The goal gave the Chiefs a 1-0 victory, denying the Buccaneers their first-ever soccer state title and dealing a devastating blow to a Grand Haven team making its deepest run into the state tournament.
“Right now, the kids are going to be heartbroken,” said Grand Haven coach Aaron Dean, whose team finished with an 18-2-3 mark. “They’ve put a lot of time and energy into this, from when they started as little kids, and to get to this point ... In a while, we’ll be able to talk to them, and they’ll be excited what they accomplished. But it’ll hurt for a little bit.”
To see photos from the game, click here.
The Buccaneers played toe-to-toe with the Chiefs (24-1-2). Actually, Grand Haven dominated the game — for the first 40 minutes. A steady wind blowing out of the south at Kentwood’s Pat Paterson Field was a huge boost to the Bucs, helping them keep possession in their offensive end of the field for most of those opening 40 minutes.
Canton countered by playing most of its players back on defense, including its outstanding senior Connor Furgason. The Western Michigan University-bound Furgason helped the Chiefs withstand the Buccaneers’ onslaught.
The tables turned after halftime as Canton played with the wind at its back and Grand Haven struggled to get the ball out if its defensive half. The Bucs tried to play long balls to forward Nate Rose, but he was unable to get much going against a big, physical Canton defense.
“They’re really good, really big, and me, I’m small, so it makes it really difficult,” the Bus’ senior said. “I give them a lot of credit. They were really good. They had a solid defense.
“The wind definitely helped us (in the first half) because we were, maybe not dominating but at least getting more chances than we did in the second half.”
“The game was back and forth,” Bennick added. “I don’t know if it was the wind, the sun, but it seemed like the first half, we dominated the game. We had more chances. The second half, they had more chances. They put one in the back of the net, and we didn’t. We just couldn’t find the back of the net, and if you can’t do that, you can’t win.”
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