Cougars step it up when it counts

Pivanti, Martinez provide scoring punch for Cougars in win over Pentwater

BIG RAPIDS — Ross Meads knew he would need some players to step up on Monday.

Crossroads Charter Academy’s soccer coach was faced with having to replace five players that were out for Monday’s contest against Pentwater, including a number of players that play a major role in the Cougars’ offensive production.

The Cougars got what they needed from their roster in a 3-2 win over Pentwater to improve to 11-2 on the season, while moving to 1-1 in West Michigan D League play.

“The key to a team is how they respond to adversity,” Meads said. “We had five guys suspended for disciplinary reasons and that hurts. You could tell in the flow of the game that wasn’t our normal style of play.”

BALL CONTROL: Crossroads’ Rene Pivanti (6) looks to elude a Pentwater defender during Monday’s high school soccer action. The Cougars defeated Pentwater, 3-2, to improve to 11-2 on the season. (Pioneer photo/Martin Slagter)

To get the most out of the offense, Meads moved defenseman Rene Pivanti, while Bruno Santos stepped in at midfield. Freshmen Temi Fadayomi and Ben Martinez also were thrust into playing starter’s minutes on Monday and responded well to the challenge, Meads said.

Martinez scored the first goal of the game from his left forward position with 28 minutes remaining in the first half to put CCA up 1-0.

The freshman also provided a cross on the Cougars’ second goal of the game by Pivanti, giving Crossroads some big minutes.

“(Martinez) took it down and provided a beautiful cross for the second goal,” he said. “I’m excited to see a freshman playing at that caliber.”

Pentwater evened the game up midway through the second half on a breakaway shot by Ryan Malburg to make it 1-1.

Pentwater coach Daniel Nugent said his team also was hampered by having its four starting defensemen out for Monday’s game, but he thought his team responded well to an explosive Cougar offense.

“They did a really good job,” he said. “We had a few guys back there playing defense that hadn’t played it until (Monday). I thought Erik (Wallstrom) had a big game for us, as well.”

After a solid start, the Cougars failed to put another goal on the board until just under 13 minutes remaining in the game when Martinez fired a cross that Pivanti collected and barely snuck past keeper Erik Wallstrom’s reach to make it 2-1.

The decision to move Pivanti up to midfield was more out of necessity than anything else, Meads said.

“I’d like to say it was a brilliant coaching decision to move Rene up front, but he was tired,” he said. “He’s such a smooth player.”

Pivanti gave the Cougars a cushion with 9:30 remaining when he split the Pentwater defense and fired a shot past Wallstrom to make it 3-1.

Pentwater added a goal with 4:15 remaining on a penalty kick by Tord Kvifte.

Meads said it is encouraging to see his team begin to make in-game adjustments like it did on Monday.

“One of the big difference is how quickly we’re adjusting to what the other team does,” he said. “That’s one of the fun things about sports — the other team is always different, so you have to make the adjustments to their strengths and weaknesses. A lot of times it would be halftime before our guys would do that, but now they’re doing it on their own.”

Crossroads is in action again at 5 p.m. on Thursday when the Cougars host McBain Northern Michigan Christian.

Visit the photo gallery to see more photos from this game.

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