BENTON TOWNSHIP — Michigan Lutheran used a flurry of late goals to put away a pesky but undermanned Lake Michigan Catholic team 7-1 on Monday in Berrien-Cass-St. Joseph Conference boys soccer.
The Titans scored five times in the final 21 minutes to pull away. The Lakers kept it close until then despite playing a large portion of the match with just nine players due to injuries.
“We had a little trouble stringing passes together,” Lutheran coach Jeff Lillo said. “The one thing we had was the ball up over the top. We kind of went with a direct play as much as possible.
“First half, they probably were better in the middle third than us, for parts of the second half they were, but we did kind of take that part of the game too at the end, and that was good.”
A.J. Deweerd scored three goals for Lutheran (2-2 BCS, 5-3), all in the final stretch. Alex Ritter scored the game’s first two goals, one in the first half and a second off an assist from Max Plocher in the 50th minute.
Catholic (0-2, 3-5) responded to Ritter’s second goal quickly, scoring just 45 minutes later when Matthew Rochefort knocked in a rebound.
“The team never gave up,” Catholic coach Roberto Overton said. “For a moment I thought we’d have a chance to tie the game up. But we’re playing I think 65 minutes with nine players which is difficult. I think everybody ran out of gas at the last minute.”
Camden Brooks and Joel Roth also scored late goals for the Titans. Roth added assists on Deweerd’s first two goals.
“Roth is kind of our central player, he was doing a lot of the serving out there,” Lillo said. “He did a fantastic job of putting the right weight on the ball, getting it in behind their defenders but staying in front of the keeper and giving Alex and A.J. a chance to run on.”
Catholic started the game with just 11 players dressed, and injuries to Nathaniel Green and David Milanowski dropped that number to nine at times. The Lakers also playing without starting goalkeeper Alexis Ramirez due to injury.
Catholic won the season-opening Byron Center Zion Christian Invitational, and Overton remains confident in his team when at full strength.
“This is an awesome team, one of the best I’ve been coaching,” Overton said.
“They have a lot of heart. Just for some reason we’ve been in unlucky situations with injuries and things like that.”
Michigan Lutheran 7, Lake Michigan Catholic 1
Goals — Lutheran: AJ Deweerd 3, Alex Ritter 2, Camden Brooks, Joel Roth. Catholic: Matthew Rochefort.
Assists — Lutheran: Roth 2, Max Plocher, Shane Elliot.
Shots on goal — Lutheran 13, Catholic 4.
Saves — Cameron Guse (ML) 3, Connor Shooks (Cath) 6.
Halftime — Lutheran 1-0.
Records — Lutheran 2-2 BCS, 5-3; Catholic 0-2, 3-5.
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