Shut-Down Defense Nets Unity D3 Win

November 1, 2014

By Ron Rop
Special for Second Half

KENTWOOD – When a team plays defense like Hudsonville Unity Christian is used to playing, it sure takes a lot of pressure off the offensive players when they often need to score only one score.

That air-tight defense was on display Saturday in the MHSAA Division 3 Boys Soccer Final as the Crusaders defeated Williamston 1-0 on a sunny, yet windy and chilly afternoon at Crestwood Middle School.

How good has the Crusaders’ defense been of late?

Saturday’s title game saw Unity’s 17th shutout in its last 19 games. And that string of shutouts came after Unity allowed nine goals in its first six games, including its only loss, 4-3, at the hands of Grand Rapids Christian.

For the Crusaders, it was the program’s fourth title with the last coming in 2012 in Division 2.

“We really emphasize team defense, all 11 defending together,” Unity coach Randy Heethuis said. “Williamston played a great game. They beat us to a lot of balls, especially late in the first half. Things got a little better for us in the second half.”

It was the early going of the opening half that produced the only goal the Crusaders would need.

A 50-yard free kick off the foot of senior defender Trent Vegter found the head of fellow senior Jared Timmer for the game’s lone goal with just 6½ minutes elapsed off the first-half clock.

“Trent Vegter played it in and No. 17 (Josh Flint) was man-marking me the entire game – give him credit, he was doing very well – but I kind of snuck in behind him and he missed it,” Timmer said. “And I just tried to put it back post, and it just went over the keeper’s hands.”

It was Timmer’s team-leading 30th goal of the season.

And with a solid defense, that single goal took off a lot of pressure off the Crusaders.

“When we scored that first goal, it was like OK,  we had only given up two goals in the last 18 games, but you don’t know if a goal like that is going to hold up,” Heethuis said.

Unity Christian finished the season 24-1 while Williamston ended 14-4-6.

The Hornets had a solid attack from the outside, led by junior forward Zach Griffin, the team’s leading scorer throughout the season.

“They had a few dangerous moments, and it was not one that we could cruise through by any stretch of the imagination,” Heethuis said.

In the latter stages of the opening half, Williamston did make some noise in the offensive end when Jacob Topp found Josh Ward, who narrowly missed with a shot from a sharp angle.

In the second half, as Williamston was trying to mount offensive pressure in an attempt to produce a tying goal, the Unity defense took control with center back Nick Dykman, Jacob Brinks, MacKenna Senti and Bryce Schreur leading the way along with goalkeeper Lucas Ohlman.

With 14 minutes remaining in the game, Unity nearly added a second goal when Timmer unloaded a 30-yard shot that caused some problems for Hornets goalkeeper Jake Iannarelli. With the ball rolling free in front of the goal, Carson Brinks was able to get a foot on the ball, but could not find the net.

From there, the Crusaders were able to run out the clock and celebrate another MHSAA soccer title.

“At the beginning of the year, we talk to the kids and tell them the season is going to be broken up this way,” Heethuis said. “The first thing is to compete for a conference title. That is goal No. 1. Then, after that, we are going to take on the state tournament, and you’ve got three little tournaments. You have three games to win the district, you get by that and it’s two more to be regional champs and two more to be state champs. They focused on the games they needed to, and we came out on top.”

“We told the boys it would be a one-goal game,” Williamston coach Brent Sorg said. “We knew they are a very good team. But you know what? We liked the way we matched up with them. We are a very good team.”

“Their goalkeeper didn’t have to deal with much, their back do an incredible job of screening and blocking shots and winning the first ball, and it’s a credit to them,” Sorg added.

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS: (Top) Unity Christian's Jared Timmer maintains possession Saturday despite a challenge from Williamston junior Ian Petri. (Below) Williamston's Zach Richardson (11) attempts to get the ball away from Unity's Carson Brinks. (Click for all team and action photos from Hockey Weekly Action Photos.)

Be the Referee: Soccer Offsides or Goal?

By Paige Winne
MHSAA Marketing & Social Media Coordinator

May 23, 2023

Be The Referee is a series of short messages designed to help educate people on the rules of different sports, to help them better understand the art of officiating, and to recruit officials.

Below is this week's segment – Soccer Offsides or Goal? - Listen

Today we’re on the soccer field for another You Make the Call.

Team A has a throw-in near midfield. Team A’s No. 9 is clearly in an offside position when the throw-in comes directly to her. She collects the ball and kicks it past the keeper and into the goal. What’s the call?

Should the referee:

► Award an indirect free kick to Team B?

► Award a goal kick to Team B?

► Award a re-take of the throw-in to Team A?

► Award a goal to Team A?

If you said, "Award a goal to Team A" … you are correct, despite the goal-scorer being in a clear offsides position.

The soccer rulebook states that a player shall not be penalized for offsides if she receives the ball directly from a goal kick, corner kick or throw-in. It’s a legal play – and counts as a goal.

Previous Editions:

May 16: Track & Field Exchange Zones - Listen
May 9: Girls Lacrosse Self-Start - Listen
May 2: Baseball/Softball Overthrow - Listen
April 25: Fifth-Quarter/Third-Half Rule - Listen
April 18: Soccer Referee in Play? - Listen
April 11: Softball Strikeout - Listen
March 14: Basketball Instant Replay - Listen
March 7: Hockey Overtime - Listen
Feb. 28: Baker Bowling - Listen
Feb. 21: Ski Finish - Listen
Feb. 14: Swimming Touchpads - Listen
Feb. 7: In or Out-of-Bounds in Wrestling - Listen
Jan. 31: Over the Back - Listen
Jan. 24: Competitive Cheer Judges - Listen
Jan. 17: More Lines - Listen
Jan. 10: On the Line - Listen
Jan. 3: Basketball Measurements - Listen
Dec. 13: Pregame Dunks - Listen
Dec. 6: Gymnastics Judges - Listen
Nov. 22: Football Finals Replay - Listen
Nov. 15: Back Row Illegal Blocker - Listen
Nov. 8: Swim Turn Judges - Listen
Nov. 1: Soccer Referee Jersey Colors - Listen
Oct. 25: Cross Country Tie-Breaker - Listen
Oct. 18: Soccer Shootouts - Listen
Oct. 11: Safety in End ZoneListen
Oct. 4: Football Overtime Penalty - Listen
Sept. 27: Kickoff Goal - Listen
Sept. 20: Soccer Timing - Listen
Sept. 13: Volleyball Replays - Listen
Sept. 6: Switching Sides - Listen
Aug. 30: Play Clock - Listen
Aug. 23: Intentional Grounding Change
- Listen

PHOTO: An official raises his flag during this spring's Trenton/Pontiac Notre Dame Prep game. (Photo by Chris Mudd/National Photo Scout.)