From staff reports
CEDAR SPRINGS — Travis Bouwkamp scored with 2:21 remaining Wednesday night as top-ranked Grand Rapids Covenant Christian edged upset-minded Bellaire 3-2 in a Division 4 state semifinal soccer match here.
The Eagles (24-2) had tied the game 2-2 with 7:56 remaining on Denny Hall’s second goal of the night. It came on a header off Drew Emery’s corner kick.
Bellaire was called for a foul just outside the box with 2:21 left and the Chargers scored off the ensuing free kick after it was batted around the box.
“We felt we were going into overtime,” Eagles coach Brad Rowe said. “Unfortunately, we gave up a free kick deep in our zone, mishandled it and they had a guy there to clean it up on the rebound.”
Covenant Christian (22-1-3) will play Lansing Christian for the state title Saturday.
The Chargers had to dig deep to advance, though.
“It was an unbelievable game,a heartbreaker,” Rowe said. “Our kids played really, really well.
“I don’t think anybody expected us to come down here and compete the way we did with the No. 1 team in the state. We gave them all they wanted and more.
“I couldn’t be more proud of our kids. It was heck of a year. I would have liked a win here tonight, but if its got to end they showed a lot of heart.”
Hall scored the game’s only goal in the first half, finding the net off a cross from Hunter Rowe.
Bouwkamp tied it off a corner kick just 34 seconds into the second half.
“That’s been a problem all season for us,” Rowe said. “We’ve given up several goals this season early into the second half. We’ve struggled with that. It was a fear of mine.”
Covenant Christians, dominating possession, took its first lead on a Derek Dykstra goal off a corner kick.
Hall, though, netted the equalizer, setting up the late game dramatics.
Rowe said the Chargers had the “fresh legs” late and that was key.
“In the regional final we played 11 kids for 80 minutes,” Rowe said. “I never made a sub.Tonight was the same story, although we had a couple injuries and subbed. Grand Rapids Covenant Christian was subbing in three to four new kids every seven to nine minutes. When you have a deep bench, and lots of talented players, it sure makes a difference late in a game. I think that was the difference in tonight’s match. They had fresh legs and we just ran out of steam late.”
Adam Crandall had nine saves for Bellaire. The Eagles had four shots on goal, the Chargers had 12.