North Muskegon’s girls soccer team was known as a goal-scoring machine in its Division 4 state title run last season.
The Norse still have some players who can put the ball in the back of the net, but defense and goalkeeping wins in state tournament time and that’s what they’re getting in their current run.
With sophomore Emma Lamiman in goal, North Muskegon posted its third shutout in as many tournament games with a 2-0 victory over Grand Rapids Covenant Christian in a Division 4 regional semifinal Tuesday night in Cadillac.
That’s five straight shutouts for Lamiman and the Norse defense, seven in the last eight matches and 13 in 19 contests this season.
Fourth-ranked North Muskegon (15-3-1) will face sixth-ranked Harbor Springs (14-7-1) in the regional finals at 6 p.m. Thursday at Rotary Club Field in Cadillac. Harbor Springs won at North Muskegon, 2-1, on April 16. On Tuesday, Harbor Springs blanked McBain Northern Michigan Christian, 3-0.
Behind a strong defense anchored by senior captain Grace Vander Woude, sophomore Kennedi Koekkoek and sophomore midfielder Katie Kinahan, Lamiman rose to the occasion against Covenant Christian (9-9-1). Two of her saves in particular were crucial: The first on a penalty shot early in the game and second on a breakaway in the second half.
“Player of the game for sure,” Parnin said about Lamiman. “She picked a good time (to step up). Unbelievable.
“She looked confident, she looked poised, she was aggressive, communicative.”
Junior Sam Johnson scored 15 minutes into the match on an assist by junior Jaley Schultz.
The Norse added an insurance goal with about four minutes left, when sophomore Izzy DeJonge tallied on a feed by Johnson.
“Izzy had a beautiful shot – beautiful. Upper 90, left far bar. It was great,” Parnin said.
Lamiman was the backup to all-state keeper Syann Fairfield last season. Lamiman got some starts early in the 2021 campaign when Fairfield was nursing an injury.
During a state tournament run, different players are going to have to step up in different moments. On Tuesday, it was Lamiman’s time.
Parnin estimated that Covenant Christian had five or six quality chances that Lamiman turned away.
“I think she was 100 percent the difference in the game,” Parnin said. “They had chances for sure and we were able to convert some chances, and defense and goalkeeper played out of their mind.
“Girls were really charging her, playing aggressive on her, but she came up big, man. It was huge.”
North Muskegon was expecting to see No. 12 Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian in the regional, but Covenant Christian knocked off NorthPointe in the district final Saturday.
North Muskegon defeated Covenant Christian in the regular season, 3-0 on April 26, but Parnin said the Chargers looked like a different team this time around.
“I would say the last couple of games, we’ve kind of gotten away from what we’ve done, what’s made us successful – we’ve gotten away from it a little bit,” Parnin said. “We need a little bit of a come-back-to-who-we-are kind of thing. It’s not an effort thing, it’s more of an impatience and tactical (thing), better decision-making, maybe in a bit of a hurry. We’re going to get it figured out.
“We’d like to see a little bit more possession out of our team. But, you know what, we’ll take it. Survive and advance and, oh, my gosh, we advanced and we survived.”
Graphic by Amy Yonkman | CatchMark
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