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Knights win two 'friendlies' over weekend

TROUT LAKE - The Sunnyside Christian Knights had a chance to tune-up its soccer team with two friendly matches Friday and Saturday in Trout Lake.

On Friday the Knights played Corbett High School from Oregon, beating them 1-0.

"It was a tough game," SCHS Coach Tim De Groot said.

De Groot was happy he had Cole Van de Graaf playing keeper for him. Van de Graaf hadn't played soccer in high school but did when he was in the seventh and eighth grades.

"We got him back this year," De Groot said. "He really saved our bacon. He's an incredible player. It's good to have him back."

The game was tied at zero for the entire game until Luke Meininger scored for the Knights in the 75th minute.

"He put a beautiful chip shot from 40 yards out over their keeper's head," De Groot said. "He's an extremely strong player."

In the first half Van de Graaf had 10 saves, but in the second half he only had two saves. That was because of the Knights' defense.

In the second half De Groot moved freshman Nathan Groenewold to halfback and freshman Hessel Veldhuis to fullback. De Groot said this change made the difference.

"These two guys really helped us," he said. "They turned up the defensive intensity and that was a big difference."

The Knights had 20 shots on goal in Friday's game. De Groot credited the shut out to Van de Graaf.

"Cole anticipates the ball so well," he said of Van de Graff's keeping abilities. "He's incredible."

The Knights had an easier time on Saturday when they took on City Christian School out of Portland.

In the first half City Christian got on the board first in the eighth minute when Chris Threat scored an unassisted goal to give City Christian a 1-0 lead.

City Christian's Michael Meyer then scored an unassisted goal in the 23rd minute for a 2-0 lead over the Knights.

With the wind behind their backs in the second half, the Knights mounted a comeback.

"I told the team at halftime we were an extremely strong team offensively and two goals was nothing," De Groot said.

It all started and ended with Michael De Groot. In the 43rd minute he got SCHS on the scoreboard to cut the lead to 2-1. He was assisted on the goal by Brenen Swofford.

De Groot then scored again in the 55th minute off an assist from Cole Van de Graaf. Van de Graaf came out and took his cousin's, Aaron Van de Graaf, place in the second half when Aaron injured himself. Cole took Aaron's place and Aaron went back to do keeping duties.

Swofford gave SCHS the lead in the 57th minute when he took a pass from Joel Koopsman and scored, giving the Knights a 3-2 lead.

"Our offense is run by Joel," De Groot said. "He distributes the ball so well. He understands the timing and how to feed the ball."

Cole Van de Graff added to the score in the 71st minute. He was assisted by De Groot.

In the 79th minute De Groot completed his hat trick and scored a goal, this time assisted by Cole Van de Graff to make the score 5-2 right before the game ended.

"Both Mike and Cole had pretty good games," De Groot said. "It makes my job easier, that's for sure."

The two games last weekend gave the Knights confidence in their abilities, De Groot said. He said they have a comfort level knowing Cole Van de Graaf is back behind them. They believe in themselves defensively.

The comeback from a two-point deficit in Saturday's game gave them confidence in their offensive game, he added.

De Groot also singled out Danny Van Boven. He said when Aaron Van de Graaf got hurt the Knights had to find a way to shut down City Christian's offense.

"Danny moved to fullback to shut down their right wing and he did," De Groot said. "He was very important back there."

The Knights (0-0, 2-0) will host another set of friendly matches at home next Friday, Sept. 15, and Saturday, Sept. 16, before league plays opens on Tuesday, Sept. 19, against Moses Lake Christian Academy.

"Overall they were very good games," De Groot said of this past weekend's play. "We have some things to work on, but our guys are fast learners. It should be fun."

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