FHE soccer victory no walk in Parks
Saturday, November 05, 2005 Grand Rapids Press
By Dean Holzwarth (who also wrote the Kalamazoo Gazette article)
GRANDVILLE -- It was a walk in the Parks for the Forest Hills Eastern boys soccer team in the first 20 minutes of Friday's Division 3 regional title game. Sophomore Eric Parks notched three early goals, but the Hawks had to withstand a furious late-game rally from Parchment to extend their season. The Hawks survived to earn a 4-3 win over the Panthers at Morren Memorial Field, and in the process claimed their first regional championship in school history.
In a matter of two weeks, the second-year program has won district and regional titles en route to a spot in the Division 3 state semifinals. Forest Hills Eastern (14-8-3) will meet either Elk Rapids or Shelby at 7 p.m. on Wednesday at Shelby High School. "It's unbelievable," Hawks coach Matt Roberts said. "Nobody expected this out of us. We were really confident coming into the tournament and we really did think that we had a shot to make a run."
Parks set the tone by scoring twice in the first 10 minutes. He boomed a shot that dribbled under Parchment keeper Eric Brusse's legs for the first tally and then converted a rebound off a shot from teammate Eric Fish that caromed off the post. Parks took advantage of another rebound in front of the net and FHE had a seemingly comfortable 3-0 lead. "Coach said that we had to come out strong right from the beginning," Parks said. "We had to put them away early and I just tried to do that. The goals weren't anything special. I shot the first one and hoped for the best and then got rebounds on the next two."
After staking FHE to the lead, Parks left the game moments later after a collision near midfield. He missed the rest of game with a hyper-extended knee. "It's feeling pretty good right now," Parks said afterward. "I'll be fine for the next game." Forest Hills Eastern senior Zak Zeoli added another goal just four minutes into the second half to make it 4-0, but Parchment refused to go away.
A goal from Alex Wolf and back-to-back tallies from Cory Verdon gave the momentum to Parchment as it trailed by only one (4-3) with 6:03 remaining in regulation. "We started playing a little more defensive and I think it was because we're a young team," Roberts said. "A lot of the guys in our back line are sophomores and freshmen, and they don't react to situations the same way as juniors and seniors do sometimes. "There were a lot of anxious moments obviously (at the end), but I had full faith in our defense and (goalie) Ross (Peterson) to get it done." First-year Parchment coach Tom Nesbitt, whose team closed with a 14-6-2 mark, said his Panthers hadn't faced a deficit like that in nearly a month.
"We hadn't played from behind in the past 11 games, and it was like they didn't know how to do it," Nesbitt said. "But these guys never quit and they had a never-say-die attitude. We weren't even expected to be in this game, so I was very proud of them."
CLICK HERE FOR MORE PICTURES FROM THE GAME.
Coach T's : FUN! I had FUN! Or as Captain Kirk said with his dying breath, "It was FUN!". And I'm not just talking about this game. I'm talking about the entire season. I could write a paragraph about each and everyone of the P-Town "soccer" Panthers but in the end there would be one common theme throughout and that would be FUN! Each and every one of you was a joy to watch this year. From the 1-1 Tri-Unity battle, to the 6-4 Gobles shootout, the thunderstorm at GL, the tough 1 goal loss to Otsego followed by P-town winning 9 out of the next 10 games. It was FUN! Even today's game in which the first half was, well, not too memorable, turned into yet another FUN game when our lovable Panthers nearly pulled off the impossible by scoring 2 goals in the last 15 minutes and coming OH OH OH so close on several possessions to scoring that elusive 4th goal. In the end the Panthers had plenty of gas left in the tank and plenty of heart but father time had other ideas and decided the outcome of the game by clicking down to zeros when our Panthers looked ready to play and play until dark (hmmm, I wonder when that happened last?). I'll tell you what though. You have to give the Hawks their props too. They had just enough left in the tank to escape with a 4-3 victory. They did a nice job of controling the tempo in the first half, and they did a nice job of holding on (literally) in the second half. Way to go Hawks and good luck in the semis. Hawk fans, you, on the other hand, are a completely different story that I will save for another web page. There were a couple plays today that I thought typified the heart and soul of this P-town squad. Mikey, your timing couldn't have been better on that possession when you ran right through that Hawk striker in route to catching your yellow cab to the bench. SCHWEEET!! Hey, the refs set the tempo and you were simply making a statement that P-town was not going quietly into the night. The hit though, dang. It made these old bones wince big time. Couldn't the other P-town "foot"ball team have used a few Mr. Evans like players on their roster. Brownie, when you sqeezed into that wall of Hawks and caused such a RUCKUS that Corwin was able to sneak in and finish off his second goal, well, that was a thing of beauty. Niz, I didn't take a picture of it but "I saw you". That's right, I saw you exchanging blows all the way down the sideline with your Hawk counterpart and I also saw who started it (Mamma Niz, it wasn't your boy). Way to go for not backing down! I like to see that kind of fire especially from a freshman. It bodes well for the future of the P-town program. Bon, Al, E, Jose, A.C., you will all be missed but I tell you what, you taught the youngins well and should feel good about yourselves because you laid the foundation for what is sure to be a KVA soccer dynasty for years to come. GO P-TOWN and like I said on Wednesday, "Bless You Boys" for all the FUN you game me and the rest of the Parchment fans this year!!
FINAL THOUGHTS: Al where did all the years go? Seems like just yesterday we were living on Brahms and you and I were playing one on one soccer in the back yard. Remember the fence was the goal and every 5 minutes we would be fishing the soccer ball out of the neighbor's pool? I love ya kid. Thanks for letting me be your pops. It's been an honor and a privilege. Hugs, Dad
A Championís Creed...
Comments about anything?Thomas R. Wolf, Jr. <firstname.lastname@example.org>