DOWAGIAC – The Dowagiac boys soccer team got off to a quick start to Monday's Division 3 district semifinal game against visiting Berrien Springs.
The Chieftains scored two first-half goals on their way to a 3-1 victory over the Shamrocks. The game was a rematch of last year's district semifinal that Dowagiac won 4-0.
"We're glad to get the win but we have to play a bit more composed than we did," Dowagiac coach Mike Williams said. "We didn't play how we normally play. We didn't move the ball well and our communication wasn't good."
Dowagiac forward Cristian Wilson fired a goal past Berrien Springs goalkeeper Hunter Zammataro less than three minutes into the game to go up 1-0. With 18 minutes remaining in the first half, Ben McCorey tapped in a header to give the Chieftains a 2-0 advantage that they would take into halftime.
The Shamrocks made adjustments in the second half and were able to create more scoring opportunities. Senior Michael Silva snuck a goal past Alejandro Martinez to cut Dowagiac's lead to 2-1 with 30 minutes to play in the second half.
"We started chasing people instead of possessing the ball and moving the ball," Williams said. "We were swinging it side to side and forcing it when we didn't have opportunities. We were taking shots when we didn't have good shots and we weren't playing with the confidence we had been."
Berrien Springs had opportunities to tie the game, with several shots bouncing off the crossbars. Dowagiac's Noah Green beat his defender and scored a breakaway goal to give Dowagiac a 3-1 late in the second half to put the game away.
"We've been dealing with some injuries," Berrien Springs coach Octavio Latino said. "We had to move players who were typically on offense to defense, so we were a little unbalanced in terms of how we play. The ball kept hitting the post for us but sometimes that's how soccer is.
"Our guys played hard; that's a good team over there but our kids didn't give up."
Martines made six saves for Dowagiac and Zammataro finished with four for Berrien Springs.
The win moves Dowagiac (16-6) into the district finals where they will face South Haven at 5 p.m. Wednesday at Coloma High School.
"We had plenty of opportunities in both halves to finish the ball," Williams said. "Berrien Springs played hard and kept good pressure on us. That's good for us in preparation for Wednesday."
Berrien Springs ends the season with a 13-8-1 record and a Berrien-Cass-St. Joseph Conference championship.
"This is one of the most disciplined teams in the league," Latino said. "They respect both the refs and the game a lot. Soccer is referred to as 'the beautiful game' and they believe in that concept. Focus on the little details that have allowed us to be successful. It's been a pleasure to coach them."
Dowagiac 3, Berrien Springs 1
Goals – D: Wilson, McCorey, Green. BSp: Silva.
Shots on goal – D: 7, BSp: 7.
Saves – Martinez (D) 6, Zammataro (BSp) 4.
Halftime – Dowagiac 2-0.
Records – Dowagiac 16-6, Berrien Springs 13-8-1.