By Perry A. Farrell
Special for Second Half
NOVI – Zero was the hero.
Muskegon Western Michigan Christian goalkeeper Jameson Goorman, who wears No. 0, was the star of the Warriors’ shootout victory Saturday in the MHSAA Division 4 Final against Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett at Novi High School.
Goorman was spectacular when the scoreless game went to penalty kicks.
After allowing a goal to Matthew Summers, he stoned Stewart Smith, Sheikh Manneh, Will Nicholson and Nolan Ondersma to set off a wild celebration by the Warriors.
“I kind of just read them,’’ said Goorman. “If they’re straight on, they’re going to push the ball to the right. I just do my best. I’m just overwhelmed with excitement. I just try to save every single one. That’s my mindset. I was trying to give my team the best shot to win.’’
The winning goal was scored by Isaac VanHoeven, who broke the 1-1 shootout tie after teammates Brevin Byrne and Charlie Alfree were stopped trying to follow up on Brandon Fles’ goal on the team’s first attempt.
“This is unreal,’’ said VanHoeven. “I’m not going to lie; I put it to God. I have no clue where the ball was going. I thought right, I looked left. I thought I was going to go right. I ended up going a bit more central than I expected. We take those.
“Jameson is an unbelievable player. When you talk about top goal keepers, his name has to be up there. He’s just unreal.’’
Goorman also came up big last week under similar circumstances, in a Regional Final shootout win over top-ranked Grandville Calvin Christian.
“Was Jamo big or what? He is amazing,’’ said Warriors coach David Hulings. “I’ll tell you a story. People wanted me to talk to him about being intimidating in the box, and I said: ‘You know what? You don’t talk to Jamo. He just knows what he’s doing.’
“He just has a sense about him. We’re not here without those kinds of saves. Brandon (Fles) shut those forwards down and Jake Betten in the middle, but he (Goorman) made great saves at the end of the second half. That’s not me; that’s his DNA and his parents.’’
Long before these student-athletes were born, University Liggett and Western Michigan Christian were battling for state soccer supremacy in Division 4 and formerly Class D.
The two schools renewed the rivalry Saturday afternoon at Novi.
The Warriors (19-2-3) were seeking their seventh Finals title and first since 2010. Liggett owns four Finals titles and was seeking its first since 1996.
The two schools last played each other in a Final in 1999, with the Knights prevailing 4-2. In 1982, the Knights beat the Warriors 2-1 for their first soccer championship.
The Warriors had allowed just one goal in tournament play while scoring 27. Liggett scored 19 goals in tournament play, while allowing three.
Speedy forwards Sheikh Manneh and Stewart Smith made an immediate impact against the Warriors’ defense, racing past defenders to put pressure on. Manneh was hurt during the second half of overtime and had to leave the game.
Western Michigan had a golden opportunity to score early, but Michael Masumpa’s shot hit the post and bounded away with just under 13 minutes left in the first half.
Action started picking up during the last eight minutes of regulation as both sides upped the energy offensively. Late in the second half, Masumpa made a dash to the net, but was blocked by a Liggett defender, potentially saving the game.
Doug Wood also had a shot on goal that would’ve been a game-winner had it not hit the post. Masumpa had a chance to win the game late in overtime, but got his feet tangled and missed the shot.
Liggett junior keeper Sam Sword, like Goorman for WMC, had nine saves not counting his stops during the shootout.
“They get to lift the trophy, but I couldn’t be more proud of how we represented ourselves,’’ said Liggett coach David Dwaihy. “It’s a really good thing to feel and deal with and move on from.''
PHOTOS: (Top) Western Michigan Christian hoists it first Finals championship trophy Saturday since 2010. (Middle) Liggett’s Nolan Ondersma (8) works to out-maneuver WMC’s Brevin Byrne.
SCHOOLCRAFT — If it is a home game for the Schoolcraft football team, head over to Vicksburg.
If it is soccer, go to Schoolcraft’s baseball field.
Things are a bit jumbled in the sports world for the Eagles this season.
With a new football field under construction and a new elementary school built on the site of the former practice fields, the two teams have been a bit displaced.
“Along with our football field, we had three practice fields that were utilized by a lot of our youth programs, Rocket football, youth soccer and our soccer and football programs,” Schoolcraft athletic director Bryan Applin said. “It’s taken a lot of understanding and flexibility from our coaches, players and our community to make it work out, and it has.”
Meanwhile, all four Eagles home football games will be played at Vicksburg High School.
If Vicksburg is home on a Friday, then the Eagles will play Saturday, including their Homecoming game this Saturday against Galesburg-Augusta.
The Eagles won their only “home” game so far, 33-14 against Kalamazoo United, and take a 3-1 record into Saturday’s contest.
The soccer team gave up its field to the football team for practices and has been practicing and playing their matches in the outfield of the baseball stadium.
For the soccer team, “It’s kind of an upgrade,” Applin said. “The soccer field they traditionally play on, they don’t have a scoreboard, they don’t have a bathroom facility, so we’ve been able to use the (baseball) scoreboard, the PA system, open up the bathroom building.
“The goal at some point is to give soccer a home, and we’re very, very excited about that.”
This year definitely has been challenging for the first-year AD, who credits Vicksburg athletic director Mike Roy with being a tremendous help.
“Mike Roy has been nothing but accommodating to us,” Applin said. “He’s been super helpful to me stepping in and assuming this scenario.
“The communities are so close, it almost feels like home for us.”
Roy said Jeff Clark, former Schoolcraft AD, reached out once the bond was passed for the new stadium last year.
“We had to make small accommodations as did Schoolcraft to make the schedules work,” Roy said. “By moving (Schoolcraft’s) games to Saturday, Vicksburg had to work with our Rocket football organization to make sure games were completed” before the Eagles varsity games.
Schoolcraft football coach Nathan Ferency said his team has been “rolling with the punches.
“These guys don’t care where it’s at; they just want to play football. We’re all taking care of each other. What a great place to be when everybody works together.”
When Jake Bailey heard the team would be playing at Vicksburg, “That got me excited,” the junior offensive tackle said. “They’ve got a really nice facility. I know the school will come out to support us no matter where we are, but it’s definitely different.
“Good thing we don’t play Vicksburg, although it would be fun because it would be both our home fields. The new facilities and being back at our home field at Roy Davis (Field next year) will be really fun.”
Vicksburg is Division 4, while Schoolcraft is Division 7.
The soccer team was “just being a team player” in giving up its own field for football practice, second-year head coach Jeremy Mutchler said.
“For the soccer team to be a team player and get behind the football team will help the community get behind the soccer team as well,” he added.
The biggest drawback is that part of the current field includes a piece of the baseball infield.
“The only odd thing is it is a smaller field, still regulation size, but smaller,” Mutchler said. “Part of the field is in the diamond, so we have to play in the dirt and it gets tricky, especially when you’re trying to throw it in or just play down the line.”
The move has cost the team a few home games.
“At the beginning of the year, we allowed schools, if they didn’t want to play here, we would go to their house,” Mutchler said. “We had to go to a few schools we would have played at home.”
Maintenance supervisor Eric McGehee was instrumental in preparing the field.
“He laid out exactly the parameters, so I was able to send that to all the ADs that were going to visit to give them an opportunity to decide whether that’s something they wanted to help us out for our home games,” Applin said. “A lot of schools were more than willing to come and play us to give our boys some home games. A couple wanted to be cautious and play on a more traditional surface, and we were able to make those arrangements as well.”
In only its second year as a varsity sport, the boys soccer team is still finding its identity, posting a 2-5 record so far.
“We’re a very young team,” Mutchler said. “All juniors and freshmen. This is the juniors' second regular season. It’s all been a learning phase with maturity and sportsmanship.”
Junior captain Jack Curtis said he was a bit “bummed out” when he heard the team would move to the baseball field.
“The first practice, I drove over to our practice field,” he said. “No one was there.
“I drove over to the high school and saw everyone practicing (at the baseball field). I didn’t think a soccer field could fit on a baseball field.”
Curtis said in spite of the temporary move, “I’m just glad we can have some home games this year on Schoolcraft soil.”
As for Applin, he spent much of his career coaching basketball at both the high school and college levels and most recently worked as a salesman for Zeigler. His wife, Meredith, is an assistant coach for Western Michigan University’s women’s basketball team.
Ferency is appreciative of the work Clark and Applin have done to make this season’s changes relatively seamless.
“I’d like to highlight how great our athletic department is,” he said. “It takes a lot of moving pieces and parts to move people around and have a space for everybody.
“I’m really proud of our athletic department and all our coaches and kids for just rolling with the punches.”
Pam Shebest served as a sportswriter at the Kalamazoo Gazette from 1985-2009 after 11 years part-time with the Gazette while teaching French and English at White Pigeon High School. She can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Calhoun, Kalamazoo and Van Buren counties.
PHOTOS (Top) Schoolcraft’s varsity boys soccer team, including Nyan Wonders (15), faces Comstock this season on its field in the outfield of the baseball stadium. (2) Schoolcraft’s Kolby Lloyd (10) works to break away from a tackler during a “home” game played at Vicksburg this fall. (3) Clockwise, from top left: Schoolcraft football coach Nathan Ferency, Schoolcraft boys soccer coach Jeremy Mutchler, soccer player Jack Curtis and football player Jake Bailey. (4) Schoolcraft athletic director Bryan Applin has taken over the maneuvering of the teams’ home sites during his first year on the job. (Action photos by Stephanie Blentlinger/Lingering Memories Photography. Headshots and Applin photo by Pam Shebest.)