It was the last regular season home game for 14 Grand Haven senior soccer players as well as coach Aaron Dean’s birthday.
However, the weather and visiting O-K Red Conference foe East Kentwood put a damper on any celebration the Grand Haven faithful had in mind. The Falcons scored twice in the second half of a waterlogged battle to leave Grand Haven High School with a 2-0 shutout win on Wednesday night.
Photos from Wednesday’s game
“I think East Kentwood outworked us,” said Grand Haven coach Aaron Dean. “They seemed to be a little more motivated, they worked harder, and I take the responsibility for that. I didn’t have our guys ready to go, but they (East Kentwood) definitely deserved to win tonight. They did the little things better than we did.
“It could have had something to do with the fact that we got them the first time around and they were out to get us. Who knows what the factors were, but they certainly played really hard tonight.”
Dean dismissed the idea of the team being too emotional in its final regular season appearance in front of its home crowd.
“I don’t think that was much of an issue,” he said. “It was our last home game of the year, so that can tend to get emotional, but we did a big Senior Night celebration with the parents earlier in the season, so they should have just been focused on the game and not much else.”
Despite the disappointing home loss, the team knows it can hang with anyone it runs up against in the postseason when they play up to their abilities.
“I thought we had some good runs at times tonight,” Dean added. “We know we can beat good teams. We had a big win over Rockford and then ran into a tough Caledonia team, and sometimes you get a little lackadaisical. I think that was the case tonight. I don’t think our preparation was quite right, but I don’t think we were way off with our performance on the field, though. It was a competitive game.
“I told the guys after the game that we have good players, we are a good team, we aren’t going to get blown out by anybody, but when we play other quality opponents, it’s the little things that are going to make the difference. Tonight, East Kentwood won more of the little battles and that was all the difference.”
The Bucs seemed to control the middle of the field early on in the game, but execution in the final third of the field was not as sharp as it had been in recent games.
“That’s kind of been a theme for the season, unfortunately,” Dean lamented. “The last couple of games, we’ve been able to create some good looks and score some good goals, but tonight, it was tough finding anything near their net. We were dangerous, though. We created opportunities to score, we defended well, and it was just a slugfest for a while.”
Dean hopes the loss will serve as a learning moment for his squad as they know prepare for the postseason.
“This was a good wake up call for us,” Dean said of the loss. “I think we will certainly be motivated moving forward, and we will have a couple of good days of practice in preparation for the district tournament. I don’t think we’ll have the same issues next week that we had tonight.”
Grand Haven receives a first-round bye in the Division 1 district tournament and will play the winner of West Ottawa and Jenison next Thursday at Mona Shores High School with kickoff slated for 5 p.m.