2017-10-26 / Sports

No. 2 Comets return to regional title game

Leland routs Roscommon, readies up for rematch with league rival
By Jay Bushen
Sports Editor

HANK GUEST and Chris Ursu fire their teammates up for the District 64 final against Elk Rapids.HANK GUEST and Chris Ursu fire their teammates up for the District 64 final against Elk Rapids.In 2015, Leland’s appearance in the regional final ended with a loss to perennial powerhouse Muskegon Western Michigan Christian.

This year, an all-too-familiar foe awaits coach Joe Burda and his Comets, but it’s not the mighty, mighty Warriors of WMC.

No. 8 Buckley — the only team with a win over No. 2 Leland this season — stunned No. 3 WMC 1-0 in penalty kicks at a cold and sloshy regional doubleheader in Cadillac on Tuesday, winning the shootout 4-1 and setting up a clash with Leland today at 6 p.m.

“We know what to expect,” Burda said of the Bears, who beat the Comets 3-0 at home on Sept. 27 after a 2-1 loss at Hancock Field on Sept. 11. “We are going to prepare for a long battle. They are a very good defensive team that’s playing with a lot of confidence and is on a streak right now.”

LELAND COACH Joe Burda accepts the District 64 trophy from Athletic Director Ryan Knudsen on Friday after Leland’s 1-0 win over Elk Rapids.LELAND COACH Joe Burda accepts the District 64 trophy from Athletic Director Ryan Knudsen on Friday after Leland’s 1-0 win over Elk Rapids.The same can be said of Northwest Conference champion Leland — a team with a 23-1 record and a goal differential of 123 thus far.

Cobe Lund’s eighth hat trick fueled the fleet-footed Comets to their eighth straight win in the nightcap on Tuesday, a 6-0 victory over District 63 representative Roscommon.

All six goals came in the first half.

“This one shows us what we can do against opponents we haven’t seen,” said senior Adam Maleski, who scored his 15th goal in the victory. “It shows our fans and our team that we can still score goals and play at a high level.”

Jack Munoz also found the back of the net for Leland while four players — Garrison Buta-Scott, Pedro Calderon, Andre Masse and Chris Ursu — finished with one assist apiece.

The Comets will likely need another barrage of shots and an even better offensive effort to beat Buckley, a rock-solid club with only one loss this season. Lund, a junior who has already amassed 42 goals and 20 assists, will be Buckley’s top priority.

Defensively, Leland will look to neutralize the likes of Ridge Beeman, Denver Cade and Austin Harris — who are no strangers to the big stage.

All three players were instrumental in the Buckley basketball team’s run to the 2017 Class D state finals, which ended with a 78-69 loss to Powers North Central at the Breslin Center in March.

Senior subs in, lifts Leland to district title

Adam Maleski entered as a substitute — and exited a hero.

Maleski, a senior forward, scored the lone goal for Leland in a 1-0 district final win over No. 9 Elk Rapids in Maple City on Friday after making a run up the right side and cashing in on a well-placed feed from Nick Saffell with 13:22 left in the first half.

The district championship is Leland’s fifth in six seasons.

“It feels better than it did last year,” Leland coach Joe Burda said of last year’s final, a 2-1 loss to Harbor Springs in Suttons Bay. “The seniors have been preparing since that day we lost in Suttons Bay. We knew it was quite a big step to get back, but we’re back on the path.”

Warm weather, fall color and a big crowd created a championship atmosphere for Friday’s tilt, and the Comets and Elks did not disappoint.

Both teams had quality scoring chances in the second half, including a free kick that sailed a few inches wide of Leland’s right goal post. Andre Masse, Jack Munoz and Chris Ursu each had chances to double Leland’s lead down the stretch but came up empty. Elk Rapids also had a free kick from just outside the box with 7:30 remaining, but a wall of Leland players stood tall and blocked the shot.

Burda lauded the defensive efforts of Masse, Hank Guest, JJ Popp, Colin Satterwhite and goalie Garett Miller, who stopped all eight Elk Rapids shots. The shutout was Leland’s 13th.

“We gave them a hell of a game, a hell of a fight,” Elk Rapids coach Nate Plum said.

The Elks will bring back all but four players next season, Plum said.


Elks get past Glen Lake

The McDonough brothers put No. 9 Elk Rapids on upset alert early in a district semifinal matchup at Glen Lake last Wednesday, but the lead didn’t last.

The Elks, who trailed 1-0 after Brady McDonough set up older brother Peyton McDonough’s 24th goal of the season, scored four unanswered and advanced to the district final, 4-1.

“They got an early one in the second (half) and we kept competing, but they were a good team and capitalized on the few mistakes I thought we made,” Glen Lake coach Jared Boynton said.

Three different Elk Rapids players found the back of the net. The fourth tally was an own goal.

Glen Lake (4-12-1) is slated to bring back 10 players in year two of the Boynton era, including Tyler Robbins, who was second on the team with nine points (four goals, five assists) this fall.

Returners will be tasked with filling the shoes of four seniors: Peyton McDonough, Caleb Gleason, Ethan Gleason and Gus Slack.

Ursu, Comets blank Rams

Chris Ursu scored two first-half goals and assisted on another last Wednesday as Leland handed No. 15 Harbor Springs a 3-0 home loss in the District 64 semifinals.

“Chris got the points last night, he earned them and deserved them, but that game was won with defense,” coach Joe Burda said. “Our back line played very well. Owen Kareck and JJ Popp shut down their threat and had a lot of help from the midfielders.”

Burda said the Rams, who handed Burt Lake NMC a 7-0 loss in the quarterfinals, played inspired soccer and challenged Leland in the first half.

Senior goalkeeper Garett Miller and the Leland backline stood tall.

“It was one of our better examples of team defense, although it took us a while to settle into it,” Burda said. “We hadn’t had a game since (Oct. 9), and we had to get used to being on the pitch again. Once we took the fight out of them, we were able to knock the ball and possess.”

Hank Guest and Andre Masse set up the Ursu tallies, which were scored from sharp angles on the right side. Cobe Lund delivered the dagger in the second half, his 38th of the season.  

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