Oliver scores overtime goal to give Genesee Christian its first state title with a 3-2 victory over Hackett in Division 4
Brighton — Jesse Oliver was an unlikely hero on Saturday.
The senior midfielder from Burton Genesee Christian scored just his fifth goal of the season with 1:05 left in the first overtime period, lifting the 14th-ranked Soldiers to a 3-2 victory over No. 7 Kalamazoo Hackett to capture the Division 4 title at Brighton High School.
It marked Genesee Christian’s first state title in any sport since joining the Michigan High School Athletic Association in 1994. Previously, the Soldiers competed in the Michigan Association of Christian Schools state tournaments.
The Soldiers (28-0-0) won the MACS Division I title in ‘93 before moving over to the MHSAA.
Genesee Christian had won 13 districts and two regionals (2012, 2015) and this was their first state-final appearance.
“What a story,” Genesee Christian coach Doug Anderson said. “To finally win it. And the way we won it. Jesse Oliver is our holding midfielder. He works so hard, but he’s not a big goal scorer. He’s had maybe five all season. But he sure came through for us today.”
Anderson is 109-41-10 in his seven seasons at Genesee Christian.
Junior Riley Buchalski’s cross into the box to Oliver resulted in the game-winner, as Oliver controlled the ball and volleyed home a shot from 15 yards out.
“Jesse did a great job on that play. He controlled the ball and perfectly placed the ball into the corner of the goal,” Buchalski said. “He came through for us. A lot of us have played together since the fourth and fifth grade. We play together in high school, recess, gym, rec soccer — whenever we’ve had the chance. We knew when we were all juniors and seniors that we would compete for a state title. We finally did it.”
Genesee Christian took a 1-0 lead with 10:10 left in the opening half hen senior Ryan Deweese’s long curling pass into the box was retrieved by junior Cole Russell, who cut the ball back and laced a shot into the net for his team-leading 35th goal of the season.
Hackett (21-5-1) tied the match in the 51st minute off Will Knoll’s close-range header following a cross from Kieran O’Brien.
The Soldiers eventually took a 2-1 advantage with nine minutes left in regulation, when Russell’s cross into the box was flicked by junior Caleb Dupree over to senior Tyler Rose, who headed home the close-range shot.
Hackett caught Genesee Christian napping less than two minutes later. The Irish knotted the with 7:11 remaining when junior James Amat volleyed in a free kick from freshman Max Keenan after a foul 10 yards outside of the penalty box.
Genesee Christian outshot Hackett by a 23-12 margin, including 15-8 with shots directly on frame, and also held a 6-3 edge on corner kicks over 100 minutes of play.
The Soldiers outshot Hackett 6-2 over the two, 10-minute overtime periods.
“We made a great run and we came in here with the confidence to win it,” said first-year Hackett coach Ian Troutman. “We kept fighting through each round to get here and in this game we tied the game twice. The heart that they had shown to get here. But hats off to Genesee Christian. They are a very incredible technically and they created a lot of chances and finished the opportunities that they got. They were just able to finish one more than we did.”
Genesee Christian outscored its 28 foes by a 116-12 margin this season en route to the title. Only two teams scored two goals on the Soldiers, including Hackett in the finals.
“This was an incredible season,” said Anderson. “We’ve always had a strong program. We reached the stet semifinals (three) years ago. But we never had a team like this. Their chemistry was incredible.”