Bucs' soccer making the most of 2nd chances

Matt DeYoung • Jul 21, 2015 at 11:34 AM

Oh, most of the same girls are out there, but that's about the only thing that's similar.

The Buccaneers, after a regular-season to forget, are hoping to make a postseason run to remember.

After a pair of impressive wins in the O-K Red tournament, Grand Haven continued its hot late-season play with a 4-1 win over Jenison on Tuesday in the opening round of the Division 1 district tournament.

For more pictures from Tuesday's game, click here.

The Buccaneers travel to Grandville tonight to take on West Ottawa in the district semifinals. Game time is 5:30 p.m.

Grand Haven sophomore Claire Borchers points to a humiliating 8-2 loss at the hands of Rockford as the point where the Bucs' season finally turned around.

"That was the low point, when we lost to Rockford," said Borchers, one of four Grand Haven players to score against Jenison on Tuesday. "We had a lot of young potential on this team, but we got a little overconfident and we weren't playing well."

"Conference didn't go the way we wanted to, and we've really come back strong after that 8-2 loss to Rockford," added senior Lydia Weykamp.

"We've finally started playing to our potential," Borchers said.

That's put a smile on the face of coach Cor Damhuis, who isn't used to having his teams finish in the bottom half of the league standings.

"The girls are more believing in each other, trusting each other,"

Damhuis said. "They're trusting that somebody else can do what they're supposed to do. It took them a while to realize that."

Damhuis agrees that the 8-2 loss to the Rams earlier in the season gave his team a big-time wake-up call.

"Every game since that, they've picked their heads up, and they've been improving," he said.

It's not like the wins came fast and furious after that point. The Bucs still lost six of their next nine games, but the level of play was much improved, and Damhuis could see positives along the way.

"Even though we lost some of those games, we played much better," Damhuis said.

Against Jenison on Tuesday, the Buccaneers fell behind 1-0, but quickly bounced back with goals by Courtney Springer and Borchers to lead 2-1 midway through the first half.

The Bucs had a pair of fantastic chances to go up 3-1 before halftime, but Weykamp's shot from point blank range elevated quickly and sailed over the crossbar, and Taylor DeWitt's volley off a great crossing pass also sailed just high.

Grand Haven dominated the second half, but couldn't put away the visiting Wildcats until late, when Alex Prout sent a perfect pass to a sprinting Brooke Spruit. Spruit's shot from the right side slammed into the back of the net for a 3-1 lead and took all the wind out of the Wildcats' sails.

Several minutes later, the Bucs made it 4-1 when Prout rocketed a low shot toward the corner that went through the hands of Jenison's goalie.

"Having that 2-1 lead for so long was scary," Weykamp said. "If they score next and make it 2-2, then they have all the momentum."

Damhuis liked how his defenders played in the second half as they quickly shut down any Jenison attack. Sweeper Megan Olle was solid as a last line of defense while Roxy Glasser did a nice job of battling against Jenison's top forward, Lindsay Furness.

Goalie Faith Platz made four saves for the Bucs before giving way to junior varsity call-up Veronica Booth, who did not face a shot.

Grand Haven's midfield won the battle of 50-50 balls and kept most of the action in the Buccaneers' offensive half.

Looking forward, Grand Haven faces a West Ottawa team that the Bucs have beaten already twice this spring.

Damhuis knows that his team is capable of making it three in a row over the Panthers, but the Bucs need to keep improving.

"I'm happy with the passing, but there is still a lot of improvement that can be made," Damhuis said. "It's a team effort,a nd that's key. It's fun the way the girls are playing righter now. If they can continue to be available for each other and pass the way we can, well, then we'll be OK."

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