WHITEHALL – The Whitehall boys soccer team has hit rough spots before.
And anybody who pays attention knows it usually means nothing, because the Vikings have had a strong program for years, and that never seems to change.
Whitehall started the season with a 1-2 record but has rebounded with two wins and a tie in its last three games.
The Vikings’ lastest victory came on Wednesday with a hard-fought 3-1 win over Hart in a West Michigan Conference matchup on their home field.
Whitehall is now 3-2-1 overall and 2-0-1 in the conference standings.
“We played a tough schedule to begin the season, starting with some good competition in Big Rapids, Allendale, and Fruitport, and we continue that into conference play,” said Whitehall Coach Bryan Mahan. “The only way you grow is seeing your team compete and grind with these tough physical teams, and that’s what you saw tonight.”
Mahan is particularly pleased with his team’s defense, which gave up 12 goals in the first three games and only four in the last three.
That trend continued on Wednesday, as well, with the Vikings holding Hart to only three shots on goal in the second half.
“The boys adjusted at halftime and took control,” Mahan said. “We controlled possession, made better passes, communicated, and decided we weren’t going to let them push us around.”
The Vikings opened the scoring with 11:03 remaining in the first half on a penalty kick by Jack Houtteman.
Hart responded with 5:57 remaining in the half on a goal by senior Bryce Jorissen to make it a 1-1 game. Whitehall gained the upper hand for good with a goal by freshman Evan Jud with 3:59 remaining and led 2-1 at the break.
Whitehall sophomore Mason Mulnix scored the lone goal of the second half with about 16 minutes left in the game.
Whitehall goalie Andon Palmer had a very strong performance, stopping five of six Pirate shots.
Hart goalie Kyan Clark also played well, stopping six of nine shots.
The Pirates fell to 2-3-1 overall and 1-2-1 in conference play.
“We are playing good soccer right now, but the little mental mistakes are what we struggle with, and until you fix those you’ll continue to have the results we had tonight, and that’s not what we strive for,” said Hart Coach Joe Gilbert.