LAKEVIEW — For nearly 70 minutes, the Lakeview Wildcats and Big Rapids Cardinals battled to a scoreless tie.
Unfortunately for the Wildcats, the Cardinals would score twice in an 8:42 time frame to earn a 2-0 CSAA road win Tuesday evening. The Cardinals (9-4-1, 4-0) are now in the drivers seat to win the league championship.
With just 11:46 remaining in the game, Big Rapids junior Scott Vander Sloot found the back of the net with a kick to the right corner of the goal past a diving Lucas Sweet.
“It was getting later and later, I knew whoever got the first goal was going to be huge,” Lakeview coach Chris Smith said.
With the Wildcats pressing, Vander Sloot again found the back of the net with 3:04 remaining. This goal sealed the Cardinals win.
“I didn’t see the first goal develop, but he (Vander Sloot) finished with a nice shot at the end to the far corner,” Smith said. “Probably, if the first goal doesn’t happen, we don’t give up the second goal. I give them credit, they finished.”
Big Rapids coach Justin Fox said his team communicated better late in the second half.
“I think we were a little more patient and communicated with one another better,” he said. “I think in the build up you would hear guys calling for where they wanted the ball a little more and working hard to get in that space, instead of expecting the ball played to them.”
The loss knocks Lakeview (4-6, 2-2), barring an upset or two, from a chance at the league title.
“It’s disappointing, but I thought both times we played Big Rapids they were even matches,” Smith said. “A couple of scoring chances here and there would have been nice, but.”
The first half saw scoring chances for both teams, but no goals.
“I thought our guys worked really hard together as a team today,” Smith said. “The first 70 minutes I thought was pretty even. I thought we had a lot of scoring chances today, but could not get a goal to go.”
Fox said his team was fortunate it was scoreless after 40 minutes.
“Lakeview played solid defense and didn’t give us anything easy, “Big Rapids coach Justin Fox said. “They really won a lot of the balls that we either expected win or thought didn’t work too hard to win. We were fortunate to get out of the first half 0-0.”
Big Rapids will travel to Whitehall on Thursday, while the Wildcats travel to Alma on Friday.