Photos by Zach Zweigle | CatchMark
NORTH MUSKEGON — Twenty-eight seasons ago, Bryan Mahan began his career coaching boys soccer at Whitehall.
Thursday night, the longtime coach hit a milestone. Mahan reached win No. 350 in the Vikings’ 2-1 victory at North Muskegon in an intense West Michigan Conference battle at Fred Jacks Memorial Field.
The Vikings (6-8-1 overall, 4-1 WMC) capitalized on scoring opportunities early and held off the Norsemen (7-8-2, 2-2-2) in the second half to come away with a win in the rivalry.
“They were bigger, faster and stronger, but we just fought tonight,” Mahan proudly said.
The Norse controlled the majority of the second half offensively. However, the Vikings made some defensive adjustments and fought tooth and nail to keep their opponents at bay.
Mahan attributed the win to the defensive efforts in the second half.
“North Muskegon was working hard and making great runs, but we didn’t give them the easy shots,” he said.
Junior forward Jack McDowell’s tally in the first minute of the game on a feed by Jack Houtteman gave Whitehall the early momentum it needed.
He noted the Vikings’ late-game defensive approach as being the ultimate key.
“We did a great job at containing and tried to win every single ball we could get,” McDowell said.
Houtteman was quick to point out the “hype” for the Vikings leading up to the game.
“Coming out and scoring in the first 30 seconds … there is nothing like that” he said.
Alongside his big assist, Houtteman scored on a penalty kick later in the first half to give the Vikings the edge.
A 13-save performance from Whitehall freshman goalie Andon Palmer was much-needed as well.
“A freshman stepping up in this game, that was legit,” Mahan said. “He made some amazing saves, and he hung in there.”
North Muskegon’s goal was scored in the second half by Hunter Koekkoek.
Next, Whitehall hosts neighboring rival Montague on Tuesday. North Muskegon heads across the state for a match at Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett.
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