Redskins beat Aviators to face Crusaders in Regional final

Butch Hindenach •
Paw Paw’s Justin Boven appears to have skewered the ball to keep it away from the Hudsonville Unity Christian Crusader in hot pursuit in the Regional championship game at Otsego Saturday.  Boven was one of nine seniors playing their last game at PPHS. The Redskins had beaten the West Michigan Aviation Academy Aviators, 5-3, last Wednesday to go into the final game.   Haley Hagen photo

   OTSEGO - For the fourth time in five years, Paw Paw’s boys soccer team advanced to the Regional finals after an exciting 5-3 win over Grand Rapids West Michigan Aviation Academy last Wednesday evening.
   Things got off to a quick start for Paw Paw as Noah Gledhhill fed Jacob Broadwater for a score just one minute into the game. Twenty minutes passed before another ball found the goal, this time on  an Aviator’s corner kick, while the Redskins were attempting to clear the ball, an inadvertent touch by the Reds created an own goal, tying the game at 1-1.
   Three minutes later, Sean McLaughlin located Gledhill and he quickly deposited it over the goal line to regain the Redskins’ lead.  With 11 minutes left in the first half, Broadwater barely missed a shot on goal, however teammate Sam Wood was in the right spot to clean it up by drilling the ball past the Aviator keeper. 
   With a 3-1 lead starting the second half of play, the Redskins looked to be in control of the game; but just one minute into play, the Aviators connected on a long shot to make it a tight contest again. As the clock began to wind down, the McLaughlin-to- Gledhill connection worked again at 28 minutes, and once more at 21, giving Gledhill a three-goal hat trick, and creating a three-assist night for the helpful McLaughlin.
   The Aviators managed one late goal, but the Redskins headed home with their ninth consecutive victory.


   OTSEGO - A special season for Paw Paw Redskins soccer ended Saturday, in a well-played 2-0 defeat at the hands of perennial state soccer powerhouse Hudsonville Unity Christian in the Regional final game. 
   The Crusaders, who have been ranked in the top two in the state’s Division 3 boys soccer rankings all season, and are always among the favorites to take home a championship trophy, struck early, barely two minutes into the game, and added one more score in the first half.  
   After that, the battle for the Regional trophy was an intense defensive one to the end, with both teams creating some highlights to be long remembered.
   Despite their season ending sooner than planned, the Reds can look back on a very successful season.  Their final record of 14-6-1 is sixth on the all-time list in most wins over the 35 years of Paw Paw soccer. A nine-game winning  streak, a No. 7 state ranking, and a new school record for consecutive shutouts are among the heights  this team achieved. 
   Nine seniors finished their high school soccer careers with this game and they all will be missed when the team assembles next year. Ryan Brennan, Justin Boven, Jacob Broadwater, Garret Lennen, Noah Gledhill, Max Downard, Sean McLaughln, Sam Wood, and Preston Alger led the Reds honorably as excellent examples for the underclassmen. 


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