BIG RAPIDS — For about seven minutes the flood gates opened up and Traverse City Christian went on the attack.
The Sabres netted three goals from the 25th minute into the 32nd minute of Tuesday night's Division 3 regional semi-final here against Ludington — and that's all they needed. The Orioles regrouped, but it was too late as the Sabres went on to post a 3-1 victory.
“We just clicked,” TC Christian head coach Ron Christie said of that span. “Ludington possessed the ball more than we did, but when we had the opportunities we made the most of them.”
Ludington had a goal called back on an offsides call in the opening moments, otherwise neither team put up much of an offensive attack for the first 10 minutes.
That changed with 24:41 left in the first half, when Christian's Cam Beemer fired a shot from 20 yards out and bounced it under the diving Ludington goalkeeper Josh Jensen to make it 1-0.
About a minute later Beemer nearly headed a ball into the goal off a centering pass, but Jensen raced to grab the ball at the goal-line.
With 22:09 to play in the half, Jacob Rorick pulled up from 25 yards and fired a shot through a pair of Oriole defenders into the the left side of the goal to put the Sabres up 2-0.
Just over two minutes later, Ben Colburn raced the Ludington keeper for a loose ball on the left-side of the field. Colburn won the race, flipped the ball towards the goal and Rorick buried the shot into the net at point-blank range.
“It was just that seven minute span,” Ludington head coach Tim Bryant said. “Otherwise, we were right there.”
Ludington controlled play mostly for the remainder of the half, but couldn't tally a goal, in part to several key saves by Sabres goalkeeper David Bump.
First, Bump interrupted a centering pass with 15 minutes left to play in the half. Then, with 8:07 to go, Bump raced to a loose ball as a Ludington player was closing in on it.
Ludington fired a pair of wild shots in the half's final minute and then had time run out just as the ball was being kicked in for a goal.
“We were clicking at times,”Bryant said. “They just took the one away from us in the beginning and then the one at the end of the half hurt, too. We had some opportunities, we just didn't get the right bounce.”
The Orioles continued to put heavy offensive pressure on Christian, but the Sabres defense, aside from a goal by Malcolm Thompson in the 50th minute, was up to the task.
“Our defensive arm that included Dan Weber and Kevin Mannes was huge,” Christie said. “They stopped any kind of scoring threat or shot.”
The Sabres continued to hold strong defensively, holding back the Oriole offense as their shots came off wildly in desperation in the waning moments of the win.
“It feels good,” Christie said. “Anytime you can win against a team like Ludington and be in the regional finals it's exhilarating to say the least.”
TC Christian (14-9-3) plays Whitehall (ranked fifth) on Thursday in the regional final. Whitehall topped Tawas Area 3-2 in the other regional semi-final. Thursday's game is scheduled to be played at Big Rapids, but school officials noted the venue may be changed due to field conditions.