Reaching the conference finals was no easy feat for the Reeths-Puffer boys soccer team, but with some skillful tact and a strong, resilient mentality, the Rockets found themselves fighting for a championship trophy Monday evening.
Reeths-Puffer defeated visiting Zeeland, 2-1 in double-overtime, in the OK Green Conference tournament championship game at Eric Marcil Field. Ashton Carpenter tallied the game-winner on a laser into the top left corner of the net from about 25 yards with 2:48 remaining in the second OT to win it for the Rockets (10-5-4 overall, 5-3-1 OK Green).
It’s the second-straight dramatic win for R-P in the conference tourney, as the Rockets edged Holland in a 4-3 shootout last Thursday.
“It was really refreshing to see how hungry the boys were to come back (and face) another solid opponent in Zeeland East,” Reeths-Puffer coach Kody Harrell said.
Against Zeeland East (10-4-5, 4-2-3 OK Green), Reeths-Puffer hung around in the first half and trailed 1-0 at halftime thanks to a strong defensive performance and the goalkeeping of sophomore Gage Hopkins, who made some big saves.
The Rockets showed determination in the second half to battle their way back. Sophomore Liam Smith evened up the score at 1-1 with his 23rd goal of the season on a free kick. The momentum shift kept the Rockets in the fight until Carpenter buried the game-winner in the second overtime.
“We could have been satisfied with the huge win against Holland (last week), but we wanted more,” said Harrell, whose squad hosts Ludington in the first round of the Division 2 district tourney at 6 p.m. Wednesday. “That kind of determination is what can put you in the conversation for a district title.”
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