TRAVERSE CITY — Grayling’s boys soccer team saw its season come to an abrupt end Monday night when Traverse City Christian registered a 6-0 victory over the Vikings in a district semifinal game at the Keystone Soccer Complex in Traverse City.
It snapped a three-game winning streak for the Vikings, who finished the year with a 12-5-2 record. The Sabres improved to 16-2-2 with their fifth straight win.
Henry Reineck scored four goals and Luke Montney and Preston Jaworski each scored a goal as the Sabres advanced to the district final against Elk Rapids on Wednesday.
Elk Rapids rolled over Cheboygan, 7-0 in the other semifinal Monday night setting up a neutral site championship game at Boyne Mountain Soccer Complex. The Elks defeated the Sabres, 2-0 earlier this year.
“We knew they were tough, and I think we thought we had something for them,” Grayling head coach Andy Moore said. “We seemed pretty confident going in.”
But, we gave up three goals in the first nine minutes and that was writing on the wall there. We dug a hole and couldn’t recover.”
The Vikings had some chances in the first 10 minutes, but nothing materialized in the way of a strong threat, and the Sabres dominated the play early.
Moore said the Vikings were a little off balance most of the night, and that contributed to their troubles getting something going offensively.
“When I watch game film, the stuff I look to teach our team in the future is the ball possession that they have,” Moore added. “At times, they possessed the ball so well that we tended to run around a chase a little when we don’t need to. They’re a great team.”
“At the beginning of the season we set goals to win districts, and I thought last Thursday against Boyne we played well enough to compete for the district title.
“But, there’s days when you don’t have it, and that was use last night.”
The Elks are losing nine seniors off this year’s team, eight of whom have played together and been part of a team since youth soccer.
Obviously, they’ll be missed.
Seven players are returning, and fortunately in the COVID-19 pandemic they all saw plenty of playing time on the pitch.Moore has also four or five in-coming freshmen who are currently playing in the youth program.
“Hopefully, we’ll get four or five (foreign) exchange students that we always get, except for this COVID year,” Moore said. “We’ll be okay next year. We’ll have a small bench again. But, we’ll make things work.”