SHELBY — Shelby traditionally has given Whitehall a tough game in the West Michigan Conference, and Wednesday was no different, but the Vikings got it done in the end, scoring a 3-0 win to remain perfect in the WMC.
The contest was scoreless for most of the first half, but the Vikes (6-4, 3-0 WMC) got on the board before the break when Taden Brandel took a header from teammate Brendan Bentz off of a corner kick and scored. The bouncing ball barely beat Tigers’ keeper Ben Kelley past the end line and was ruled a goal. The Tigers later had a goal disallowed due to offsides.
Whitehall keeper Sam Stevens made a pair of impressive first-half saves on a Shelby breakaway. Vikes’ coach Bryan Mahan said Stevens is impressive against other teams’ breakaways because of his knack for forcing foes into bad angles.
“He is incredible one-on-one and with angles,” Mahan said of Stevens. “He gets out there and gets to the ball quickly and cleanly...He’s smart with angles. He’s very good at positioning. When they have breakaways, I don’t really worry when he’s coming out. I mean, of course I worry, but I know he’s going to make a great play on it.
“In the Fremont game (which Whitehall won), he made them miss the goal on breakaways. They had some nice breakaways, but his angles were so good that they flat-out missed the goal trying to get around him, because he played it so well.”
Whitehall dominated the second half of play, controlling the ball and the pace. Isaac Parmley added a goal off of a corner kick, and Bentz managed to find an angle to head the ball into the corner of the net shortly thereafter, essentially sealing the game.
The Vikings’ next WMC game will be their toughest: A trip to North Muskegon, which has bedeviled Whitehall in recent years. Mahan said he expects the game to be close, as almost all the teams’ meetings are.
“It looks like, based on scores I’ve seen, that it will be like always — it’ll either end up a tie, or someone will win by one on some crazy ball bouncing one way or the other,” Mahan said. “That’s what I hope, anyway. I’d like for them not to blow us out.”
The Vikings are still battling injury; Matthew Goodrich was next to the bench most of the game, still bothered by his back. Whitehall does have the advantage of five days off before the matchup with the Norsemen.
“We just have to get healthier,” Mahan said. “That’s what’s keeping us down. The injuries are keeping us from being at full strength. We’re doing an amazing job. The guys are fighting for everything. The injuries just make it harder.”
WHITEHALL — Whitehall picked up a West Michigan Conference win over Ravenna Monday, by a 5-1 score.
Whitehall played a solid second half in the victory and got two goals from Taden Brandel to lead the offense. Jack Houtteman passed out two assists.
“In the second half, we came out a lot more aggressive with possession, and that helped us move the ball up,” Whitehall coach Bryan Mahan said. “That Ravenna team didn’t give up. They didn’t stop. They kept going the whole time. They had a lot of fight in them and that was good.”