By Greg Gielczyk

MANISTEE — Time seemed to be on Oakridge’s side when theĀ Eagles held a one-goal lead with just 50 seconds left in Wednesday’s game at Manistee.

But if the Eagles thought it was over, they were sadly mistaken as the Chippewas managed to score before the last second ticked off and salvaged a 2-2 tie.

It was the West Michigan Conference finale and helped the Chippewas get rid of the sour taste left over from a 4-0 loss to Whitehall in their last game.

“Our passing and possession were so good tonight,” Manistee coach Kathy Smith said. “We’re finding people, and we’re finding people on the run now. We’re making the runs, and we’re connecting.

“Now, we just have to get that finishing piece. Finishing in the final third. We’re going to be focusing on that. But, we’re communicating well, calling balls, letting people know who they have.”

The final scoring play resulted from a corner kick following a run by Emily Rabeler on which Allison Kelley sent the ball high toward the Oakridge goal.

Although the ball careened back out in a crowd, Jayna Edmondson was right on the spot and pounded in the follow up for the final tally.

Manistee took a 1-0 lead about midway through the first half when Rabeler charged down the middle and got off a booming shot that eluded the Eagle keeper.

Oakridge was able to answer, however, with four minutes left and sent the game into halftime knotted at 1-1.

Shortly into the second half Oakridge scored again and grabbed a 2-1 lead, holding it for the rest of the game until under a minute remained.

“We left a few out there tonight,” said Smith. “We have to work a little more on taking shots when we have them, and hunting for those rebounds. Also finishing crosses. We had some balls that came across, and we just have to get on those. Our defensive line is doing a great job of stepping up when they need to step up and win a 50-50 ball.

“Piper (Eskridge, goalkeeper), too. She’s talking, she’s coming out, she’s cutting down angles. So she’s doing everything she needs to do, too.”

Manistee finished the regular season at 9-4-2 record, including 1-3 over the last four games. The Chippewas open tournament play at home next Friday against Hart.

Oakridge moved to 5-10-3 and hosts Shelby in its final regular-season game Friday.

Photos by Greg Gielczyk