By Greg Gielczyk
BRETHREN — Pete Peterson was under no illusions as he prepared to direct his Shelby Tigers in Thursday night’s Division 4 district championship game in Brethren.
The Tigers’ coach knew full well that the odds were in McBain Northern Michigan Christian’s favor. Afterall, the Comets were the top seed in the district, and had the better record.
Still, Peterson felt confident the Tigers possessed the talent and skill to win just as much as the Comets did. The Tigers fell short of their goal with a 3-1 loss and saw their season come to an end.
It is the Comets’ third straight district title.
“I think they’ve lost only three times, and all three losses were to bigger division schools,” Peterson said. “I knew we were going to be up against it. They played real physical against our top scorer early. Once we fixed that and got her going again she was fine. They’re a good team, (but) we stood toe-to-toe with them.”
NMC, which improved its record to 16-3 and moves on to next week’s regional tournament, reached the finals with a lopsided 8-1 victory over Big Rapids Crossroads on Tuesday.
With the temperature soaring to 90 degrees and, an unrelenting sun making playing conditions almost intolerable, both coaches substituted liberally to give everyone a break to hydrate and cool down with cold towels.
Shelby found itself trailing 2-0 at the half. The Comets struck for the first goal just under six minutes into the game and Peterson said it was created when the Tigers failed to make the proper switch on defense.
The second goal was the result of the Tigers simply failing to stop a Comets player who was racing down the middle of the field. That ended with a shot into the back of the net at the 29:46 mark.
Alyse Erickson, a sophomore, scored the Tigers only goal a little over nine minutes into the second half. But that was it.
“I wasn’t expecting that,” said Peterson. “Alyse’s had six or seven this year. That one was exceptional. She’s capable. I have three or four girls who are capable of that same shot, she just happened to score it.”
NMC finished it off with a free kick into the upper corner of the net.
The Tigers finished the season with an 11-10-1 record.