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Knights win to secure home playoff game

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Brenen Swofford kicks what turned out to be the game winner during the Knights' match with Moses Lake Christian yesterday. Swofford put his free kick over a wall of Moses Lake players and dropped the ball behind the Lions' keeper.

It's good to be home.

After three straight league losses the Sunnyside Christian High School boys soccer team raced out to a 2-0 lead over Moses Lake Christian Academy last night and then held on for a 3-2 win to set up a home playoff match this Friday.

Both the Knights and the Lions had qualified for the playoffs, the only thing to be decided was where each team would play next Friday. If the Knights lost, they would travel to Moses Lake, a place they were shut out Oct. 9.

"We were pushing real hard for this game," SCHS Coach Tim DeGroot said. "We don't play well at Moses Lake."

The Knights' starting keeper, Connor Erickson, was playing in the backfield due to two dislocated shoulders. One he suffered in the Knights' loss to Riverside Christian last Saturday, and the other one he dislocated in practice a few weeks ago. Sophomore Nathan Groenewold got the nod to start in Erickson's place.

"It was a chess match today," DeGroot said, explaining how he set his line-up. "Nathan played great today, we were thrilled."

SCHS jumped to a 1-0 lead in just the fourth minute of play on a Jesse Brouwer goal.

Teammate Mike DeGroot got the ball and the Moses Lake defense swarmed him. When this happened Brouwer broke down the field and DeGroot cleanly passed the ball to him. Brouwer raced down the field and kicked the ball in the goal.

"It was beautiful," DeGroot commented.

In the 11th minute DeGroot was able to assist on another goal.

Coach DeGroot said he talks to his son all the time about not pulling up when he hears footsteps behind him. The younger DeGroot followed his dad's advice to the tee, charging hard into Moses Lake's lines with defenders behind him. The Lions were left with no choice but to take him down, and fortunately for the Knights, DeGroot was taken down inside the box, resulting in a penalty kick.

Joel Koopsman gave the Knights a 2-0 lead when he did the honors of taking the penalty kick.

SCHS took a 2-0 lead into halftime, but was unable to prevent a little drama, as the Knights gave up a goal in the 47th minute.

Moses Lake's Jesse Bassett hit a hard shot from 25 yards out in the right hand corner of the goal to cut the Knights' lead to one point.

"Nate had a hand on it but the ball was going too fast," DeGroot said. "It just went out of his hands."

Brenen Swofford gave the Knights some breathing room in the 54th minute of play. After a teammate was taken down, Swofford took a direct free kick from 25 yards out. His kick put the ball over the wall of Moses Lake players and it dropped behind the keeper for a 3-1 lead.

"This is the second or third time he's done that this year," DeGroot said.

Moses Lake's Jared DeTrolio scored for the Lions in the 66th minute. He kicked a low shot right at Groenewold, who went down to his knees to stop it. Right before the ball got to Groenewold it hit a lip in the grass and bounced up over him.

"Nathan got a hand on the ball but by then it was already in," DeGroot recalled.

The Lions then put on a relentless attack, taking five shots on goal in the final five minutes of play but the Knights held on to leave the field victorious.

SCHS finished with 14 shots on goal, with the Lions getting 10 shots. Groenewold had 13 saves for the Knights and the keeper for Moses Lake finished with 10.

The Knights (5-4, 11-4-1) will host the same club they defeated yesteray on Friday, Oct. 26, at 3 p.m. in a loser-out playoff match. If the Knights get past the Lions again, they will play Riverside Christian on Saturday, Oct. 27, to set seeding for Regionals.

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