“Wins and losses, we try to appreciate, but you’ve just got to work hard everyday,” Greer said. “The idea is, when you’re working harder than everyone else in practice, winning is not a goal, it’s a result. And we really bring it in practice.”
The results have been favorable for Greer’s squad 13 out of 14 times this season, including Thursday evening’s league tournament semifinal victory against Grand Rapids Christian — an 11-9 Buccaneers’ victory.
With the win, Grand Haven sets up a rematch with rival Holland Christian in the league title game on Tuesday at Buccaneer Stadium. The Bucs beat the Maroons 13-12 back on April 17, thanks to a game-winning goal from Trevor McNamara in overtime.
For more photos from Thursday's game, click here.
McNamara fired in three more goals against Grand Rapids Christian (12-5 overall) on Thursday, but also had a lot of help around him.
After starting slow and trailing 5-3 at the end of the first period, Grand Haven’s balanced offensive attack helped the Bucs rally to tie the contest at 5-5 at the half, then continued to put pressure on the Eagles with excellent passing and precision shooting in the second half.
“(Grand Rapids Christian) came out jacked up and ready to play,” Greer said. “But we answered tonight.
“Once we settled our offense and listened to the kids on the sideline, we were excellent,” he added. “We were patient on offense; we didn’t force too many. And we got our looks. We got our dodges, our slides, and it resulted in some very quality shots. We shot very well tonight.”
Senior Cole Curtiss was one Buccaneer who was in the groove offensively, as he tied for the team lead with three goals.
“Our passing was great tonight,” he said. “It means a lot to have a chance to play for a conference title. We haven’t had a chance to do that in recent years.”
Grand Haven cut into its 5-3 first-period deficit quickly, as sophomore Ian Dickerson scored with 11:06 on the clock in the second. Both teams then went on a scoring drought for nearly 10 minutes, until Dickerson set up teammate Jared VanOordt with a strong pass in front of the net. VanOordt did the rest, scoring with 49 seconds left to tie the contest.
The Eagles scored to open the second half, but Grand Haven answered with three unanswered goals by McNamara, Jake Vieau and Curtiss to gain control of the contest.
Defensively, the Bucs had the edge in intensity and aggression. Matt Burns had a crushing cross check in the second period that sent an Eagles’ player flying out of bounds, and Grand Haven maintained its physical play in the second half. As a result, Grand Rapids Christian went scoreless for the final three minutes of the third period and nearly six more minutes in the fourth.
By then, the Bucs had built an 11-7 lead.
“(Grand Rapids Christian’s) low attack men, our defense did an amazing job by taking them out of the game,” Greer said. “Their No. 7 (DJ VanderBaan) he’s a very good player, but Matt Mulcahy limited him to almost nothing for the second time this season. Our defense played incredibly well.”
Greer also highlighted the strong defensive play of Brody Smith and Hunter Mulliken.
The Eagles tried to mount a late rally thanks to back-to-back goals from Ryan Betts with under six minutes to play, but Grand Haven prevented any further damage. Betts led the Eagles with five goals.
Burns, who was celebrating his 18th birthday, had two goals and two assists for the Bucs.
Greer expects an intense battle for the conference title on Tuesday.
“I’m very close to that program,” he said. “I live in Holland and I’m involved with a lot of those kids. I’ve coached several of them (in the summer). There’s going to be a lot emotion and it’s going to be a lot of fun.”