By Greg Gielczyk

BENZONIA — Since it was a non-conference game, and the postseason playoffs are just around the corner, Manistee girls soccer coach Kathy Smith decided to give her younger, and lesser frequently used, players an opportunity to get some action Friday.

While they didn’t figure big in the scoring, which was handled by the usual contributors, they gained some valuable experience and the Chippewas were still able to extend their recent winning streak with a 4-1 victory at Benzie Central.

Manistee is 4-0-1 in its last five games and hopes to carry that momentum into next week when they have three West Michigan Conference games scheduled, two at home and one on the road in a makeup contest.

The Chippewas appear to be hitting their stride at just the right time as they battle for a shot at the conference title and gear up for the postseason.

But the Huskies gave them all they could want, and then some, in the first half.

The Chippewas got on the board just two minutes into the game on a goal from Kate Somsel after a pass from Alayna Edmondson. But, the Huskies bounced right back with the equalizer.

It remained a 1-1 tie until late in the first half when the Chippewas finally found an opening.

“We were finding a lot of good opportunities and were getting some really good passing combinations finding the seams,” Smith said. “That’s really been our focus, finding those seams and those gaps for our players to run in on. We were really creating a lot of chances, but we just weren’t finishing.”

Again it was Alayna Edmondson setting things up for Somsel to finish. Edmondson took the ball to the end line and cut it back with Somsel in a great spot to finish. It gave Manistee a 2-1 lead at the intermission.

Manistee made a few adjustments defensively in the second half, and the Chippewas shut down the Huskies over the final 40 minutes.

Jayna Edmondson scored on a low shot from Somsel, and then Bailey Gajewski got a loose ball after a corner kick and nailed a left-footed shot to close it out.

“Piper Eskridge (goalkeeper) did a nice job of communicating and I just thought as a whole we were working hard on offense,” said Smith. “I thought we were communicating. That’s been a focal point, and our communication was better. We could hear the girls talking. That’s a big key for us.”

The Chippewas improved to 8-1-1 overall and resume West Michigan Conference action Monday hosting North Muskegon.