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Three first half goals lead Genesee Christian to second straight state title, 3-0 over Muskegon C.C.

By: Lenny Padilla, November 5, 2016, 8:11 pm

COMSTOCK PARK, MI – Caleb DuPree has terrorized goalkeepers all season and Saturday wasn’t any different.

The speedy Burton Genesee Christian forward scored two goals to help the Soldiers beat Muskegon Catholic Central 3-0 in the Division 4 state championship game on Saturday at Comstock Park High School. It is the second-straight title for Genesee Christian (23-2-1).

“It’s a dream come true,” said DuPree, a senior. “The first time doing it was unbelievable, but this time, doing it as a senior, it’s really special.”

Genesee Christian, a school of just 114 students, went up 3-0 in the first half.

Cole Russell, a dynamic senior forward, finished the game on the bench with his right arm in a sling. He was injured during a collision with 27 minutes to go in the second half and never returned. But not before he did some damage of his own. He scored the first goal of the game and assisted on the second.

“I put my time in my first half and I did the best I could today, because it’s my last game with these guys.” Russell said. “I was a little unlucky because of this injury, but I knew these guys could take home the win.”

Russell got the scoring started when he took a corner kick from the left side of the goal and bent it straight into the upper left corner of the net at the 31:58 mark. MCC goalkeeper Connor O’Neill is pretty tall, but he had no shot at a save. 

The Soldiers went up 2-0 when Russell booted a corner kick from the left side to the far right of the goal to an awaiting Tyler Rose who headed the ball to an awaiting DuPree. DuPree punched it in at the 24:14 mark.

“We are kind of lethal on corner kicks,” Russell said. “We have Rex (Tyler) Rose who attacks every single header in there and he wins everything.”

DuPree scored again with 3:10 to go in the first half when he deked one defender, went one-on-one with O’Neill, faked left and shot right for a 3-0 lead. 

“Caleb, man, he’s a great player,” Soldiers coach Doug Anderson said of DuPree. “He loves to play the game of soccer. Sometimes he gets tried going all out. But other teams get more tired trying to chase him. We tell him ‘work your hardest out there because teams don’t want to chase you for 80 minutes’”

It wasn’t an easy way to end the season for Muskegon Catholic Central, which finished the season 13-9-4.

“I’ve been apart of this program forever,” MCC forward Neil Kuharevicz said. “I have three other brothers – two that came before me and one on this team (Glen Kuharevicz) – so I know what Catholic soccer is. It hurts a lot right now. I’m not even sad about this game as much as knowing this is over.”

The back-to-back soccer state titles are the only championships in Genesee Christian’s school history. 

“It’s phenomenal” said Genesee Christian keeper Zach Noecker, who made seven saves. “We’ve been playing on our varsity field since we were in first and second grade. Snow, rain, mud … that’s all we did during recess. It’s been a real passion and a joy with these guys.”

Russell plans to play soccer at Spring Arbor University next season. But DuPree is still undecided. He said his speed is his main weapon.

“I feel like my speed was a major killer (today) and really helped us and helped me get some goals,” DuPree said.