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Big second half keeps Shelby unbeaten in hunt for conference soccer title

Tigers shut out Montague, will host North Muskegon in key conference match next week.

Photos by Jen Mahoney

Shelby’s boys soccer team maintained its position atop the West Michigan Conference standings with a hard-fought 3-0 victory Monday over visiting Montague.

After a scoreless first half, the Tigers (7-2-1 overall, 3-0 WMC) turned up the pressure in the second half against the Wildcats (6-3-1, 1-1-1) and scored three goals en route to the victory.

Shelby hosts fellow conference-title contender North Muskegon at 5:30 p.m. next Tuesday.

A halftime talk by Shelby coach Jairo Coronado got the Tigers on track in the second half against Montague.

“We talked about how important winning the game was and that we had to stay calm and start having fun,” Coronado said.

“From the beginning of the second half, we started to win every 50-50 ball, and our passing game was much better. Our offense was led by Ryan Jenkins, Ricardo Bahena and Mason Garcia; they each scored a goal and were able to create dangerous plays every time they had the ball.”

Coronado said the Tigers relied on their “pass-run, pass-run game” in the second half to spark their offense.

Shelby’s plan came to fruition when Jenkins scored the first goal. Shortly after, Bahena contributed to the momentum as he buried a goal on a long pass from the sideline. Garcia polished off the win with the Tigers’ third goal, which came on a penalty kick late in the game.

“Joseph Hayes and Gabriel Gonzalez were able to distribute the ball very well to start our offensive plays,” Coronado said.

Montague’s stamina was depleted as Shelby’s speed made a difference in the second half.

Coronado also highlighted the play of defenders Mauricio Castillo, Riley Garcia, Erick Valenzuela, Carson Claeys and Bishop Lee. He said they worked together to allow only four shots on goal. Shelby keeper Bishop Lee added four saves on the evening.

This may not be the last time these teams meet. Montague and Shelby could square off again in the district tournament later this season.

Lead writer for CatchMark SportsNet and Web Services leader for CatchMark Technologies.

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