PAW PAW — St. Joseph never got going in Saturday's Division 2 boys soccer district championship game against Mattawan, falling 3-0.
"They played on point since the opening whistle," St. Joseph coach John Brown said. "We just didn't execute and play our style at all from the get-go."
Although No. 4 Mattawan (17-3-3) largely controlled play in the first half, No. 7 St. Joseph (16-6-1) was able to keep the game scoreless until after the break. The Wildcats didn't take long to get on the board in the second half, as Connor Burkett knocked in the opening goal off an assist from Chad Harrison with 38:57 left in the game.
"I'd love to tell you we had wonderful halftime adjustments, but we went with the wind," Mattawan coach Kirt Brown said. "I thought we did a lot of attacking going against the wind in the first half."
Mattawan added a second goal midway through the second half on a shot from the edge of the box by Connor Williams. Harrison sealed the victory with a late goal off an assist from Thomas Martinic.
The Wildcats also had two apparent goals disallowed due to offsides calls in the second half.
"I thought we did a pretty organized job of staying wide," Kirt Brown said. "I thought we caused them some trouble.
"I felt like we were clicking pretty good. In the end, you've got to put a ball away, but they defended like crazy in the first half."
Saturday's game was the third meeting between the two teams. Both teams had previously won on their home field — Mattawan took the first matchup 3-1, and St. Joseph came back with a 2-0 victory in the Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference tournament.
"I would like to say that the field doesn't make a difference, but we play so much better on turf than we do on grass," John Brown said. "They play better on grass than turf. Neutral site, on grass, it's almost a home game for them. But that had nothing to do with... we just didn't execute at all. We weren't connecting passes. We just didn't look like we were ready for today."
St. Joseph graduates six seniors who have had to spend two years in a leadership role, as last season's team had no seniors.
"Hats off to the senior class," John Brown said. "They really took what we're trying to build to the next level, and the underclassmen now need to get it to the next step. They know what they need to do."
Mattawan 3, St. Joseph 0
Goals — Connor Burkett, Connor Williams, Chad Harrison.
Assists — Harrison, Thomas Martinic.
Shots on goal — Mattawan 5, St. Joseph 1.
Saves — Nick Menke (SJ) 1, Preston Nichols (SJ) 1, Carson Foor (M) 1.
Halftime — 0-0.
Records — Mattawan 17-3-3, St. Joseph 16-6-1.
Contact: bsanders@TheHP.com, 429-1294, @HPBenSanders