“We were pretty disappointed,” said Grand Haven coach Aaron Dean, whose team falls to 10-1-3 on the season and 6-1 in league play. “The guys were pretty pumped up, not only for the regular-season conference title, but also because East Kentwood has had our numbers the last couple years.”
The Bucs fell behind 1-0, but rallied to tie the score at 1-1 late in the first half on a penalty kick. Jake Vanderlaan set up Nate Rose on an excellent scoring chance, and Rose was fouled inside the penalty box. Vanderlaan converted on the PK to tie the game at 1-1.
In the second half, Grand Haven claimed a 2-1 lead when defender Matt Davis sent a long ball into the mix that fooled Kentwood’s goalie and slipped into the net.
East Kentwood dialed up the pressure as the game went on, and the Bucs lost their cool, according to Dean.
“It stayed 2-1 until the last 10 minutes,” Dean said. “East Kentwood is a great team, and they kept amping up the pressure, and we made a couple mistakes. We had a couple players get carded, and those are the kind of moments where we need to keep our emotions in check. It doesn’t help us when players are forced to sit out for 10 minutes.”
Bucs’ goalie Ethan Beswick made several strong saves in goal, but the Falcons eventually scored with about seven minutes remaining, then added the game-winner with five minutes to play.
“We had a couple looks after that, but weren’t able to tie it,” Dean said. “At this point, we haven’t had a lot of tight games at the end, so there are some things we need to work on that came out of this game that we’ll address at practice.”
The Bucs settle for the second seed in the O-K Red Conference tournament, which begins on Thursday.
To see photos from the game, click here.