NEWAYGO — Montague nearly pulled off a soccer upset of undefeated Newaygo Lions in Friday night’s girls districts title game.

It came down to penalty shots to decide the outcome, and it was the Lions who emerged victorious at the end of the marathon session, 3-2 in a shootout.
“We faced a very talented Montague team who had several subs that kept them firing on all cylinders without missing a beat,” said Lions’ coach Matt Painter. “Our girls never gave up, always believing that they deserved to be in this game. As regulation and then each overtime expired, I was praying that all the time we had spent practicing PK’s would pay off.”
Grace Painter scored an unassisted goal to get the Lions started, and that was followed by a goal from Connelly Hefferan off a corner kick by Painter.
But the Wildcats were equal to the task, and forged a 2-2 tie at the end of regulation. Neither team scored over two overtimes, and the Lions tallied three goals in the shootout for the win.
Montague missed three attempts.
Scoring the penalty shots for the Lions were Hefferan, Painter and Sofia Briggs.
“Watching this team grow together to be so successful has been an absolute honor,” Painter said. “I am so proud to have had the chance to share this amazing season with this group of girls.”
The Lions, who improved to 18-0-1, advance to the regional tournament where they will meet Elk Rapids in Clare.
Elk Rapids defeated Boyne City, 2-0 to win its district. The tradition-rich Elks also are undefeated at 19-0-1.
The feature photo is courtesy of Tara Hefferan