Bulldogs take a bite out of Bucs

Matt DeYoung • Jul 21, 2015 at 10:57 AM

Grand Haven played without Weykamp and starting midfielder Belle Vanderlaan, a sophomore, both of whom missed the game with ankle injuries. The Bucs were also without senior defender Stephanie Tabor, who has missed the past several games with a knee injury.

“The injuries we had toward the end definitely played a toll, but we can’t use that as an excuse,” Damhuis said. “We had players who took their places who performed admirably.”

With his team shorthanded, Damhuis turned to several players who guided the Bucs’ junior varsity team to a dominating 15-2 record this spring. At one point, seven Buccaneer freshmen were on the field at the same time. That included goalie Faith Platz, who has been a varsity starter for most of the season, but several others — including Claire Borchers, Taylor DeWitt, Emily Sexton, Mallory Beswick, Lanie Kenny and Roxy Glasser — were relatively new additions to the roster.

“It’s exciting for the future, the next couple years,” Damhuis said. “If you count our goalie, we had seven freshmen out there at one time, along with a couple sophomores and juniors. We have (eight) seniors. Two of them were hurt, but the others were out there quite a bit.

“Being able to mix in some talented freshmen who really deserved to have a chance to show what they could do after a very successful junior varsity season to our existing roster was exciting.”

Seniors Amy Potter, Brittany Labell, Alex Concannon, Karissa Winkler, Katie VanZytveld, Lindsey Burnside and Sarah Kober showed plenty of heart in helping their team battle against a Grandville squad that had defeated the Bucs 4-0 earlier in the season.

“I was proud of our team. We came out a lot better than last time,” Labell said. “Every player we brought up had a lot of heart. We bonded as a team, but I feel bad for the girls who didn’t get to play.”

Grandville, which finished second in the O-K Red this spring, also boasts a young lineup made up exclusively of sophomores and juniors.

“They’re a strong team. They definitely came out to play,” Labell said.

The Bulldogs dominated play for much of the first half, although Grand Haven picked up its game and played very well the final 10-plus minutes of the half and kept the contest scoreless going into halftime.

Grandville grabbed a 1-0 lead 13 minutes into the second half when a shot went over the outstretched fingers of Platz and just crossed the goal line before a Grand Haven defender streaked in and knocked the ball back out of the goal.

Six minutes later, the Bulldogs made it a 2-0 game when Olivia Emery fought off a defender and fired a shot past Platz.

Grand Haven’s best chance to get on the scoreboard came with 11 minutes remaining in the game when Grandville was called for a foul just outside its penalty box. The Bucs fired a shot that sailed just wide of its mark.

The Bucs wrap up an unsatisfying season that saw them win several big games but also suffer several disappointing losses.

“It was hard. We had some tough losses, quite a few close games,” Labell said. “But we’re not a team that gives up. We stayed strong. We were confident coming into this game.”

Damhuis said his team had no reason to hang its head after a strong showing on Wednesday.

“It was 4-0 there and we were on our heels the whole game,” the longtime Bucs’ coach said. “Today we gave them a run for their money. We gave a good showing, a better showing that a lot of our games.”

Damhuis was particularly stung that Weykamp couldn’t get onto the field for her final game as a Buccaneer.

“Her ankle kept her out. As of yesterday, it was still quite swollen,” he said. “Our trainer did everything he could. It was just not worth taking a risk of further injury. These girls’ bodies are more important than one game. They have to last them a lifetime. A lot of times in competitiveness and eagerness to win, we forget that.

“But it hurts. Aliina is just a step above everybody in this area. I just admire her so much. She’s so coachable, she listens to everything I tell her, and she encourages her teammates.”

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