Cardinals boys soccer opens season with a 3-1 win over CSAA foe Newaygo

BRHS off to a good start to 2014 season with CSAA victory

BIG RAPIDS — The Big Rapids Cardinals boys soccer team kicked off its season with a victory on Friday with a 3-1 win at home over Central State Activities Association (CSAA) foe Newaygo.

The Cardinals (1-0, 1-0 CSAA) came out of the gates strong to start their season, with freshman forward Mason Gifford scoring less than three minutes into the contest on a rebound off a corner kick to give Big Rapids a 1-0 advantage.

DOWN THE MIDDLE: Big Rapids’ Scott Vander Sloot (center) tries to split through Newaygo’s Bodi Proatt (left) and Sean Karrip (right) during Friday’s Central State Activities Association (CSAA) boys soccer game at Big Rapids High School. The Cardinals came away with a 3-1 victory to open the 2014 season. (Pioneer photos/Daine Pavloski)

DOWN THE MIDDLE: Big Rapids’ Scott Vander Sloot (center) tries to split through Newaygo’s Bodi Proatt (left) and Sean Karrip (right) during Friday’s Central State Activities Association (CSAA) boys soccer game at Big Rapids High School. The Cardinals came away with a 3-1 victory to open the 2014 season. (Pioneer photos/Daine Pavloski)

“It was a tough one on the corner kick to give up for (Newaygo) I’m sure,” Big Rapids coach Justin Fox said. “We had pressure and got the rebound and I think that was one of the only rebounds the goalkeeper allowed all day, and we were able to put on pressure and put it in the back of the net.”

Less than a minute later, Newaygo let in an own goal to give the Cardinals a 2-0 advantage in a fast and furious first few minutes.

“We looked super in the first five minutes,” Fox said. “Once we got settled in and Newaygo got settled in it was kind of back and forth. It’s good to get off to a good start with a conference victory.”

Things settled down for the rest of the half as both teams battled to a stalemate, trading possessions down to the horn with Big Rapids holding a 2-0 lead as Newaygo’s goalkeeper kept the Cardinals out of the net.

“We had pressure for a majority of the first 15 minutes and their goalkeeper played well on stopping our shots,” Fox said. “Our shots were maybe from distance or not as strong as we wanted them to be, but he still stepped up and did well.”

The second half started off with more back-and-forth play until the 21:21 mark when Big Rapids’ Caleb Newlin sent a deep kick into the top-right corner of the goal to give the Cards a 3-0 lead.

Newaygo’s Ben Wolford finally snuck one past Big Rapids’ Ryan Mackall in goal with 9:35 left in the contest, making it 3-1, but the Cards protected the two-goal advantage until the final buzzer, capturing the conference win to start the 2014 season.

“I like how we looked for as little time as we get to practice before the start of matches,” Fox said. “I told the guys at the end that I liked the way that we talked on the field, we did a better job of that and that helps us move the ball around.

“I don’t know if I could pick a standout really,” he continued. “The young guys meshed well with the older guys and for the most part I liked the way we were knocking the ball around and keeping possession. For the most part, everyone did a pretty good job (Friday).

Fox was pleased with the Cardinals’ effort in the first game of the season, but he said there were definitely some things that his squad has to fine-tune as the year goes on.

“Our finishing wasn’t all that great,” he said. “We’d get the ball down there in the final third and we didn’t really know what to do. One time we had everyone crash into the net and no one was waiting up top, 20 yards out, to score. It’s just little things like that that we have to pay attention to those details.

“It was a good effort all around. Everyone played their part and did a pretty good job and learned what they needed to as the game went on. We got a little more comfortable I think, but for the most part it was pretty good stuff.”

The Cardinals return to action on Monday at Grant before returning home on Wednesday to take on Tri-County.

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