MUSKEGON — Bellaire was hoping for another shot at Leland.
The Eagles did their part, winning their regional semifinal game. But instead, Bellaire (24-1) will be playing Muskegon Catholic Central (15-7-1) after the Crusaders topped the Comets 2-0 in the bracket's other half.
Bellaire jumped out to a 3-0 lead by halftime and cruised to a 5-2 Division 4 regional semifinal victory over Big Rapids Crossroads Academy in Muskegon.
Last season, Leland bounced the Eagles out of districts with a 9-1 mercy.
A regional final against Leland not only would have been a rematch, but also would have spared Bellaire a long trip back to Muskegon on Friday. If both northwestern Michigan teams had won, the final would have been played in Traverse City.
“They shelled us last year,” Bellaire coach Brad Rowe said after the Eagles win, but prior to Leland's setback. “It was a 9-1 mercy — at our house."
It's Bellaire that's the last local team standing in Division 4 now.
Hunter Rowe put the Eagles up early, striking on a left-footed shot to the net’s far side in the contest’s 10th minute.
Denny Hall put Bellaire up 2-0 with 1:07 remaining in the half.
With 19 ticks left, Adam Underwood finished off a lofted shot from Nic Underwood.
“An early lead is big for us, because it helps with confidence and momentum,” said senior forward Denny Hall, who had a goal and two assists. “It changes the way we play the game.
“We were winning a lot of 50-50 balls, which keeps the ball in our hands. That makes a big difference in a game like that.”
Crossroads opened the second half with an Andrew Duddles goal 1:01 in.
The Eagles responded with Rowe’s second of the night off a Hall assist 7:40 late to go back up by three goals.
“It was big, because from what I understand, Big Rapids was down 2-0 in the district final and they came back and rallied from two down late, tied it up, went into overtime and scored,” coach Rowe said. “Once they scored, they had some momentum. To be able to answer that really helped put us back up.”