BIG RAPIDS — Someone new was going to be in the Division 4 state title game.
Two teams looking for their school's first state finals berth met on a cold, wet field in Big Rapids Wednesday, and Grand Rapids Covenant Christian earned the right to move on to Saturday's championship match with a 2-0 victory over Leland.
The Comets end of their most successful years in program history with a 25-4 record and their first trip to the semifinals in about three decades.
"We haven't had to play from behind often this season," Leland coach Joe Burda said. "We got lucky against North Muskegon in the regional semi. We weren't planning on doing it again. We wanted to get one or two early. They scored that first goal, and it's a huge momentum swing."
The game's first 30 minutes were played to a virtual standstill, with each team recording several scoring opportunities, but each defense and goalie stepping up to thwart the chance.
That changed Jordan VanOostenbrugge rocketed a free kick from about 25 yards out over the Leland defensive wall and into the upper left corner of the net.
"I was thinking that far post was kind of open," VanOostenbrugge said. "The goalkeeper was standing in the middle, so I was planning on hitting it far post. I got a good kick on it and just found the back of the net. I just let it rip."
That totally changed the game's outlook and Leland was suddenly behind, although the Comets were able to generate scoring opportunities on many occasions, but not get the ball in the net.
In the second half's fifth minute, the Chargers' Corbin Prince was able to slip in and faked right before delivering a shot to the left to give the Grand Rapids club a 2-0 advantage.
"I'm proud of the guys," Covenant coach Mike Noorman said. "They've made a lot of games look comfortable when other teams played really well. Leland is a very skilled team. They made us work really hard for this win."
It might be hard to characterize either team as comfortable, however.
With the game-time temperature hovering around 40 degrees, winds gusting in the 20-30 mph range and a heavy mist falling through most of the second half, the estimated crowd of 700 and the players on the field felt it.
"I hand it to those guys," Burda said. "They came out ready to play. We didn't finish our chances we had and didn't execute a couple of things in our game plan. But I think we fought hard. They had one well-hit ball on the free kick. We tried to minimize our mistakes. And like I said, two mistakes, two goals and Grand Rapids is moving on."
Burda had several scouting reports on the Chargers, all of which said to expect a very physical team to show up. While the contest had its physical moments, it wasn't as much so as the reports predicted.
"We were ready for that," Burda said. "It was actually quite a bit less physical than we were expecting. Maybe we came in a little intimidated, too. Maybe we didn't expect it to be as clean a game as it was. They were starting to back down, waiting for a hit and we weren't getting hit. It caused us not to do what we were planning on doing."
Leland goalkeeper Mike Farese made many saves to keep the Comets in it as they tried to come back.
"We were trying to get deep into the corners and for whatever reason, we tried to punch it down the middle," Burda said. "It was completely opposite from what we tried to do. And the time we got down there, we were creating chances, but we didn't finish them."
Covenant Christian (19-4-1) heads to its first state final Saturday against Hamtramck Frontier International, which beat Genesee Christian 2-0.
"I thought back when they were ninth-graders that we could go this far," Noorman said of his team that features 11 seniors, 11 juniors and only three underclassmen. "I was looking forward to this year for quite awhile."
Leland loses five seniors, including Dylan Jolliffe, Will Gauthier, Matt Fleis, Ian Duvall and Luke Nesbitt.
"The defense really stepped up," Noorman said. "Leland has a really talented player in (Jolliffe) and a very good supporting cast."
BIG RAPIDS — Someone new was going to be in the Division 4 state title game.
TC West surges into 5th at golf finals
The rebound Traverse City West hoped for happened. In a big way.Continued ...
State golf finals results
How area teams finished in the state golf championships this weekend:Continued ...
Glen Lake plays with fire; Beal City takes win
For four innings, Glen Lake played with fire. Then, the roof caved in, and it spelled the end of the Lakers’ best baseball season in more than a decade.Continued ...
Rain adds twist to state golf finals
A large rainstorm Wednesday made play at the Division 1 and 4 state golf finals a little extra interesting.Continued ...
State golf finals standings: 1st Round
Area team places after the first round of the state finals:Continued ...
- Friday, June 14, 2013
FINAL: Beal City 15, Glen Lake 0
Beal City cruised to a 15-0 win over Glen Lake in a Division 4 baseball state semifinal in Battle Creek Friday.Continued ...
UPDATE: Beal City 1, Glen Lake 0
In the fourth inning, Glen Lake trails Beal City 1-0 in a Division 4 baseball state semifinal at C.O. Brown Stadium in Battle Creek Friday.Continued ...
Glen Lake set for Beal City in semis
Glen Lake baseball coach Kris Herman said you need three things to win a state title: Pitching, good defense and the ability to scrape out runs. A fourth factor doesn’t hurt: Luck.Continued ...
Bandrowski succeeds Murphy at TCSF
Annie Murphy, who led the St. Francis boys tennis team to three consecutive top-six finishes in Division IV, has stepped down.Continued ...
- Thursday, June 13, 2013
Titans golf team hopes history repeats itself
Traverse City West coach Mike Schultz is hoping history repeats itself when the Division I state golf finals begin Friday at Michigan State’s Forest Akers West.Continued ...
Norsemen to challenge for Division IV golf title
A rough start. An exhilarating finish. That’s how Seam Lammy’s senior year at Suttons Bay could end this weekend.Continued ...
Near tops Far 6-3 in all-star game
A little rest in between outings usually doesn’t hurt. Just ask Trent McDougall.Continued ...
- Wednesday, June 12, 2013
Lakers reach semis for 1st time since 2001
It's back to Battle Creek for Glen Lake. The Lakers will return to Cereal City for the first time since 2001 after an 8-3 Division 4 baseball quarterfinal victory Tuesday over Atlanta at Traverse City West.Continued ...
Panthers come up short against Rogers City
A lot of times when a team loses 14-2, it's assumed the losing team played poorly. Not so in this case.Continued ...
- Tuesday, June 11, 2013
Glen Lake, Frankfort in quarterfinals today
Glen Lake baseball and Frankfort softball each had turning points this season that propelled them into today's Division 4 quarterfinals at Traverse City West.Continued ...
- Monday, June 10, 2013
Prep softball state tournament at a glance
Prep softball state tournament results and schedule:Continued ...
Prep baseball state tournament at a glance
Prep baseball state tournament results and schedule:Continued ...
- Sunday, June 9, 2013
Prep Baseball Roundup: Glen Lake wins 1st regional since '01
Glen Lake survived a late rally by Frankfort on Saturday afternoon to capture a Division IV regional baseball title — its first since 2001.Continued ...
Prep Softball Roundup: Frankfort rallies to win title
Courtney Bower scored the winning run on an error in the bottom of the eighth inning Saturday, lifting Frankfort to a dramatic 6-5 victory over Bellaire in the championship game of a Division IV softball regional at Glen Lake High School.Continued ...
- Friday, June 7, 2013
Suttons Bay wins golf regional by 12; Leland's Sneed medalist
Todd Hursey was feeling much better about his team’s performance Thursday after Suttons Bay claimed the Division 4 golf regional on the Grand Traverse Resort and Spa’s Spruce Run course.Continued ...
Traverse City West repeats; Central's Munch is medalist
Traverse City West won its second consecutive Division 1 regional at Boulder Pointe Golf Course on Thursday, edging Rochester Stoney Creek by three strokes.Continued ...
All-Big North Conference soccer selections
The All-Big North Conference girls soccer picks for the 2013 season:Continued ...
- Thursday, June 6, 2013
GOLF UPDATE: TC West, Suttons Bay, Petoskey win regionals
Traverse City West shot a team score of 302 Thursday, good enough to win a Division 1 regional golf championship in Lake Orion, and advance the team to the state finals.Continued ...
Mancelona ties Onaway in Ski Valley
The Mancelona baseball team’s path to a share of the Ski Valley Conference championship was both difficult and unique.Continued ...
Today in Sports: 06/06/2013
What's happening in sports across the region and the country:Continued ...
- TC West surges into 5th at golf finals