Dowagiac headed to finals
Published 3:31 am Friday, October 22, 2010
DOWAGIAC – A hat trick by Hazen McMeeken helped lift the Dowagiac soccer team into the Division 3 District Soccer championship match on Saturday.
The Chieftains survived a three-goal barrage by Hartford in a nine-minute span in the second half to escape with a 5-4 victory. Dowagiac had defeated the Indians 6-2 earlier in the year.
After taking a 3-1 halftime advantage on Hartford, Dowagiac scored on a Craig Zebell goal in the 45th minute to open up a 4-1 lead on the Indians.
Hartford came storming back with three consecutive goals over a nine-minute stretch to tie the game at 4-4 with 26 minute remaining.
Juan Lopez cut the lead to 4-2 with a goal in the 48th minute, while Juan Perez made it 4-3 in the 51st minute. Lopez then notched his second goal of the match three minutes later (54th) to square the match.
McMeeken, who had scored a pair of first half goals, knocked in the game-winner with 1:46 showing on the clock to advance the Chieftains to the finals where they will face Coloma, which defeated Cassopolis on Wednesday in the other semifinal, 2-1.
“We already knew they (Hartford) had the ability to come back seeing they were down 0-4 against Buchanan in the first round and came back to beat Buchanan,” Dowagiac coach Mike Williams said. “I warned them about that. Don’t let up because they will come back and get you and they came back hard.
“We just didn’t move the ball. We played kick ball. I said at the beginning that I didn’t want to play kick ball; move the soccer ball because they can beat us at kick ball and they almost did,” he added.
The Chieftains opened the scoring with a goal from Zebell in the sixth minute off an assist from Alvaro Scherer.
The Indians knotted the score at 1-1 with a goal by Perez in the eighth minute only to have Dowagiac reclaim the lead two minutes later (10th) on McMeeken’s first goal.
Neither team found the back of the net for the next 20-plus minutes as the ball went up and down the field with very few quality scoring chances.
The Chieftains opened up the second half with the quick score by Zebell, but then it fell back into playing Hartford’s style of soccer and the match quickly switched momentum.
After the Indians tied the match, Dowagiac regained its earlier form, had several solid chances to score goals that just missed the net.
In the end, the Chieftains went back to controlling the ball and eventually got the winner off the foot of McMeeken.
Dowagiac and Coloma, which faced each other earlier in the year with the Chieftains taking the 8-0 victory, will meet at noon on Saturday for the district title. The champion advances to the regional at Hope College.
Dowagiac 3, Hartford 1
D – Craig Zebell 6th minute (Alvaro Scherer assists)
H – Juan Perez 8th minute
D – Hazen McMeeken 10th minute (Zebell assist)
D – McMeeken 33rd minute (Zebell assist)
D – Zebell 45th minute (Scherer assist)
H – Juan Lopez 48th minute
H – Perez 51st minute
H – Lopez 54th minute
D – McMeeken 78th minute
Shots on goal
Dowagiac 2 (Jason Turner)