Three Rivers blanks Dowagiac in district finals

NILES — Wolverine Conference foe Three Rivers ended the district championship dreams of the Dowagiac soccer team at Brandywine High School Thursday night.

The Wildcats scored a pair of first-half goals en route to a 5-0 win over the Chieftains in the Division 3 District championship match.

Torrie Towles and Summer Morrill scored in the opening half for Three Rivers, with Alivia Knapp assisting on both goals.

Dowagiac got off to a quick start with a shot on goal early on, but then things started to spin out of control for the Chieftains.

After the early scoring chance, Towles scored with 33:34 remaining in the first half to stake the Wildcats to the 1-0 lead. Dowagiac would then lose All-Wolverine Conference pick, senior Allie Conner, to a leg injury. Conner would not return.

“It was a little bit like quicksand,” said Dowagiac Coach Chad Davis. “One thing went wrong, and then another thing. We got deeper and deeper into a hole like with quicksand. We were struggling to get back out of it.”

Things did not get better for the Chieftains in the final 40 minutes of the match as Thalia Lara and Jesse Davis head-butted each other going after a ball, leaving Lara with a cut and a potential concussion. She did not return.

The Wildcats took advantage of Dowagiac’s misfortune with three second-half goals.

Morrill scored twice to give her a hat trick, while Towles picked up her second goal of the match. Knapp earned her third assist of the match on the Towles goal, while Alyx Wheat picked up the assist of the opening goal of the second half by Morrill.

Davis said his team had its moments, while at other times, it struggled.

“We kind of lost our way a few times because we had to move some girls around due to the injuries,” he said. “I did not think we were outmatched. I thought we could play with them, but we had a couple of mental breakdowns, which cost us a couple of goals.”

Due to COVID, the Chieftains and Wildcats did not play their regular season Wolverine Conference match. Davis would have liked to have seen Three Rivers in person prior to playing them in the district tournament.

“I kind of eyeball them a little bit online,” he said. “I knew they like to play through Towles and Morrill. They have some solid players over there. We want to get to where they are as a team. It seems like they are always in the middle of the conference race.”

Despite the loss, Davis was pleased with his team’s effort, not only on Thursday but also throughout the season. Dowagiac, like many other schools, had to deal with COVID issues and injuries, but were able to finish the year with a winning record (8-7-1).

“Two years ago, we had four wins,” he said. “We are turning the program around. The girls did a nice job of responding after taking a year off. Making it to this game was big for our program. Hopefully, we will be able to get the numbers back up.”

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