ST. JOSEPH — St. Joseph will have a shot at its second district championship in three years after cruising to a girls soccer Division 2 district semifinal win against Niles on Tuesday evening.
The Bears scored eight goals from eight different players in an 8-0 rout of the Vikings.
St. Joseph will play Mattawan in the district championship on Saturday at 10 a.m. at St. Joseph. The Wildcats were a 2-1 winner over Lakeshore in a thrilling matchup that needed both overtime and a penalty kick shootout to decide a winner.
In Tuesday’s second semifinal, St. Joseph (12-3-2) controlled the entire game, possessing the ball on the attacking side of the field for much of the match.
Niles (4-12-1) struggled to get moving offensively, tallying no shots on goal through the game. St. Joseph, on the other hand, put 15 on net and also attempted 14 corner kicks.
“Everybody contributes, everybody participates, and that’s something we love to do,” said St. Joseph coach Chris Froelich. “We got everybody out there and moved it around a little bit. We put eight goals up on the board. It’s a good showing, and now we shift our focus to Mattawan here Saturday.”
St. Joseph got four goals in the first half. Breaking through for the Bears were Megan Corbe, Kaitlyn Yack, Lindsey Adent and Mackenzie Hoecherl.
The Bears continued to pressure in the second, scoring just 14 seconds into the half on a goal from Elle Pavlopoulos. Kate Gersonde added another goal for St. Joseph five minutes later, and Hannah Pallo and Julia Adent also got in on the scoring to end the game via 8-0 mercy rule.
Gersonde’s goal was particularly special for the Bears. Gersonde was the only player before Tuesday’s matchup that hadn’t scored a goal for St. Joseph this season.
“Everybody that’s been on the varsity roster has scored this year. That’s something we take pride in,” Froelich said. “Everybody is dangerous, but also we have multiple players that we can put in multiple positions, and that’s a great asset to have.”
In the first semifinal, Lakeshore (8-8-1) and Mattawan (8-5-2) played an even contest, with Lakeshore attempting seven shots on goal to Mattawan’s six.
The two teams were tied 0-0 at halftime before Mattawan’s Jenna Bussott finally broke the tie just over 60 minutes into the game. Bussott sent a long shot from nearly 30 yards out into the net to give the Wildcats a 1-0 advantage.
Lakeshore coach Brian Samuel said he thought the Lancers played some of their best soccer of the season despite the loss.
“From the beginning, I thought our first 20 (minutes) was our best 20 of the season,” Samuel said. “We worked on getting the ball behind the backs and attacking going forward, and I don’t want to say it was perfect because we didn’t put any (goals) in, but that was a great 20 minutes for us.”
Lakeshore was not short on scoring opportunities, as the Lancers put a few quality shots on net. Mattawan’s keeper, Emma Gariepy, finished with six key saves in net. Lakeshore’s Elana Mitchell made multiple key saves as well, including two diving stops in the overtime period.
The Lancers got their goal with just 24 seconds remaining in regulation after Emily Waning lofted a high shot over Gariepy on an assist from Ella Jeske.
“My assistant and I were talking about what we change up,” Samuel said of Waning’s goal. “We were getting great opportunities, so I didn’t really want to switch something major and do some crazy push. Emily stepped up there and got her foot on it. It was an awesome goal there with 24 seconds.”
“You can’t be happy about that, but that’s soccer. That’s the way it goes,” Mattawan coach Kirt Brown added. “It was a tough game. You’re looking for one chance to squeak one in and that’s all it takes. They had the equalizer, so kudos to them. They played hard all game, so they probably deserved one, and there it was.”
Lakeshore couldn’t manage to put a shot on net in the overtime, but forced the shootout behind Mitchell’s play in net.
After both teams missed their opening penalty kick shots, Mattawan connected on its next four. Lakeshore missed its first two, but got two in a row from Waning and Kylie Retterbush before Gariepy saved the final Lancers shot.
“We train for that,” Samuel said of the shootout. “We spend a lot of time making sure the girls are ready and understand where their spot is, we just missed our spots.”
Froelich said he expects a competitive game against the Wildcats in Saturday’s finals. The Bears and Mattawan met once in the regular season. That game ended in a 0-0 tie.
“I imagine it’s going to be almost identical to that Lakeshore-Mattawan game,” Froelich said. “It’s going to be a one-goal game. I wouldn’t be surprised if it took overtime and maybe (penalty kicks) there. They’re a good team. They’re strong, they’re fast and they’re confident, as they should be. We feel like we’re the exact same thing, so it’s two really good teams going to battle it out for a district championship.”
Mattawan 2, Lakeshore 1
Mattawan wins shootout 4-2
Goals — Mattawan: Jenna Bussott. Lakeshore: Emily Waning.
Assists — Lakeshore: Ella Jeske.
Shots — Mattawan 7, Lakeshore 6.
Saves — Elana Mitchell (L) 6, Emma Gariepy (M) 5.
Halftime — Tied 0-0.
End of regulation — Tied 1-1.
End of overtime — Tied 1-1.
Shootout goals — Mattawan: Sophie Ross, Natalie Martinic, Lauren Sysol, Jenna Bussott. Lakeshore: Waning, Kylie Retterbush.
Records — Lakeshore 8-8-1, Mattawan 8-5-2.
St. Joseph 8, Niles 0
Goals — Megan Corbe, Kaitlyn Yack, Elle Pavlopoulos, Mackenzie Hoecherl, Lindsey Adent, Kate Gersonde, Hannah Pallo, Julia Adent.
Assists — Mikayla Ball, Hoecherl, Lindsey Adent, Pallo.
Halftime — St. Joseph 4-0.
Shots — St. Joseph 15, Niles 0.
Saves — Skyler Brawley (N) 7, Cailynn Junk (SJ) 0, Morgan Shell (SJ) 0.
Records — St. Joseph 12-3-2, Niles 4-12-1.