GRAND LEDGE — The Traverse City West Soccer team wants to know what Tony Gallegos ate for breakfast Thursday.
Titans head coach Matt Griesinger wasn’t sure if it was Wheaties, but whatever it was, he wouldn’t mind if Gallegos had that everyday.
Gallegos led TC West to its second straight Division 1 regional title with four goals in a 5-1 victory over Muskegon Mona Shores at Grand Ledge High School Thursday.
“Tony was out of his mind,” Griesinger said. “He’s a guy who is so crafty and so quick, he just took over today.”
Gallegos netted a first-half hat-trick on his way to four goals Thursday. He has scored six this week during the regional round of playoffs at Grand Ledge.
“This is probably his (Gallegos) best game of the year,” Titans junior forward Cooper Davis said. “Tony really stepped up and I think this win, and its five goals, are because of him. He just took it on himself to score and carried us.”
Much like Tuesday when he scored in the seventh minute, Gallegos got the Titans started quickly Thursday with a goal in the 11th minute. Gavin Michael centered a pass from the right corner of the goalie box and Gallegos sent it to the twine.
It took only seven minutes for Gallegos to net his second. The 25 yard shot found his feet off a header from Colin Blackport and Gallegos banked it off the right post and sent the Titans into total upheaval.
“That first one is always a really big boost to us but his second one was even better,” Titans senior defender Finn Durbin said. “It was a moment for us and we take moments seriously. That was a wild goal and it definitely got us going because it was a heck of a moment.”
The burst of energy led to another goal for Gallegos less than a minute later, notching his hat-trick off a rebound that came off a long throw from Michael.
The Titans took that 3-0 lead into the break but didn’t let off the gas pedal in the second half. Durbin punched a goal home three minutes into the second half after corralling the last of several rebounds that came from a corner kick by Blackport.
“My guys have that toughness and we preach that toughness,” Griesinger said. “We had to be tougher than everything presented to us, not necessarily the other team but the whole situation.”
Gallegos added the final tally with eight minutes to play after Mona Shores snagged a goal on a quick set-piece that caught TC West off guard 17 minutes earlier.
The Titans have now outscored opponents 43-7 since October 1 and 16-2 since the playoffs began — they scored 16 goals the entire postseason on their way to a state runner-up finish in 2019.
“It’s just an indication of what the program was with Jason Carmein from 1997-2014 and what the new coaching staff was able to pick up where he left off,” Griesinger said. “There is a mindset that every guys who comes through West learns their freshman year and then lives for the rest.”
Thursday’s win marked the 100th of Griesinger’s career at TC West and the 21st of the season for the Titans, matching the school record for wins in a season.
“That record was set before a lot of them were even born so that is kind of cool,” Griesinger said. “There was a lot in addition to the trophy tonight so they were really excited about it.”
The Titans (21-1-2) will move on to face defending state champions Troy Athens (14-2-3) at Holt High School in the state semifinal next Wednesday. The Titans fell to the Red Hawks 4-1 in overtime of the D1 state finals game last season. Athens defeated Anchor Bay in a penalty kick shootout Thursday to move to the Final Four.
Griesinger preaches to his team that anything can happen in the Final Four and each of the four teams have an equal shot at the title. The Titans will need to fall back on last year’s experience to enact another night of revenge.
“The difference this year with the returning players that we have, we know what to expect,” Durbin said of the Final Four berth. “We know how these playoff games, especially in the Final Four, are played. We know what we have to do.”