The Bucs picked up their first victory under new head coach Nick Tejchma over the Sailors in razing fashion as they opened up a four-goal first half lead, ending in a 5-2 swashbuckling.
“What an atmosphere,” Tejchma said of Saturday’s home contest. “We have been preparing for this for the past week and a half and the boys were just ready to go. I could see it in warm-up and in the huddle before the game. What a great start in front of a great home crowd. It is really exciting to get the season going.”
See photos of Saturday’s game
Grand Haven scored early and often, netting their first goal just eight minutes into the game. From there they extended their lead to 4-0 with just two seconds left to play in the opening half when Mona Shores capitalized on a free-kick opportunity to light the away column of the scoreboard.
The second half was less turbulent. The Bucs took back their four-goal margin five minutes into the half, and the Sailors answered with 10 minutes left to play, netting their second set piece of the afternoon — this time via a corner kick.
The Bucs put their dynamic roster of scorers on display Saturday as Jaden King, Mason Mahacek, Zach Falconer and Gavin Jonker each netted a goal, with senior Mahacek picking up two. The offensive effort was inspiring for Tejchma.
“We’ve got some talent on this team. They are all dangerous,” he said. “It is a nice problem to have. I’m excited to see what they can accomplish.”
Despite their plethora of playmakers, it took a few minutes for the Bucs to find their rhythm.
Mona Shores dominated possession through the first 10 minutes of play Saturday, as Grand Haven searched for their timing and teamwork. It took the first goal of the match to put the Bucs at ease. After snatching the lead, things started clicking for the Grand Haven offense and the rest was history for the Sailors.
“I think we just settled down,” Mahacek said. “There was a lot of nerves built up and that made for a lot of bad first touches in those first 10 minutes. We settled down and figured it out from there. We started to possess well and eventually built up. We got ourselves a lot of good chances from just being in their half for a lot of the game.”
King snagged the honor of the first goal of the season at the 32-minute mark of the match. The junior striker received an entry pass at the top of the box before weaving through traffic and surviving a hard challenge by the Mona Shores keeper to finish the goal.
Mahacek struck next, aided by Jonker drawing a free kick at dead-center field just outside of the top of the box. After a brief deliberation, Mahacek rocketed home the free kick to give Grand Haven a 2-0 lead with 26:10 left in the first half.
Three minutes later, Mahacek picked up an assist, threading a pass to a charging Falconer who navigated through a crowded box to bury the Bucs’ third goal of the contest.
Jonker finished up Grand Haven’s first-half barrage with an unassisted rip from the far right side of the box, gaining the slightest advantage over his Sailor defender before ripping a shot across his body.
Mona Shores’ last-second goal stemmed the bleeding for a moment, but the Bucs got right back to it in the second half.
Joe Walsh showcased his trademark speed to challenge the Mona Shores keeper and steal an outlet pass five minutes into the half. As the keeper scrambled back toward the net, Walsh calmly passed the ball off to a charging Mahacek, who finished in the open net.
With 10 minutes left to play, the Sailors netted a corner kick via header to bring the game to its final tally.
Mahacek credited his two goals to his teammates for putting him in the right spots Saturday.
“Hats off to Joe Walsh, he really got me one there,” he said. “The other one was a set piece from Gavin. He drew the foul; I just got to finish it off. It is really nice to get to capitalize on those opportunities from your teammates.”
Effortless teamwork looks to be a strength of the 2018 boys soccer team, one that Tejchma hopes they can retain and develop over the course of the season.
“We were moving the ball around really well and seeing the field. It all comes back to that communication,” he said. “I think communication was working well and that is the key for us.
“If we can communicate where the ball needs to go and who needs to be making that run, we’re going to have a great season.”
Grand Haven returns to the pitch Tuesday at Traverse City West.