The third time was almost the charm for the Great Lakes Beach Soccer team.
The squad, competing for the third straight year at the Major Beach Soccer Championship in December, lost in the championship to La U, 1-0.
The La U goal came in the second period after a miscommunication between some of the Great Lakes players.
"We lost a pretty hard fought game, 1-0," said Rob Saurbaugh, a 2000 Grand Haven High School graduate. "We were in it the whole time. We probably should have finished it, but we came up short."
Still, it was the highest finish ever for the squad, which also includes Grand Haven graduates Kevin Hardy (class of 2000), Mike Vollmer (2001), Reeths-Puffer graduates Matt (2006), Nate (2008) and Maik Schmitt (2010), WMC grad Phil VanRees (2003) and Nick Capisciolto of Calvin College.
"We've been doing this now for a handful years," Saurbaugh said. "We stepped it up to a whole nother level this year."
Saurbaugh said the group, which qualified for the national event by finishing in second at both the Grand Haven and Cleveland Soccer in the Sand tournaments, had developed a better understanding of how to keep the ball moving through the air, a preferable method to dribbling through sand.
"You go in trying to play fast at first, you just want to be everywhere," Saurbaugh said. "But realistically you want to slow it down with the ball and use your personal skills. … A lot of people try to run down the field dribbling — that doesn't work very well."
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