BIG RAPIDS — The North Muskegon Norse are heading to the Division 4 state semifinals in girls soccer after a dramatic 1-0 victory over Harbor Springs on Friday night.

The Norse captured the Division 4 regional title thanks to some stellar defense, goaltending and a goal near the midpoint of the opening half by Kennedi Koekkoek.

On Wednesday at 6 p.m., the No. 2-ranked Norse take on No. 7-ranked Kalamazoo Christian in Cedar Springs. Kalamazoo Christian defeated St. Joseph Our Lady of the Lake, 7-0, in their regional final on Friday. The other semifinal teams include top ranked Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett and unranked Clarkston Everest.

For North Muskegon, it’s looking for a little payback after Kalamazoo Christian defeated North Muskegon 1-0 in last year’s semifinal game.

North Muskegon is hoping to get back to its glory days from 2 years ago when they captured the state title with a 5-0 victory over Royal Oak Shrine. One more victory would put the Norse into the championship game. 

In Friday’s game, both teams came out with the intensity you would expect in a game of such importance, said NM coach Caleb Parnin.”I thought we were doing a good job of attacking and building, but for whatever reason, it just wasn’t quite going in for us.”

But then, Koekkoek broke the ice with a goal that was assisted by Katie Kinahan.

“Kennedi plays on the left side, attacking, and she’s a kid we want to make sure we’re utilizing,” Parnin said. “She is a special player and she did her job. She looked good tonight.”

There were some close calls throughout the game, but neither team could score.

Emma Lamiman stood tall in the North Muskegon goal. She stopped two breakaways in the game. Near the end of the game, Harbor Springs was awarded a penalty kick, which sailed wide of the goal.

“The back line … we could not have done it without them,” Parnin said. “We went down a player and they played even better. We hung in there and survived and that was amazing.”

North Muskegon will take its 17-3-1 record into Wednesday’s game.

Photos courtesy of photographer David Reid