A season in which scoring goals hasn’t been an issue for the Western Michigan Christian girls soccer team came to a sudden end against a team that finally managed to slow down that offensive prowess.
Grandville Calvin Christian, the defending Division 4 state champions, dominated on the defensive end and snuck a pair of goals past WMC keeper Lindsey Johnson for a 2-0 victory.
The win clinched a regional championship for the Squires, who advance to next Wednesday’s state semifinals in East Kentwood.
“What a great team,” a bleary-eyed WMC coach David Hulings said after addressing his team. “We got beat by a really good team. They played the best we’ve seen, and I’ve seen them several times.
“I’m so proud of my girls.”
Hulings said he may have over-coached his team, changing up some things that didn’t seem to work in the opening half.
The Warriors were seriously out-shot in the opening half, but managed to keep the game scoreless until Calvin Christian’s Hilary Curry scored following a corner kick with 15 minutes remaining in the half.
The Squires then scored a back-breaker just 90 seconds into the second half as Sarah Klunder set up Mackenzie Buursma for the goal.
“We knew they had a good team, a team with real dynamic players,” said Calvin Christian coach Tim TerHaar, whose team is now 17-2-4. “Alexys Riksen is a player who scares you every time she touches the ball. We knew we had to create some chances tonight. That was a huge goal (after halftime). We haven’t had a lot of games like this, where we’ve really had to work hard for everything.”
Calvin Christian had allowed just eight goals all season, and recorded 19 shutouts in its 23 games.
The Squires play with three defenders, led by middle back Morgan Buursma. A pair of defensive-minded midfielders — Camie Rietberg and Sarah Klunder — dominated the middle of the field and allowed Calvin Christian to push the rest of its formation forward in the attack.
“They’re attacking with 7-8 players at a time and we’re attacking with three,” Hulings said. “They did a great job marking (Alexys). We got beat by a really good team.”
Both teams could very well be back in this same spot next year. Calvin Christian’s roster features just five seniors, while WMC graduates just three players.
Those three seniors — Julie Merz, Allison Langeland and Courtne Stuk — have been a part of a very successful several years wearing the Warriors’ green and white, and will be tough to replace, Hulings said.
“We lose some great senior leadership that we’ll miss a lot, but we’ll be back,” Hulings said.