BY DAN STICKRADT
WEB AND CONTENT EDITOR
MARQUETTE – Kingsford is finally on the top of the Upper Peninsula pyramid.
The Flivvers toppled 15-time defending Upper Peninsula Division 1 boys soccer champion Saturday 2-1 at Kaufmann Soccer Complex near Marquette to stake claim to their first title. Kingsford outdueled the Redmen 3-2 in a shootout for the game-deciding goal after the marathon match lasted over two hours and played through two 10-minute overtime periods with the score tied at 1-1.
“This was one of our goals this season, to finally beat Marquette. We have never beat them in the U.P. Tournament before -- no one has,” offered Kingsford senior Jaxon Buckley, an All-Upper Peninsula First Team pick last season as a junior who leads his team in scoring and assists this season. “We haven’t beaten them in four years and now we beat them three times this season. We knew it would be tough, but we knew we would be ready for them this (year).”
Kingsford (18-1-0) and six other Upper Peninsula teams have entered the MHSAA state tournament for the first time since 2006 and the Flivvers are enjoying perhaps their best season in school history. Kingsford cracked into the Top 15 of the Michigan High School Soccer Coaches Association Division 3 rankings in early October for the first time in program history.
GET YOUR MSN GEAR NOW
Saturday’s two wins were just another step in the right direction for Kingsford. The Flivvers will play in the Division 3 Grayling district along with neighboring rival Iron Mountain-Norway Unified, state powerhouse Elk Rapids, Grayling, Kalkaska, Cheboygan and Boyne City.
“Marquette has always been the top team in the Upper Peninsula and we finally beat them in the tournament,” noted Kingsford coach Jeff Gordon. “We beat them three times this season and I don’t know if that’s ever happened. At least since I’ve been here.
“Our team is built on defense,” added the coach. “We have a very solid backline and that leads up to the midfielders and forwards. We play very well as a team and we don’t look to have that one or two star players. I think being able to play as a team has helped us have the type of season that we’ve had.”
Marquette (11-5-1) lost in the U.P. finals for the first time in the 16-year history of the Upper Peninsula weekend tournament. The Redmen were honorable mention in the Division 2 state rankings for a few weeks earlier in the season and compete in a Division 2 district along with Petoskey, Alpena, Gaylord, Midland, Cadillac and Sault Ste Marie.
Sophomore Landon Adam, an All-Upper Peninsula First Team selection last year as a freshman, stopped a penalty kick late in regulation and again halted three more shots in the shootout to lift the Flivvers to the victory.
“He came in last season and haven’t really played the position before,” recalled Gordon. “I think he’s really worked hard at playing goalkeeper and has done a great job.”
In the shootout, Jaxon Buckley, Gavyn Landon and Lucas Engman converted their penalties to help lift Kingsford to the top.
Ben Wilson converted on the second attempt and Indigo Catalano scored on the fourth attempt for Marquette, which misfired on three shots in the shootout to finish in the runner-up slot for the first time.
Junior Henry Wood scored an unassisted goal for Marquette, which took a 1-0 lead in the 55th minute.
Kingsford tied the score at 1-1 in the 60th minute when sophomore Will Murvich headed home a cornerkick from Jaxon Buckley.
The two played two scoreless overtime periods to set up the shootout.
Marquette junior goalkeeper Edan Hautamaki recorded four saves throughout 100 minutes of play and also turned aside two shots in the penalty kick shootout.
Marquette had defeated Kingsford in the finals the previous three seasons.
MARQUETTE 6, IRON MOUNTAIN-NORWAY UNIFIED 1: After a first-round bye, Marquette advanced to the finals for a 16th straight time with this lopsided win in the semifinals. Seamus Waite recorded two goals and an assist in the win. Canyon Medina, Jack Sysko, Kaleb Chipelewski and Oscar Hill also scored, while Dixon Poggi, Ethan Sandstrom, Henry Wood, Charlie Hrodey and Indigo Catalano also picked up assists for the Redmen.
KINGSFORD 6, SAULT STE MARIE 0: Kingsford picked up little resistance in this Upper Peninsula Division 1 semifinal with the shutout win. Lucas Engman scored two goals and Jaxon Buckley picked up three assists to pace the Flivvers. Gavyn Landon, Ben Fornetti, Nathan Kenny and Jett Buckley also scored for Kingsford. Landon Adam made a pair of saves for the shutout.
UPPER PENINSULA DIVISION 2: The results for the U.P. Division 2 Tournament are unavailable. Two-time defending champion Escanaba-Gladstone Bayside Unified, Houghton, Chassell Copper Country Christian, Negaunee, Cooks Big Bay De Noc and Marquette ‘B’ were supposed to compete in this year’s bracket.