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Regional Soccer Preview

Tribune Staff • Oct 23, 2017 at 11:58 PM

The Grand Haven boys soccer team will face another familiar opponent in today's Division 1 regional semifinal match at Portage Northern High School at 5 p.m.

After defeating Mona Shores (5-1), West Ottawa (2-0) and Hudsonville (2-0) to win a district championship, the Buccaneers will face O-K Red Conference champion East Kentwood (17-4) for a chance to advance and play for a regional championship Thursday night.

The Falcons defeated Grand Haven in their two regular-season matches with a narrow 3-2 road win and a dominant 4-0 shutout home win over the Bucs.

East Kentwood has been a powerhouse program in the past decade, capturing five Division 1 state championships in the last 10 years.

For his continued success, head coach John Conlon was named the 2016 National High School Athletic Coaches Association Boys Soccer Coach of the Year this past June. Conlon has coached the Falcons to 13 O-K Red Conference Championships in his 17-year tenure with the program.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

The team is anchored by senior standout goalie Haris Dzafic. The shutdown keeper was named to the Division 1 All-State team last fall, and will more than likely make a repeat appearance on that list in 2017.

Adis Guric is an electric wing player who sets up his teammates with quality scoring chances, while Adrian and Daniel Diaz are twins with completely different skill sets. Adrian is a goal-scoring threat at forward, while Daniel is an athletic defender in the backend of the field.

Lal Eng is a three-year starter who plays all over the field for the Falcons. He is normally an attacking midfielder, but could be moved all over the field depending what the team's gameplan is.

WMC prepares for another tough test

The Western Michigan Christian boys soccer team toppled the top-seeded team in the Division 4 field in their district final victory over Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian, but the road to the finals hardly gets easier through the regional tournament.

In their regional semifinal matchup, the Warriors will face No. 8-ranked Buckley following their 8-0-mercy victory over Walkerville in their district final.

The Bears are on a tear so far, preceding their dominant district final victory with an 8-0 win over Leroy Pine River and a 3-0 win over McBain Northern Michigan Christian. With 11 seniors on the team, Buckley knows it is now or never to capture success. Eight years ago, the Bears finished with an 0-18 record. Their district title this year marked their second straight, and second in program history.

Buckley ran through their regular season with ease, finishing 18-1-3 overall and second behind fellow regional tournament qualifier and No. 2-ranked Leland.

In their two matchups with Leland, the Bears fell in the first, 1-2, before handing the Comets their lone loss of the season in the rematch, 3-0. By comparison, in WMC's only meeting with Leland, the Comets left victorious, 4-2.

Keeper Joey Weber anchors a stingy defense that produced 13 shutouts this year. Weber gave up 12 goals over the course of the season, and just one in their last 10 games.

On the offensive end, senior captain Brock Beeman and younger brother Ridge make a two-pronged, highly coordinated attack, while center backs Denver Cade and Austin Harris are always good for a goal.

Kallen Wildfong leads the team in assists, consistently feeding his scorers with precision.

In their two mercy playoff wins, at least five different Bears found the net, making game planning for Buckley a headache.

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