The numbers back it up – the Squires had mercied 15 teams on their schedule this season and defeated three others by a 7-0 score.
Maybe by sheer reputation and watching video footage of the Squires caused Western Michigan Christian coach David Hulings to alter his game plan in the Division 4 state semifinals at Pat Patterson Soccer Stadium.
“We came out and marked their top players (senior Katie Klunder and junior Natalie Curry), and quite frankly, we could have done without it,” Hulings said. “If we would have played them straight up, who knows?
“We played them straight up in the second half, but it took us 20-30 minutes to get back into our rhythm and play the way we play. We changed things instead of sticking with what we brought in here.
“I took our players out of it,” he added. “You got five days to sit around and sometimes you overthink things.”
While Hulings’ defensive-minded game plan limited Calvin Christian to just a 1-0 lead at the half, WMC could never assert itself offensively and a Warriors squad comprised primarily of underclassmen wore down in the second half in a 3-0 loss.
Calvin Christian, which dropped down from Division 3 to 4 this season, will make its first-ever appearance in the state finals regardless of division on Saturday at Michigan State University. The Squires will face Clarkston Everest Collegiate, a 2-1 winner over Madison Heights Bishop Foley.
Because WMC focused so much of its attention on stopping Klunder, Curry and fellow senior standout Jenny Holsem, the Warriors’ talented forwards – Timera Crosby and Alexys Riksen, as well as midfielder/forward Rachel Karsten – were non-factors in the Squires’ zone.
Calvin Christian didn’t allow a shot on goal and peppered WMC freshman goalie Lindsey Johnson with 18. Johnson was brilliant in the second half, despite allowing two goals. She made several diving saves and pushed a pair of other blistering shots over the crossbar like a four-year varsity veteran.
“She’s a gamer,” Hulings said. “A great player.”
“She was spot on,” said Calvin Christian coach Tim TerHaar.
Johnson’s effort wasn’t enough to slow down Calvin Christian, who TerHarr calls collectively “a dynamic group of attacking players.”