Hudsonville Unity Christian holds off Williamston for Division 3 state championship
KENTWOOD – A year ago, the split second the Hudsonville Unity Christian boys soccer team was eliminated from the postseason in its district final, Jared Timmer and his teammates started plotting their revenge.
The Crusaders couldn’t wait for a shot at redemption.
The early exit from the state tournament last season supplied all the motivation Saturday to finish off their determined run to the Division 3 title. They held off Williamston, 1-0, in a difficult battle at Pat Patterson Field to claim their fourth state championship overall, but their first in Division 3.
“It was our No. 1 goal before the season – to be state champions,” said Timmer, a senior midfielder, who scored the only goal of the contest on a header following a reset in the seventh minute of action. “It’s something special. Basically, after the game was when I decided that I couldn’t wait until next year for a tournament run.
“I was like, ‘I’m ready to go.’ It was everything right after that game ended. I just wanted to win a state title.”
It was the 30th goal of the season for Timmer.
“It’s a blur. I just remember Trent Vegter hitting the ball into me,” Timmer explained. “(Willliamston senior midfielder Josh Flint was on me the whole game, and he’s game great player.
I just slipped behind him and headed it.
“It was just joy when it went in.”
The co-captain and offensive leader for the Crusaders is headed to Butler University on a soccer scholarship next year.
A state championship trophy provided the perfect ending to his prep career, according to coach Randy Heethuis.
“It was served from one of our other captains, Trent Vegter,” Heethuis said. “For those two players to team up in the state final and for it to stand up to be the game winner, you probably couldn’t script it much better.”
It also resulted in Heethuis’ 396th career win.
“Our goal was to be playing on Nov. 1, and we did that,” he said. “Since we’re here, we said, ‘Let’s go out and win this thing.’ I’m just happy for our boys, especially this senior class. It was a battle right to the bitter end.
“We knew it was going to be a good, hard-fought, low-scoring game.”
The Crusaders (24-1) had other scoring opportunities in the first half, but failed to find the net. Overall, they finished with 10 corner kicks and six shots on goal, while Williamston (14-4-6) managed just two shots.
“We got that goal early, on the restart. I thought we left another goal or two out there in the first half. In a game like this against a dangerous team like that, you hope it doesn’t come back to bite you,” Heethuis said. “We had 10 corners for the game, but we didn’t get anything off them. So, we missed some opportunities there.”
It was a bittersweet ending for the Hornets after a deep run in the tournament.
“We never quit. We were relentless. We battled,” Williamston coach Brent Sorg said. “You saw the game that we gave them was incredible. This group never quit. This is something we can be proud of. That’s what I just told them, ‘You walk out of here with your heads held high.’
“Yes, it hurts right now, but when you reflect on the journey and how you went about your business all year, that’s really what it means.”