The Warriors bounced back from that rough stretch much more focused and determined, and are have carried that momentum into the Division 4 district tournament, starting with Monday’s 3-0 win over North Muskegon.
“We were looking past our opponents, looking toward tougher games, especially Unity Christian,” said senior captain Mitchell Landheer. “We lost a few of those games, but the last 5-6 games we’ve been going strong, working hard.”
The Warriors’ hard work was on display against the Norsemen. WMC dominated the first half of play, but had only one goal to show for it.
WMC came out determined to add to that lead early in the second half, and appeared to have done so just 47 seconds into the half when Chase Schuiteman’s header found the back of the net.
The goal was waved off due to an offside call, but moments later, Schuiteman struck again as he again fought his way free of the North Muskegon defense, elevated and drilled a header from the left side that snuck past Norsemen goalie Jesse Dunn and into the goal for a 2-0 lead.
“Those guys are the defending state champs,” said North Muskegon coach Jeremy Tjapkes, whose team ends its season at 11-9-2. “Our goal was to keep it close and have a chance at the end. That second goal really deflated us.”
The Warriors added to their lead on another header goal with 17:31 remaining as Alec Briet sent a free kick into the Norsemen penalty area. WMC’s Tim Schuitema was waiting at the back post, and his header sailed into the back of the net for a commanding 3-0 advantage.
“I know we were a little timid at the end of the season, especially against Muskegon Catholic,” Landheer said. “But Coach (David Hulings) kept telling us that we can’t just work 40 minutes. We have to work the full 80 minutes. Whenever we don’t play hard for 80 minutes, there’s a team that can beat us.
“We did a good job tonight. We kept on scoring late in the game. (Schuiteman’s goal) was big. That put momentum on our side.”
WMC’s defense and goalie Jacob Berens didn’t receive much of a workout on Monday as the Warriors’ midfield dominated play and kept the ball on the Warriors’ offensive end of the field for most of the game. WMC held a 17-5 advantage in shots.
The Warriors move on to Wednesday’s district semifinal round, where they’ll meet Kent City Algoma Christian.