The Portage Central Mustangs and Okemos Chiefs advanced to the District 3 boys soccer championship game Saturday with victories Thursday evening at Lakeview High School. The Mustangs defeated crosstown rival Portage Northern 2-0, giving them three wins this season over the Huskies. The Chiefs used a big first half to grab a 5-3 victory over Kalamazoo Central.
The Mustangs and Huskies stayed even early in a rematch of last week’s 1-0 SMAC Championship game. In the 28th minute, Nolan Jaros sent it ahead from midfield and Minh Le put it in the net for a 1-0 Mustang lead at half.
Although PC had the edge in possession time, the Huskies had their chances, forcing Mustang goalkeeper Nick Kuppler to unofficially tally nine saves. With 7:01 left in the match, Michael Ketteman broke away and delivered the final blow. The fourth-ranked Mustangs move to 16-2-3 with the Huskies finishing the year at 12-8-3.
In the other semifinal, Okemos took a 5-0 lead into halftime against Kalamazoo Central. A penalty kick goal in the fifth minute by John-Luca Migaldi started the scoring. Alejandro Arana scored in the 14th minute, Ty Usiak in the 30th, Ben Derby in the 36th, and Jacob Mead in the 38th.
The Maroon Giants tried to rally late, with Paulo Alcala scoring thrice, the first coming in the 61st minute. He scored again with 2:47 remaining, followed by one more 33 seconds later, but the hole was too deep to get out of. Kalamazoo Central finishes at 10-7-3 with Okemos improving to 12-3-4.
Portage Central and Okemos play for the District 3 championship Saturday at noon from Lakeview High School in Battle Creek. They met in last year’s district semifinal, won by Okemos 3-0, who went on to claim the district over Portage Northern.
Listen back to Thursday’s games below:
PORTAGE CENTRAL VS PORTAGE NORTHERN
OKEMOS VS KALAMAZOO CENTRAL
Listen live online Thursday on the Slocum Sports Network to the District 3 boys soccer semifinals from Lakeview High School in Battle Creek. Up first at 5 p.m., the Kalamazoo Central Maroon Giants face the Okemos Chiefs. Following around 7 p.m. is a rematch of the Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference (SMAC) championship between Portage Central and Portage Northern.
Kalamazoo Central sits at 10-6-3 following their 3-0 first round victory over Loy Norrix. The Maroon Giants finished third in the SMAC regular season standings and has a win over Portage Central, although they fell twice to Portage Northern. K-Central was eliminated by Portage Central in last season’s district tournament. The last time the Maroon Giants made it to the regional round was 2001.
Okemos (record currently unavailable) is the defending district champion, defeating Loy Norrix, Portage Central, and Portage Northern last season. They fell in the Regional semifinal to eventual state champion East Kentwood. The Chiefs shocked Jackson Monday, winning 2-0 on the road against a Viking team that was ranked 11th and had 17 wins on the season.
Portage Central is ranked fourth in the final Division 1 Coaches Association poll at 15-2-3. The Mustangs were taken to the brink in their opener at Holt, winning 5-4 in penalty kicks following 100 minutes of scoreless soccer. Portage Central earned the SMAC Championship last week 1-0 over Portage Northern, their second victory this season against the Huskies. Their earlier meeting in the Portage Derby game was a 3-1 Mustang victory. PC’s last district crown came in 2012.
Portage Northern sits at 12-7-3, having defeated district host Lakeview 3-1 in their first round match. They won the District 3 final over Okemos in 2015 and made it as far the Regional final that season. The Huskies took second in the SMAC standings this year behind their crosstown rival.
Listen live to both matches online Thursday via the Slocum Sports Network. Kalamazoo Central and Okemos is set for 5 p.m. with Portage Central and Portage Northern to follow from Lakeview High School.