PENTWATER — No team ever wants to see its season end, but the Pentwater Falcons certainly went out on one of their higher notes Wednesday night, battling a solid Lakeview squad all the way to the end before falling 3-2.
The Falcons got off to a slow start, allowing a goal just over two minutes into the game and another with 22 minutes to go in the first half, but after that played a largely even game with the Wildcats and arguably outplayed them at times.
“The biggest thing we tried to preach all year long is finishing a game, and they did,” Pentwater coach Steve Rossiter said. “They kept pushing, pushing, pushing, kept trying to look for opportunities, and didn’t let themselves get down.
“Because I had a couple of injuries, we had six eighth-graders on the field at one time (in the second half). To see what we were able to do with those guys and our veteran guys, it was just great...It’s just the heart these kids have. We might not be up to their talent, but our heart, I think, far exceeds most of the teams we play.”
One of those eighth-graders was leading scorer Will Grondsma, who got the Falcons on the board with 16 minutes to go in the opening half by sneaking in between a couple of Lakeview defenders and sending a ball through for a goal. Grondsma doesn’t look like an eighth-grader — he’s one of the taller and bigger players on the team — and he certainly doesn’t play like one. So impressive is Grondsma that he was named a team captain this year.
“It’s a blessing to say I’m able to coach that kid for five years,” Rossiter said. “He’s an eighth-grader as far as school goes, but he’s a born leader...He knows the game. He gets kids talking. He does the things a captain needs to do. It was a very easy choice to make him a leader on the team and let him run the team.”
The Falcons made a rush at the net late in the first half, and Tyler Plummer-Eisenlohr hit the crossbar with a shot in the final minute. Plummer-Eisenlohr got his goal, though, in the second half by looping a long shot into the net, cutting Lakeview’s lead to 3-2.
From that point, the Falcons largely controlled the action, although they weren’t able to get clear shots on the net.
“They tried and tried and tried and just did everything they could to try to make this game knotted up 3-3,” Rossiter said. “We can’t be more proud of what they did tonight.”
And while young teams can occasionally be a common theme at smaller schools like Pentwater, with participation sometimes dropping in later years, Rossiter doesn’t foresee that issue befalling his talented group of eighth-graders, who made up half the team’s roster this year.
“With our hybrid schedule (this year), they have Wednesdays off. We got kind of mad about it last week, because they played basketball together for four hours before practice, and we came to practice a little dead. They’re a very competitive group, just competitive amongst themselves. They always want to be playing something.
“We ended our regular season 5-4. I don’t think that’s been done here for a few years. To do that with the young team we have, I think it will only encourage more people to come out and take a chance.”