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Varsity Soccer Wins Regional Championship 1-0 Over Lansing Christian

By Matthew Streicher, for The Alcove Student Newspaper

Out of 105 teams at the beginning of the boys soccer postseason, there are now four left. And after Thursday night’s win in Lansing, the varsity boys team is one of them, punching a ticket to the state semifinals, and taking home their second trophy of the postseason.

The mindset of the team headed into the game was heavily based on confidence, excitement, and anticipation. The team met the end of last year’s season in a penalty shootout in the regional semifinals.

“We’re so excited for this game. We’re so ready,” said junior Dom Schuster before the game. “We lost last year in a penalty shootout in [regional] semifinals, so after winning that [regional semifinal] game this year, we know now. This is our year.”

That feeling of confidence was very evidently shared by the entire team, not just Schuster.

“We’ve been practicing for months on end, and there is no doubt in my mind that we are going to play our hearts out today.” said Lachlan Rae ‘24 before the game.

“Last game put it into perspective that we can win against anyone.” said senior captain Tom Lucas.

The game started with an electricity in the air, as it was a home game for the Lansing Christian Pilgrims, and the stands were packed to their capacity with parents, students, and teachers. Even standing room was needed to accommodate the rush of fans. In the first half, the teams were just feeling one another out, going back and forth with some pickiness of shots.

In the final 10 minutes of the half, Michael Zheng ‘24 picked the pocket of one of the Pilgrim defensemen, and had a glorious chance to score, but fired it just over the net. The half then ended scoreless.

The boys soccer team at halftime of the regional semifinals.

The second half had an immediate shift in play. From the first touch, the Pilgrims struggled keeping shots away from their keeper, and the Gryphons took advantage of it, drawing penalty after penalty and getting six corner kicks in the second half alone.

Before the game, coach Greg Huntoon gave a prediction for which player would score the first goal: “I’d say JD will score the first one.”

And he was correct. At 16:07 of the second half, junior JD Hatch scored the first goal of the game, off of a high corner kick that bounced around the mass of players and straight to him, blasting it in for the Gryphon’s only goal of the game.

After that point, panic and desperation set in for Lansing Christian. They held the ball in the Gryphon defensive zone for almost 10 of the final 15 minutes of the game, but numerous amazing saves by goalkeeper Etienne Rouillard closed the pilgrims out. Rouillard still has yet to allow a goal in the postseason, backstopping all four wins for the team.

At the sound of the final horn, the Gryphons cleared the bench and charged the field, surrounding Rouillard, a huge mass of bodies cheering about their earned trip to the State Semifinals. Head coach Lucian Popescu accepted the trophy, handing it over to the team immediately, solidifying the squad as regional champions.

“It feels amazing,” said senior Raj Tiller. “We’re one of four teams left out of 105; we knew we could do this.”

The team has to turn around quickly, because on Wednesday, November 2 they take on Plymouth Christian Academy in the state semifinals, returning for the first time since 2018. They will be playing for a state championship berth on the line.

“They wrote us off, but we didn’t write back. And look at us now.” said Schuster.​

Saturday, April 24
Open to anyone ages 16 and up. Limited quantities available.
Greenhills is closed for mid-winter break and will return on Tuesday, Feb. 22.

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