The Grand Rapids Community College men’s soccer team appeared in their first ever National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) regional tournament appearance and went 1-1, beating No. 2 ranked Muskegon Community College 2-0, while losing to No. 1 ranked Schoolcraft 3-1.
The Raiders got off to a slow start against the Jayhawks as freshman winger Nikolas Schumaker received a yellow card within the first eight minutes. Freshman striker Elijah Maas had an early opportunity to score for the Raiders but his shot was saved by the MCC goalie.
Both teams struggled to get shot opportunities throughout the first half, but freshman goalkeeper Daniel Beyer made sure the Jayhawks were scoreless. He had three saves in the first half allowing the Raiders to stay within striking distance.
Schumacher had an opportunity to give the Raiders the lead right before halftime but the MCC goalie made another save, keeping the score at 0-0. In the first half, GRCC had eight total shots compared to the Jayhawks’ six while they had the same amount of saves.
However, the vibe shifted in the second half as the Raiders scored two goals within the first 15 minutes. Freshman winger Lucas Freriks scored off of an assist from freshman striker Mohamed Tamour. Minutes later, Beyer made an impressive save which led to an immediate goal by the Raiders. Tamour was able to thread the defense off of an assist from Maas.
There were a handful of yellow cards that followed as both teams ramped up their intensity. Beyer racked up three more saves to end the game and complete the shutout. GRCC defeated MCC by a score of 2-0 to advance to the Regional final against Schoolcraft College.
In the third meeting between GRCC and the No. 6 ranked team in NJCAA Division II rankings, the Raiders looked to get revenge on their previous loss against the Ocelots.
GRCC came right out and looked to score as Tamour had a shot on goal in the first 30 seconds but the Ocelots goalie made the save. After this shot, each team struggled to get a shot on goal as both defenses were locking up the attack.
At the 30-minute mark, Beyer made his first save of the game which led to a pivotal moment for the Raiders. Freshman defender Xander Fredericksen scored the first goal of the game off of an assist from Maas and Freriks. Beyer responded with multiple saves and the Raiders ended the half with a 1-0 lead.
In the second half, GRCC struggled to contain the Ocelots’ offense as they scored in the first minute. Beyer continued to impress as he made multiple saves right after their first goal. Midway through the half, Schoolcraft scored again which put the Raiders at a disadvantage for the rest of the game. The Raiders struggled playing from behind which led to multiple yellow cards and another Schoolcraft goal.
Down two goals, the Raiders needed to get more shot opportunities but the Ocelot defense did a great job restricting the GRCC offense. The Raiders only had one more shot which was saved by the Schoolcraft goalie. Schoolcraft defeated GRCC by a score of 3-1.
Three Raiders earned All-Region team including Fredericksen, Freriks, and Maas.
GRCC sits at 13-4-1 on the season and awaits a decision by the NJCAA to determine whether they get an at-large bid for the national tournament game.