BY JAMES COOK
MIDLAND — Petoskey's overtime victory in Saturday's Division 2 regional final gave northern Michigan its third entrant into the state semifinals.
The Northmen scored in the third minute of the first extra session on an Evan Altman goal to defeat No. 4-ranked East Lansing.
Goaltender Drew Smith made it stand up, posting the shutout in goal to give Petoskey its 13th win in its last 15 outings.
"We've got a nice group," second-year Northmen coach Zach Jonker said. "We've got no superstars, but we play well together."
Petoskey joins Leland and Elk Rapids in Wednesday's state semifinals.
The Comets — an honorable mention team in the coaches' association's final rankings — play No. 8 Grand Rapids Covenant Christian in the Division 4 semis in Big Rapids, while No. 7 Elk Rapids heads to Grand Rapids Christian to face off with honorable mention pick Williamston in the Division 3 semifinals.
Petoskey returns to Midland to meet up with No. 9 Bloomfield Cranbrook-Kingswood.
"If reflects the growth in soccer in northern Michigan as a whole," Jonker said of the three teams advancing this far. "And you've got TC Central taking Whitehall to overtime in the regionals, too."
Saturday's win was the Northmen's eighth regional title since the program's inception in 1993 and first semifinal birth since 2009, when they beat Cranbrook 2-1 in the semis.
But the Saturday victory wasn't easy.
"The first half was pretty even," Jonker said. "In the second half, we kind of got dominated. We held on for dear life and then got a great goal in the overtime."
Hunter Viles headed the ball back across the box to Altman, who converted for the game's only score.