NORTON SHORES – Ali Trautner picked a great night to find her scoring touch.
The Mona Shores junior does not generally produce a lot of goals, but on Monday, with the O-K Green Conference tournament championship on the line, she was locked and loaded.
Playing out of her normal position, Trautner scored her team’s second goal to put the Sailors up 2-0 in the first half, then scored the game-winner following a Zeeland East comeback, giving Mona Shores a 3-2 victory in the tournament championship game.
The victory gave the Sailors, who were co-champions in the regular season, the overall league title. It is their fifth consecutive conference championship.
“The last three games Ali has really stepped up for us,” said Mona Shores Coach Dylan Darga. “She has the very unique ability to play anywhere on the field. Tonight she was clutch with two goals and an assist on the first goal. Her play really gave us the spark we needed tonight. She came up huge.”
The latest title continues a dynasty that Mona Shores has built in conference play over the past five years.
The Sailors have not lost a conference since 2017, posting an incredible 52-0-4 record in five seasons, not counting 2020 when there was no season due to COVID.
“It’s been pretty impressive,” Darga said about the long championship run. “The credit goes to the past players who set the standard, and the current ones who understand it and continue to carry it out. The girls really buy into that. Conference play is great, and competing at a high level in conference is a good prep for the state tournament. We have some pretty good teams in our conference.”
The game was even in the first half until the Sailors struck with two late goals – the first by Shay Norden (her 23rd of the season) with about three minutes remaining, then a goal by Trautner about a minute later. Mona Shores went to halftime with a 2-0 advantage.
Zeeland East got a break early in the second half when a Mona Shores player who was trying to clear the ball away from the net put it in the goal instead, making the score 2-1.
The Chix added to their momentum with 16 minutes left in regulation when senior Paige Westra scored, tying the game at 2-2 and making the Mona Shores fans nervous.
“A lot of credit to Zeeland East, honestly,” Darga said about the Chix’ effort in the second half. “We talked at halftime how there was still 40 minutes left and if we don’t finish bad things will happen.”
The Sailors regrouped from that point forward, controlling the ball and keeping the pressure on the Zeeland East goal.
Trautner scored the game-winner with 11:23 remaining, and that’s all the Sailors needed to sew up another title.
“It feels amazing,” Trautner said. “I think with the team support everything works out well. The play was really organized today. When I had the shot, I took it, and it turned out well.”
“To respond the way the girls did, going up then having it tied, and then to finish it off, you can just tell the heart that they have,” Darga said. “This was a great game to prep us for (the postseason).”
Mona Shores finished the regular season with a 13-4-2 record. They will open Division 1 district play on Thursday against Forest Hills Northern, and they fully understand that it’s a brand new season, and one loss will end it.
“Northern is a quality team,” Darga said. “Their record doesn’t show it, but they are a good team.”
All around, hopes are high for the Sailors. Though the OK-Green is won, all eyes are on a long run in the state tournament.
“I think we can win it all!” Trautner said. “We played Rockford early on and barely lost, and I think we can totally dominate games like that.”