ball that Scharp finished one-on-one against the keeper.
“We have a strong junior group,” Prince said. “Last year they found their identity, and this year I think they’re establishing it. But also the versatility in them.
“Gosh, I enjoy making those slight tactical changes with three or four of them to give different looks, to give a play on the ball from different angles.
“But they kind of move through really well to create chances early. Even that Traverse City game the chances were there. We even knew today holding strong to that defensive shape, let’s capitalize a little bit stronger in the transition. They did that today.”
Manistee next plays at Big Rapids in a rematch of last year’s district final on Tuesday.