CEDAR SPRINGS –South Christian soccer coach Brian Broekhuizen broke the bad news to the Sailors after Tuesday night’s Division 3 state semifinal game.
“The bad news is that we have practice tomorrow,” Broekhuizen told the Sailors during their postgame huddle.
Ironically, that was the good news, too.
South Christian will practice because it has one more game to play after defeating Boyne City 2-0 at Cedar Springs High School. The win sends the No. 3 ranked Sailors to Friday’s 1 p.m. state championship game at Michigan State University’s DeMartin Soccer Complex. South Christian will play No. 7 Essexville Garber, which defeated Warren Regina 1-0 Tuesday.
The Sailors have advanced to the finals for the first time since 2013 when South Christian defeated Pontiac Notre Dame Prep to win the title. South Christian goalkeeper Annika Zuverink remembers it well because her sister Ashley was on that team.
Each player had two names written on their hands Tuesday. One was the name of a South Christian teammate, and the other name was of someone who has inspired them.
Zuverink had Ashley spelled out on her hand.
“I picked my sister because she was on the state championship in 2013,” Zuverink said. “I really want to share that memory with her, and that’s something that I think will be really cool to have in common.”
Zuverink has played a key role in South Christian’s run to the finals. Zuverink hasn’t given up a goal in the state tournament as the Sailors have outscored their opponents by a combined score of 20-0 in their six games.
Joz VanTol and Savannah Bosselaar provided the scoring Tuesday. VanTol’s first-half goal gave the Sailors a 1-0 halftime lead, and Bosselaar added an insurance goal in the second.
“It was typical Joz,” Broekhuizen said. “She throws her body at everything. She got the ball, got it forward, got it back, keeps pushing and finally got it into the goal. It wasn’t a pretty goal in terms of the shot, but it was a beautiful goal because of her effort.”
The win improved South Christian’s record to 19-3-3, with its latest winning coming against the state’s eighth-ranked team.
“They never stopped working,” South Christian senior Caitlin Bergsma said. “They made us want to play fast. Sometimes teams back off. We haven’t had a challenge like that in awhile.”
Boyne City was playing for its first trip to the finals. The future does look bright for the Ramblers, who have nine sophomores on the team.
“This season was one of those seasons where these girls were tough, they never gave up,” Ramblers coach Ed Fantozzi said. “The Freeland game, they never gave up. Freeland was a lot different than this. The physical part didn’t come into it as much as this one. That’s why that result was much different. Next year these girls are going to be juniors. Eight of the starters will be juniors. It’s bright skies ahead.
“South Christian is a great program, and they have 12 seniors. And look at who they play. Even the games they lost, the results were positive. They lost to some really big Division 1 schools.”
Broekhuizen said maybe the best thing about Tuesday’s win is that team gets to hang out together for three more days.
“This group, I said from the beginning, it’s special, not just for their love of the game and the way they prepare, and technically, they are really good players,” Brokehuizen said. “But the chemistry piece is just fantastic. They take care of each other. Every day we play for each other. It makes it easy to coach them.”