The win helped the No. 6-ranked Bucs (14-1-3) clinch a share of the league title with the No. 2-ranked Falcons (15-2-1). East Kentwood was the regular-season league champ.
“It’s unbelievable,” said Beswick, a smile lighting up his face. “I’ve been waiting four years for this, and to have this happen my senior year is just awesome.”
The Buccaneers suffered a heartbreaking 3-2 loss to East Kentwood earlier this fall in a game they led heading into the closing 10 minutes, and looked to be on the verge of suffering another gut-wrenching setback on Wednesday. After playing to a 1-1 tie in regulation, the game went into two 10-minute overtimes. The Falcons scored early in the first extra period when Charles Constantino slid a shot under a charging Beswick.
That lead up until the final 90 seconds of the second extra session, when Grand Haven senior Andrew Wadaga knocked a shot off the goal post and into the net, tying the game at 2-all and forcing a penalty kick shootout.
“We had a corner kick and the goalie came out and hit it down,” Wadaga said. “It bounced right down onto my foot and I shot it. I hit it with my right foot and it was curving, and it kissed the post and went in. It was just unbelievable.”
That pushed the game into a shootout, where each team has five shots at the opposing goalie.
Beswick watched helplessly as East Kentwood’s Carson Hotaling sank his team’s opening penalty kick. The Bucs’ goalie got a chance for revenge moments later as he was Grand Haven’s first shooter. He ripped a shot into the upper-right corner of the net, tying the shootout at 1-1.
Beswick then stopped consecutive shots by East Kentwood’s Hunter Barone, Andre Morris and Erick Pizano, sending his teammates into a frenzy on the sidelines. Meanwhile, Grand Haven’s Garrit Schaap and Nate Rose converted on their kicks, with Rose’s effort wrapping up the win for the Bucs.
“Ethan’s a fantastic goalie,” said Grand Haven coach Aaron Dean, whose team also shared the O-K Red title with East Kentwood in 2009. “The amount of work he has put in is phenomenal. We have a ton of confidence in him as our goalie.
“But when we listed our shooters, he said, ‘No, I want to shoot.’ He looked me in they eye and said he wanted it. At that point, I’m looking for the kids with the most confidence to take the shots. My only concern is that if he misses, it hurts his confidence in goal the rest of the way.”
Beswick didn’t miss, even though taking penalty kicks in a pressure-filled situation is entirely new to him.
“This is the first PK I’ve ever taken in a game situation,” he said.
He used all the experience he’s gained in several years guarding the Bucs’ goal, as well as a little advice from his teammates, to make the three shootout saves.
“I’m trying to read their hops as much as possible, but it really comes down to reaction,” he said. “You’ve got to make up your mind. A couple of those guys, I talked to my teammates who had played with them on other teams and they told me their tendencies, where they like to go.”
Falcons’ coach John Conlon has had the edge over the Bucs and his friend, Dean, over the past several years. He felt it was only a matter of time before Grand Haven came out on top in one of the heated battles between the two powerhouse programs.
“This is probably the right ending,” Conlon said. “Grand Haven is fantastic. Beswick, (Jacob) Vanderlaan and Rose have been grinders for four years, and Ethan stole the show tonight. He’s brilliant. He’s the best keeper we’ve seen all year.”
East Kentwood took the lead in regulation when Barone scored past Beswick late in the first half. Grand Haven tied it early in the second half on a blast from Vanderlaan.
The Bucs now turn their attention to the Division 1 district tournament, which they will host next week. Grand Haven received a first-round bye and will play the winner of Grand Rapids Union and Muskegon on Oct. 20 at 7 p.m.
Junior Varsity: The Buccaneers finished off their season with a heart-stopping 1-0 win over East Kentwood. Jon Buitenhuis’ goal in the closing seconds gave the Bucs the win.