HUDSONVILLE – A cold, misty rain stopped in time for the opening kickoff at Hudsonville Friday night, but the championship reign of the East Kentwood girls soccer team in the O-K Red Conference is showing no signs of letting up.
The Falcons survived unscathed with a 1-0 victory against an upstart Hudsonville team to remain unbeaten on the season at 6-0-2 and 2-0 in the O-K Red.
“We knew this was going to be a war,” East Kentwood coach John Conlon said. “Hudsonville is a very good team and one of the most underrated teams this side of the state. They’ve competed with everybody they’ve played.
“This is a tough place to play,” Conlon added. “I felt like we won against a good team when we weren’t connecting.
“We’re happy to get out of here with a win.”
Hudsonville, which came into the game on a two-game winning streak, slipped to 2-5-1 overall and 0-2 in the O-K Red.
“We played a good game against them,” Hudsonville coach Mark Mulder said. “We played them straight up and played them the way we had to play, mostly at the midfield line.”
After banging a shot off the cross bar earlier in the first half, the Falcons finally connected following a point-blank save by Hudsonville goalkeeper Kayla Pouliot in the 32nd minute. East Kentwood’s Isabelle Leon got the loose rebound and drilled the ball into the back of the net to give the Falcons a 1-0 lead.
It was the only score of the game as Pouliot and East Kentwood goalkeeper Kara Scaturro held their ground and kept both teams at bay the rest of the way.
“Sometimes you have to grind out a game,” Conlon said. “This was a grind.
“This was a good win for us.”
The Falcons had a 14-3 shot advantage for the game after not allowing the Eagles a clear shot on net in the second half.
“We didn’t get the offensive push we’ve been working on,” Mulder said. “They took away our attack and cut out our tendencies of how we want to play the ball.”
East Kentwood’s experienced backfield of Scaturro and teammates Jewell Edwards, Kelsey Friberg, Lauren Millard, Kilee Lovelace and Casey Westveer have all been starting since their freshman seasons, and kept Hudsonville off the scoreboard, allowing the Falcons to record their sixth shutout of the season.
“Our back line is very strong,” Conlon said. “We have a lot of players with a lot of experience back there, and they play as a unified group.
“This team has bought into defending all over the field.”
The Eagles were also strong defensively, sparked by the play of defenders Sam Bravata and Jenny Winters, center midfielders Lauren Reminga and Michaela Kovacs and Pouliot in goal.
Hudsonville, which scored a total of 13 goals in its previous two wins, has losses to ranked teams Unity Christian, Rockford, Holland Christian, Gull Lake and East Kentwood. Four of those losses were by scores of 1-0.
“There hasn’t been a team we’ve played that hasn’t been a good game,” Mulder said. “Our early schedule was brutal and it helped prepare us for this game.
“We were in all those games and had the ability to win them. It just comes down to putting the ball in the net.”
Courtsy of MLive