After scoring six goals against Sparta in the opening round of the tournament, the Trojans could not find the net against a stalwart Rockets defense.
“They are one of the most organized defenses that we played against all season, in all three games we played against them,” said Fruitport coach Greg Kobylak. “We just don’t matchup well with that defensive strategy, we worked on some things to adjust to that but were unsuccessful.”
The Rockets reached orbit early, but failed to fire stage two. Less than two minutes into the first half, a crafty through-ball and stellar finish put the Rockets up, 1-0.
The remaining 78 minutes of play featured tightly contested back-and-forth soccer. The first half of possession was dominated by Reeths-Puffer, a few quality saves by Connor Werschem kept the Trojans in the game.
Slowly but surly, the Trojans inserted themselves into the offensive side of the field, but could not find any quality looks.
The second half featured an invigorated Trojan effort. Through 35 minutes and plenty of heart stopping chances, they held off the Rockets, holding them to just their early goal.
With five minutes remaining, Fruitport finally found their offensive mojo. The attrition took its toll on Reeths-Puffer, who allowed the Trojans to penetrate the box and create quality looks.
“We were desperate, so we were trying to get the tying goal,” coach Kobylak said of the late-game surge.
Despite controlling the ball for nearly the entire final five minutes of the game the Trojans could not break through Reeths-Puffer All-State honored goalie, Jake Lofgren.
Over 78 minutes after the sole score of the game, the match concluded.
Fruitport finishes their season at 11-9-1 overall. Coach Kobylak embraced his senior players after the loss, commending their efforts.
“I said it’s always an honor and a privilege that they allow me to coach them. We have such a great time in our program with the families and players and everything. I’m sad its over. Mostly, I love them and am proud of them and it was a honor.”
Senior Caleb Yager echoed his coache’s sentiments.
“This (team) means so much to me, everyone around me. They are like family. I’ve known a lot of them since elementary school. It’s sad to see the season come to an end.
“We came to win, we played hard, we gave it our all and we left it all on the field,” added Yager.
Fruitport will graduate ten seniors from this years’ district semifinalist team. Werchem, Yager, Liam Parker, Ean Widmayer, Isaac Firtzgerald, Austin Evans, Adam Klimsza, Jonah Krueger, Mason Belasco and Chandler McLaughlin.
Muskegon Reeths-Puffer advances to the district final against Ludington for the right to play in the regional tournament.