ST. JOSEPH — When St. Joseph and Mattawan’s girls soccer teams met in the regular season, neither team could manage to put a goal in the net. In Saturday’s Division 2 district championship game at St. Joseph, it looked as if both teams were headed for a similar result.
Fortunately for the Bears, senior midfielder Megan Corbe had other plans.
Corbe scored two goals late in half two, and Julia Adent added a third for the Bears as St. Joseph outlasted the Wildcats, winning 3-0 to claim the district crown. The win gave the Bears their second district title in three seasons.
“That’s a senior coming through big at the end of the game, but really it’s all 25 of these girls,” said St. Joseph coach Chris Froelich. “Even the girls that are injured are here every day. All of them are working and grinding. What a great win for us.”
The Bears (13-3-2) advance to Tuesday’s regional semifinal game against Gull Lake (14-2-1) at 5 p.m. at Spring Arbor University.
In Saturday’s match, neither team put a shot on goal in the first 31 minutes before rain, thunder and lightning forced a 90-minute weather delay.
In the final nine minutes of the first half following the rain delay, both the Bears and Mattawan (8-6-2) managed one shot on goal, but neither could break through.
In the second half, both teams continued to struggle to find scoring opportunities until Mikayla Ball carried the ball down the right side of the field. Ball then launched a cross deep into the box that slipped through Mattawan keeper Emma Gariepy’s hands.
Corbe was in the right place at the right time and was able to nudge the ball into the net with a header and give the Bears a 1-0 advantage at 51:31 on what was just the team’s second shot on goal.
“Mikayla (Ball) dribbled in. She beat her (defender) on the sideline and served in a perfect ball,” said Corbe. “I was just lucky to be right there, and the goalie just happened to miss it, so it worked out really well.”
Following Corbe’s goal, St. Joseph continued to pressure the Wildcats. The Bears generated multiple scoring opportunities, finishing the second half with seven shots on goal for a game total of eight. Mattawan had just two shots all game.
“We felt pretty good about tying them at zeroes the first time we played them, so we knew we were going to have our hands full,” Mattawan coach Kirt Brown said. “It kind of seemed like after they got one, the flood gates kind of opened.
“They’re a good team, and I’m not embarrassed to have lost to them at all.”
Corbe’s second goal came at 71:40 after Mackenzie Hoecherl took a shot that deflected off Gariepy to the feet of Corbe, who again finished.
Just two minutes later, Adent got her goal by lofting a long, high shot from 25 yards out that barely slipped inside the upper right corner.
Froelich said he had expected a close contest against Mattawan, but was pleased by his team’s ability to continue to put pressure on the Wildcats.
“That first 40 minutes, even with the rain delay in there, that’s what the first (regular-season match) was like,” he said. “We felt like we could break them down a little bit, and slowly we could feel it kind of tick a little bit and we just came through.
“Once we got a little confidence, you could feel it. We were pouring it on and it was really good. Lots of credit to Kirt and that team. They fought hard and played really well. We were just able to get some goals in the end, and that was the difference.”
The Bears will have a chance to play for a regional championship next week, but will have to get past a tough Gull Lake team in the semifianls to do so.
“We’ve seen them twice. We know exactly what it is and we know exactly how they’re going to play,” Froelich said of Gull Lake, who holds 4-2 and 3-0 victories over the Bears this season. “It’s going to be a huge challenge for us. They’re a great team and they’ve got some really good individuals. We’re going to have to rise to the occasion.
“It’ll be a good battle, and we’ll see if we can get some redemption against them.”
St. Joseph 3, Mattawan 0
Goals — Megan Corbe 2, Julia Adent.
Assists — Mikayla Ball, Mackenzie Hoecherl 2.
Halftime — Tied 0-0.
Shots — St. Joseph 8, Mattawan 2.
Saves — Emma Gariepy (M) 5, Cailynn Junk (SJ) 2. Records — St. Joseph 13-3-2, Mattawan 8-6-2.