MIDLAND — A second half of chances eventually paid off for the Traverse City West boys soccer team.
After a first half where the Titans (15-6-3) didn’t possess the ball much at all, West dominated control of the ball in the second half and overtime, pulling out a come-from-behind 2-1 overtime victory against Walled Lake Central in a Division 1 regional semifinal on Tuesday at Midland Community Stadium.
Christian Geiger scored both of the Titans’ goals, one in the 59th minute off a corner kick and the other in the 84th minute on a header off a free kick.
Before the first of Geiger’s goals, West consistently threatened to score from the 40th minute on, but couldn’t find the back of the net.
“There was a lot of relief,” said Geiger of his goals. “It was great to be able to come through for my team.”
The Titans’ second half performance was a stark contrast from the early going of the game, a contest thoroughly controlled by the Vikings. Central used its good start to take a lead just seven minutes into the game on a goal off a deflection by Mark Gjura.
But West came out looking like a different team after the opening 40 minutes.
“We’ve got 12 seniors and I think this team has really good chemistry,” said West coach Jason Carmien. “I just think they believed. We never stopped believing and we never stopped fighting. We upped our work rate, we got more balls into the box, put more pressure on them. I just think we held it together. We didn’t panic.”
Geiger said the Titans had a good halftime talk and were inspired to play better.
“We came back out with a little more fire,” he said. “We stayed a lot tighter, our defense stayed together a lot more, which helped us win the ball. We got it to the corners a lot to get crosses, which is how we got our goals.”
Before Geiger finally scored for the first time, and with his team putting constant pressure on the Vikings but coming up empty-handed on opportunities, Carmien was concerned his team may have squandered the chance to win.
“I said to my assistant, ‘we have an eight-minute window of pressure where we probably should have scored a goal,’” said Carmien. “Yeah, I thought we missed a chance there.”
The Titans advance to Thursday’s regional final against Rochester Adams, which beat Clarkston 1-0.