By Jason Wesseldyk
VICKSBURG—With his team’s regional semifinal game against Middleville still scoreless headed to double overtime, Plainwell girls soccer coach Garry Snyder wanted to give the Trojans their best chance to score.
“We decided to put Laken (Whittington), (Kayla) Baar and (Alayna) Eldred all up top, with (Gaby) Zugel and (Nikki) Faupel wide,” Snyder said. “We figured that would provide us with our best shot at creating some more scoring chances.”
That plan worked to perfection.
Eldred took possession of the ball before finding Baar, who was streaking down the left side. Baar then drove to the end line and turned, placing the ball to Whittington, who was positioned near the back post.
Whittington did the rest, nailing a header past the Middleville keeper to account for the game’s lone goal in the 1-0 win by Plainwell.
Snyder praised the grit displayed by his team throughout the contest.
“This was definitely a physical, hard-fought game,” he said. “But these girls maintained their composure from start to finish. I’ve seen a lot of maturity in the team how we have dealt with adversity.
“We don’t have captains, as all of the seniors have taken on that responsibility. And I couldn’t be prouder of them for the way they led this team and set the tone for us.”
Had the game remained scoreless through the second overtime period, the teams would have gone to a shootout to determine the winner.
“Our girls did a nice job of remaining positive and focused,” Snyder said. “We just needed to win a few more of those 50-50 balls and find that space to attack, but Middleville made it tough.
“Mentally, we were prepared (for the shootout) if it were to have come to that. But as I’ve mentioned before, those three up top for us (Whittington, Baar and Eldred) are super dangerous and I just had a feeling one of them would find a way to score for us.”
Snyder praised the support of the parents and other fans of the team.
“We appreciate all the positive support we’ve received from our parents, grandparents, student base and alumni,” he said.
Snyder also credited assistant coaches Derek Snyder and Stacy HenderShott for their contributions to the team’s success.
“Stacy and Derek have been great,” Garry Snyder said. “Both are very helpful, sharing great insight and having a lot of fun with the players.
“I think being Plainwell soccer alumni, they have additional passion for the team’s success. We definitely wouldn’t be where we are without their input.”