By Ron Rop
The Warriors were relentless on offense and air-tight on defense and defeated North Muskegon, 6-1, on a foggy night at Warrior Field. The result puts WM Christian in Tuesday’s regional semifinal at Holland High School. The Warriors will take on the winner of Friday night’s game between Bangor and Marcellus Howardsville Christian.
“That was a fun game,” Warrior coach Ben Buursma said. “North Muskegon really came to play the first 20 minutes and put us under pressure and it took us a while to learn how to deal with it. I was happy our boys figured it out with about 20 minutes left in the half.”
The Warriors scored a goal, then another and then a third one before the opening half ended.
Senior captain Charlie Buursma opened the scoring after a scramble in front of the Norsemen net. Ben Moorhead drew the assist.
There were a couple more close chances for WMC and it was rewarded again when a loose ball in front of the North Muskegon net was pushed in by Lucas Dick.
With 6:45 remaining in the half, the Warriors sent a ball toward the goal mouth that was deflected in by a North Muskegon defender. Dick also was credited with that goal.
“You can’t give up goals like that against the No. 1 team in the state and expect to recover quickly,” North Muskegon coach Jeremy Tjapkes said.
The Warriors (17-2-3) led 3-0 at the half.
Western Michigan Christian turned up the heat in the opening minutes of the second and nearly popped in several more goals.
The Warriors increased their lead to 4-0 with 8 minutes gone in the second half when senior Ben Pollock took a throw-in and darted toward the net. His low shot eluded North Muskegon goalkeeper Case Zizak.
Junior Ryan Riksen made it 5-0 with assistance from Tekalegn Vlasma with 25:06 remaining.
Cole DeJonge took a free kick from 20 yards out with 11:55 left and found Vlasma, who redirected the ball into the net.
North Muskegon snapped the shutout bid by WMC goalkeeper Daniel Minasian with 5:42 left in the game.
“Other than that one at the end, I thought we had a very good defensive performance,” Buursma said. “They have some fast, physical players and I think we dealt with that very well tonight.”
“We gave them heck for the first 10-15 minutes and we had some missed opportunities,” said Tjapkes. “We kind of got a little frazzled. Our object was to come out and just capitalize on our opportunities and put them on defense. I think we got a bit impatient after that and once we did that, we started to lose our focus of what we wanted to do.
“Hats off to them, they are the defending state champs with a lot of returning players. They played it, they deserved it and they should make a good run.”
North Muskegon finished the season 9-10-4.