MUSKEGON TOWNSHIP – The Oakridge boys soccer team has had its share of ups-and-downs over the past year.
Last season the Eagles lost a heartbreaker in an overtime shootout in the district championship game.
This season they started out extremely hot, winning 8 of their first 10 games, before cooling off and losing five of their last seven in the regular season.
Now the Eagles are soaring again, as they demonstrated on Saturday with an impressive 4-1 victory over Grand Rapids West Catholic in a Division 3 district title game at Orchard View High School.
It’s their second district championship in three years.
Oakridge, now 12-8-1 on the season, will play Paw Paw on Tuesday in the first round of regionals at Grand Rapids South Christian High School.
“I’m happy we’re district champs, and we will enjoy it for the next couple of days, but the next goal is to be regional champs,” said Oakridge standout Arturo Romero, who had two goals in the contest.
The Eagles opened the scoring with 29:46 remaining in the first half on a goal following a corner kick by sophomore Isaac Willard.
West Catholic got on the board about 11 minutes later on a goal by Martino Micheletii, and the score was 1-1 at halftime.
Oakridge took control with three goals in the second half.
Romero found the net with 19:48 remaining in the game, then again with 6:33 left on the clock. Zach Maitner capped things off with a goal with 15 seconds remaining, and the celebration was on.
“It’s very hard to get where we are,” said Oakridge coach Greg Fleener. “There are only 18 teams left (in the Division 3 state tournament) and we’re one of them.”
Fleener noted the trials his team has been through, but said his players hung in there and were rewarded in the end.
“We started off well, and as the season went on we hit some rough patches,” he said. “It doesn’t help when your two starting midfielders go out with injuries, but you adjust and you figure it out.
“We will let the boys enjoy and soak this in for the next couple of days, then on Monday we will go back to work and get ready.”