Mother Nature turned out to be a good friend to the Fruitport boys soccer team.
After winning a district championship on Saturday, the Trojans made the long trip north to Gaylord on Tuesday to play Marquette in the first round of Division 2 regionals.
The Trojans did not play their best soccer in the first half, and the score was 0-0 at halftime. About three minutes into the second half the sight of lighting forced play to be suspended for about 90 long minutes.
Surprisingly, Fruitport played better after the long break, scored twice within the final 11 minutes, and posted an exciting 2-0 victory.
Sophomore Jorge Burgos-Yack led the way with a goal and an assist while goalie Logan Werschem collected another shutout.
The Trojans (18-2-3) now advance to play Grand Rapids Christian (15-5-2) in the regional championship game at Cedar Springs High School on Thursday at 5 p.m. The regional title game is also the Division 2 state quarterfinals, and the winner will advance to the semifinals.
While some teams may have trouble staying focused during a long weather break, the opposite was true for the Trojans, according to head coach Dan Hazekamp.
“We played a little tight in the first half,” Hazekamp said. “We were pressing a little bit, and not really playing our brand of soccer.
“Then we went into the weather delay, had a good conversation as a team, and found a way to relax. We listened to a little bit of music, had a little dance party in the locker room, and came back out a little more relaxed. It made a big difference.”
Burgos-Yack broke the deadlock when he took advantage of some sloppy defensive play and scored from close range with 10:29 left on the clock.
The Trojans added a goal with 8:51 left when Burgos-Yack brought the ball up the sideline, cut in, beat a defender and sent a well-placed pass across the Marquette box. Ryder Merkins crashed in and put the ball in the net, giving Fruitport its final margin of victory.
Fruitport had a 9-4 advantage in shots on goal.
The victory kept two amazing Fruitport streaks alive and well. The Trojans have not been beaten in 14 games and have not given up a goal in an incredible 13 games.
While they are happy with everything they’ve done so far, the Trojans are eager to keep the train rolling, according to their coach.
“It’s been a tremendous season,” Hazekamp said. “The guys continue to persevere through sometimes tough circumstances. It’s a great accomplishment, but we’re setting our sights on the next step. We are excited but not content yet. We want to keep pushing to reach new heights.”
Hazekamp credited defenders Isaiah Packard and Braxton Ward and midfielder Davis Johnson for strong play, and added that the entire team played a role in the win.
“The guys on the bench were locked in and pulling for their teammates hard, and I think the guys on the field fed off that,” he said.
The coach also saluted the big crowd of Fruitport fans who made the very long drive and stuck around through the weather delay.
“We probably had three or four times as many fans as they did, and I think the team fed off that energy, too,” Hazekamp said.
Grand Rapids Christian, Thursday’s opponent, is a traditional soccer power and will pose a real challenge, according to Hazekamp. But the Trojans are used to facing big challenges and will be ready, he said.
“They are extremely talented, really technical, and they have a great soccer tradition,” Hazekamp said. “Their program has produced a lot of deep runs in the tournament. We respect everybody, but we’re not scared of anyone.