MUSKEGON TOWNSHIP – When two good soccer teams go head-to-head, with good goalkeepers and good defenders, scoreless deadlocks are not uncommon.
And nobody comes away particularly happy.
That was the case on Saturday, when Reeths-Puffer and Fruitport met up at R-P, played 80 intense minutes and finished with a 0-0 tie in non-conference action.
Fruitport is now 7-2-2 on the season. The Trojans have been spinning their wheels a bit in the past few weeks, with one win, two losses and two ties since starting the season very hot with six straight wins.
The Trojans will have a big game on Tuesday when they host rival Spring Lake in O-K Blue conference action.
Reeths-Puffer, now 9-2-1, has also sputtered a bit in its last three outings, with a 1-1-1 record.
The Rockets, who lead the O-K Green conference, also have a big week ahead, visiting Zeeland East on Tuesday then hosting Zeeland West on Thursday in a key conference matchup.
Both teams would have loved to build a little momentum for the coming week with a victory on Saturday, but it wasn’t in the cards.
The Rockets came away a little frustrated after outshooting Fruitport 4-1 in the first half but failing to get a ball in the net.
Reeths-Puffer only had one shot on goal in the second half. R-P Coach Kody Harrell credited the Trojans with playing tough defense, particularly against scoring phenom Liam Smith, who recently became the school’s all-time goal leader.
“You could tell their game plan was to stop Liam and stop Puffer,” Harrell said. “I think just stopping us was a win. They did an amazing job with their game plan.”
Fruitport Coach Dan Hazekamp admitted the Trojans had a plan to limit Smith’s effectiveness, and he thought it worked well.
“We gave Liam Smith the Jordan treatment,” Hazekamp said. “He’s a superstar and deserves special attention. Our goal was to take away some of his freedom. I thought our guys who defended him did a really good job.”
Fruitport came away frustrated after building up its offensive attack throughout the game and producing some decent scoring chances down the stretch.
The Trojans only managed one shot on goal in the first half, with several others flying harmlessly to one side of the R-P goal or the other, or over the top.
Fruitport outshot the Rockets 4-1 in the second half, and applied some offensive pressure as the clock ran down, but again nothing found the mark.
“We had a couple good chances,” Hazekamp said. “We had some guys working it up front, and they did a great job of creating some opportunities, but we have to do a better job of finishing them.”
Harrell said he was nervous about Fruitport chipping in a fluke goal in the final minutes of the game.
“I was very nervous, thinking here comes that garbage rebound goal or hustle play,” he said. “Fruitport is a very disciplined team and works really hard.”