While technically each playoff win is what has allowed the Warriors to continue to fight on, it’s hard to imagine the team making it this far without its three-game stretch to close the regular season.
“After we lost to Spring Lake 6-0 and to (Kalamazoo Christian) 6-2, we had a meeting,” said WMC coach David Hulings on Monday, after the Warriors’ practice on the Lakers’ turf field. “I had to say, ‘What do I have to change?’ And each of the girls went to each other and said, ‘This is what I want to change. I want to change this about how I play.’
“The next game was Holland Christian, who was ranked 10 in Division 2, and we all did that one thing. That’s kind of been our theme, is, ‘OK. Can we carry that one thing into the next game.’ … I was doing some poor things coaching, and I corrected that. They corrected theirs, and now we’re playing good. Those 6-0, 6-2 losses were the best thing that happened to us.”
Western Michigan Christian went on to defeat the Maroons in their regular-season finale 1-0, before taking out Fruitport Calvary Christian (9-1), Holland Black River (2-1) and North Muskegon (3-1) on its way to a district title.
The Warriors earned some major revenge at the regional level, defeating Kalamazoo Christian, 1-0, in its regional opener, before eliminating rival Grandville Calvin Christian in a shootout, 2-1.
The Squires had ended the Warriors’ season for four straight years on their way to state championships.
“They’ve had everyone’s number,” Hulings said. “… It was awesome. I don’t know that we ever felt we had a monkey on our back. I think if they had only been beating us, and nobody else, that’s a different thing. They were just the best team in the state. We knew we had to beat them at some point in time, so we just decided to wait until now.
“One of the things we don’t try to do here is get kids up for games emotionally. … We don’t try to get everybody lathered up, it’s just about outworking (our opponent) every time. … I don’t think we’re emotionally drained from that. We were happy to get that over. They’ve just always been in our way, that’s how the draw goes.”
Now, WMC (16-6-3) concentrates on a veteran Montrose squad (17-1-1).
“Their backs are seniors,” Hulings said. “They’ve played in Division 3. This is their first time in Division 4, so they probably have some edge. They’re from a good area of the state — Saginaw-area, Flint-area — where they have good soccer. (They have) some pretty fast players, pretty strong players (and) they have a good record.”
Still the Warriors will be looking from within for the win.
“We don’t really talk about how to slow them down,” Hulings said. “We just want to make sure we play how we play. We’ve got some things that we’ve been working on.
“You kind of put it together where you add these things. If you get farther, you get to add them. If you don’t, you don’t get to add them. We’re adding thing all of the time. If we play how we play, we’re comfortable — win or lose. We just want to do a good job glorifying God, and playing a good, hard game of soccer together as a team. If we do that, we never worry about results.”
The winner of Tuesday’s tussle will see the victor of Lansing Christian-Grosse Pointe Woods on Friday at Michigan State (1 p.m.).
Division 4 soccer semifinal
Who: Western Michigan Christian-Montrose
When: Tonight, 6:30
Where: Comstock Park
Warriors’ record: 16-6-3
Rams’ record: 17-1-1