BY DAN STICKRADT
MASON — Same opponent, same result.
Grandville Calvin Christian captured its first girls soccer state championship last season, beating Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes-Clarkston Everest Collegiate Unified, 6-0, in the Division 4 state finals.
The two met again in the Division 4 state finals Saturday at Mason High School, and the Squires found a way to win their second straight state title with a 2-1 victory over the top-ranked Lakers.
It marked the second straight season that WOLL-CEC was undefeated entering the title match only to have Calvin Christian spoil those perfect season plans.
“We knew it was going to be a really good game. Last season when we beat them by six goals, that wasn’t indicative of how good each team was,” said Calvin Christian coach Tim TerHaar, who has slowly built the Squires into a D-4 powerhouse.
“Last year we had some really dynamic players up top. This year we didn’t have those type of players. I don’t think we had the expectations as we did last year,” continued TerHarr. “But when we saw a newspaper article recently of how we lost nine seniors from last year’s team and weren’t expected to do this again, the girls really wanted to prove that they could.”
The second-ranked Squires stepped up, especially in the second half when they wore the Lakers down with their tireless work ethic and team speed. Calvin Christian (18-2-4) outshot the Lakers by a 16-11 count, including 10-6 with shots on frame, and even held a 4-1 edge on cornerkicks.
Still, the Squires had to overcome some tense moments down the stretch before celebrating their second straight state title.
The Lakers made a lineup change in the 65th minute, moving goalkeeper Megan Luttinen up top, along with injured forward Ava Doetsch, and it nearly paid off. WOLL-CEC (20-1-0) had three grand chances in the final 15 minutes, including Luttinen’s shot off the crossbar with 11:55 remaining and junior forward Anna Robb’s blast that sailed just wide of the left goal post with 8:20 left. Another Robb chance was deflected wide of the goal.
Still, WOLL-CEC could not tie the game down the stretch. The Lakers ran out of steam, not being able to play Doetsch the whole game, hurting its forward line.
“We chased too much today,” said WOLL-CEC coach Katie Hearn, who is 38-2-2 at the helm over two seasons. “I think that’s what led to our demise. We were tired and that’s what did us in on the second goal. We couldn’t get things together (in the second half) because we were tired.”
Lakes-Everest controlled play for the first 10 minutes of the contest and eventually took the lead with 21:56 left in the first half. Sophomore Shelby Mann beat her mark in the left corner and her high cross was volleyed into the net from close range by senior Brianna Topolewski.
The Lakers’ lead stood until the 10:40 mark of the first half, when Calvin Christian freshman Whitney Koets’ cross into the box was redirected into the net by sophomore Hilary Curry from 10 yards out in front of the goal.
Coming out of the half with tied at 1-1, the Squires began to mount plenty of pressure on Lakes’ net, which eventually resulted in the game-winner with 35:42 remaining in the contest.
Following a steal from just inside midfield, Curry dribbled the ball downfield and slotted a perfectly-placed ball to sophomore Emily VanVliet, who deposited her breakaway shot inside the far post past a defenseless Luttinen.
“I was worried up until the last seconds of the game,” offered TerHarr. “I knew how good they were and I knew they were capable of tying the score. They came close three times late in the game. My heart sunk when they had that one shot go off the crossbar. Fortunately for us, it didn’t go in.”
WOLL-CEC began its program in 2007 and in seven seasons have won six straight district titles, captured three regional titles and played in three state title games, including the D-4 state crown in 2010 and the runner-up spot in both 2012 and 2013.
“We talked about last year’s game all year and we were able to make it back,” said Hearn. “We lose three very special players this year (Doetsch, Jessica Parry and Topolewski). I hope the younger players gained some great experience and will come back hungry.”