Allegan soccer falls in district final
This season has been one to remember for the Allegan boys’ soccer team.
In addition to securing the most wins in school history, the Tigers also had the program’s best record and had the longest stretch without a loss.
Unfortunately, Allegan was unable to add a district championship to the list of accolades as it dropped a 3-2 decision to Middleville in a Division 2 district final on Saturday, Oct. 19.
Despite the loss, second-year Allegan coach Aaron Rogers remained upbeat.
“It was a huge year for us,” Rogers said. “This has been a core group of boys working together for the past decade and it’s fun to watch them peak as a unit when they hit this level.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity to coach these boys and be a part of a tremendous soccer family here in Allegan. The support is unbelievable.”
Allegan’s supporters were out in full force for the district final, trying to will a comeback victory as the Tigers trailed 3-1 late in the second half.
Norwegian exchange student Ulrik Wingdingstad gave the Allegan faithful a glimmer of hope as he scored with 4:46 remaining to make it a one-goal deficit at 3-2.
And while the Tigers had chances to score the tying goal in the game’s waning minutes, they were never able to get the equalizer they needed.
The fact that Allegan fought hard to the end came as no surprise to Rogers.
“We’ve talked about the importance of being a full, 80-minute team all season,” he said. “One of our first conference games was against Edwardsburg and we trailed most of that game as well. In the final 10 minutes we saw our conditioning, positive mental drive and focus pay off as we came back for the win.
“It was a good lesson to keep driving forward no matter what. Didn’t get a call? Doesn’t matter, keep pushing forward. Missed a shot? Doesn’t matter, keep pushing forward. It is this mental mindset of being able to keep pushing forward that gives you these opportunities late in the game. While we didn’t capitalize this time, we certainly opened the door back up and that’s the lesson you take moving forward.”
Allegan trailed 1-0 at halftime before Kaleb Smith converted on a penalty kick less than three minutes into the second half to make it 1-1.Middleville retook the lead at 2-1 with 30:04 left to play before making it a two-goal advantage at 3-1 with 10:31 remaining, setting up the late comeback effort by the Tigers.
“(Middleville) came out aggressive and hungry from the first whistle,” Rogers said. “They played with heart and intensity and matched it with great organization from the coaching end. They were well connected, with great team awareness and an understanding of how to play within their strengths.
“While we struggled to shift our play to turf, they showed it was a strong suit of theirs, owning most of the possession and finishing some really top-notch goals.”
Allegan finished the season at 15-7-1, more than doubling the win total from last season’s 7-12-2 squad. The Tigers also finished second in the Wolverine Conference to Plainwell, who beat Allegan 1-0.
Though we fell short of winning both conference and districts by a single goal, we grew tremendously from last year,” Rogers said. “Next year I expect us to step up even higher. The bar is set high now and its up to the remaining boys to reach it.”
Allegan reached the finals thanks to a 6-2 win over Wayland.
The Tigers trailed 1-0 and 2-1 during the game, but scored the final five goals to pull away.
Wingdingstad and Mikhail Peters led the way with two goals each, while Nate Davis and Smith each had one. Smith also had two assists, with Davis and Josh Webb collecting one each.
Austin Corbett made seven saves in the winning effort.