NORTON SHORES – It might have been super rainy and slick, but weather conditions were not going to keep the Mona Shores soccer team from putting a finishing touch on a great conference season.
The Sailors played through the elements and went out and beat Grand Rapids Union 3-1 on Tuesday in the championship game of the O-K Green conference tournament.
The victory puts a cap on a perfect conference season for the Sailors, who were 7-0 in the regular season against conference foes, then won the tournament with victories over Muskegon (8-0), Holland (3-2) and then Union.
The Sailors were actually assured of the overall conference title going into the game, but all of those impressive victories deserved one more.
“We were led by some fantastic leaders and some fantastic seniors,” said Mona Shores first-year coach Bill Moulatsiotis. “By no stretch of the imagination did we think we would go undefeated in conference play, but we always had the goal of winning the O-K Green.”
The Sailors opened the scoring when senior Dan VanderPloeg faked out and got past the Union goalie and put the ball in the net with 18:46 remaining in the first half.
Senior Abe Freye added a goal with 3:55 left and Mona Shores led 2-0 at halftime.
Junior Easton Lopez tallied Mona Shores lone goal of the second half with 31:08 remaining to make it a 3-0 game.
Union got on the scoreboard later in the second half, but it was too little and too late for the visitors.
The constant rain and slick field could have made conditions perfect for some unexpected bounces and a potential upset – but it turns out the Sailors like playing in the rain.
Lopez said he actually checks the radar when rain is in the forecast because soggy weather “makes it more fun,” and the other two goal-scorers agreed.
“It’s always fun to play in the rain, and even better with the fans watching,” VanderPloeg said.
“It’s a good time and makes the game more intense,” Freye added.
Mona Shores goalie Dylan Bundy was perfect on the night, making 10 saves on 10 shots. He was relieved by Parker Rose, who had two saves on three shots.
Union had a 13-9 advantage in shots on goal.
The Sailors, now 14-1-3 overall, will move on to their next challenge – next week’s Division 1 district tournament.
Mona Shores will host either Hudsonville or Holland West Ottawa on Monday in the first round.