Cards get signature win

Big Rapids takes down Grand Rapids West Catholic, 2-0

BIG RAPIDS — Big Rapids boys soccer coach Justin Fox couldn’t quite understand his team’s thinking in the first half against Grand Rapids West Catholic.

So when halftime came, he had a discussion on how to fix the problem.

It seemed to do the trick.

The Cardinals were able to score twice in the second half to pull out a 2-0 victory over the Falcons on Saturday to improve to 11-4 on the season.

The first half saw Big Rapids play like it was trailing, trying to force the issue in an effort to get the equalizer goal. The problem was, the Cardinals and West Catholic were tied through the first 40 minutes of action.

FOOTWORK: Big Rapids’ Sam Miller (left) looks to keep the ball away from a West Catholic defender on Saturday. (Pioneer photo/Bob Allan)

Fox constantly told his team to settle down and possess the ball with no avail.

“I felt they were doing some things that they had no reason to,” Fox said. “I said at halftime, we didn’t play very well and it was still 0-0. We had to change the mindset. As rough as the first half was, it was still zeroes.”

Big Rapids finally was able to break through 12 minutes into the second half.

Scott Vander Sloot was able to gather the ball and fight off a pair of defenders and fire a shot past the Falcons keeper for a 1-0 lead.

“I got lucky that the guy fell off of me,” Vander Sloot said. “I had to slow down so I didn’t miss the net.”

For the next 25 minutes, both teams had opportunities to score, but both keepers were up to the task as the Cardinals kept the score at 1-0 until the final three minutes.

Big Rapids received a free kick from just inside the midfield line where Shawn Heroor sent a ball into the box. The ball, however, not only missed all of the intended targets, but also the West Catholic keeper as the ball trickled into the net for a 2-0 lead.

“I just tried to put a good ball (at net),” Heroor said. “Andrew (Klarecki) didn’t get there in time, but neither did the keeper.”

The victory comes off a tough three-game stretch in which Big Rapids faced some of the top teams in the state in Ludington, Whitehall and the Falcons.

The Cardinals went 1-2 in those games, but playing that level of competition will benefit the team at the end of the season.

“We knew this was gong to test our soccer skills and mentally,” Fox said. “It’s good to be finishing this on a high note.”

Big Rapids won the junior varsity contest 3-1.

The Cardinals are in action again Tuesday when they host Reed City to begin the second time through Central State Activities Association play.

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