MONTAGUE — Montague enters the postseason as the #2 seed in its district, but the Wildcats still haven't totally shaken their penchant for struggling to put away teams that, on paper, they should.
Montague did hold on to beat Pentwater 4-3 Monday in its regular-season finale, but it wasn't easy. The game wasn't decided until a final Falcons' free kick sailed harmlessly into Ian Degen's gloves as time ran out.
"We are notorious for doing that," Montague coach Brandon Mahoney said ruefully. "We've done it for years, and in this season too, where we think it's going to be an easy game."
Montague (11-6-2) never trailed in the game, but it also didn't lead by more than a goal until 3:33 remained, when Lucas Husband seized the ball after his first attempt was saved by Falcon keeper Kaleb Brown and banged it past him to put his team up 4-2. And even then, Montague immediately allowed Pentwater's Will Werkema-Grondsma to knife through the defense for a goal just 13 seconds later.
"That shouldn't happen," Mahoney said. "It shouldn't. We've been a better team than that."
The Wildcats got off to a quick start when Zach Henderson got free from the Falcon defense for a goal less than five minutes in. Pentwater quickly got it back on a penalty shot after Montague was called for a foul in the box, but Henderson scored again late in the half to give the 'Cats the lead. Pentwater, though, tied it again just before halftime.
The second half was all Montague, as the ball was in Pentwater's end of the field almost the whole way. However, the 'Cats couldn't finish. Their only goal in the first 36:27 of the half was a penalty shot of their own, which Isaiah Morales converted. They did, however, hit the post at least four times with shots.
"We have to finish," Mahoney said. "You can't have teammates drive the ball down here, we cross it in, and it bounces around and we never finish it. Luckily, Lucas did finish that last one for us, and we got a PK, so we were able to get a win."
Next up for the 'Cats is the postseason, and Montague has the path it had hoped for, with the top seed Shelby on the opposite side of the bracket. The Wildcats face Manistee Wednesday and would likely be drawing Hart in the semifinals, both teams Montague has already defeated.
Mahoney obviously isn't taking anything for granted, though.
"It's going to be a tough match on Wednesday," Mahoney said. "There's no doubt. We may have beaten Manistee the first time we saw them, but we have to put together a much better game than we did today. And they know it. I don't have to sit there and lecture them on the bench. They know what happened...It'll be a challenge no matter how it shakes out for us."