No. 11 East Lansing wins drama-filled district opener

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EAST LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – On the opening night of districts in high school boys soccer Holt and No. 11 East Lansing had the drama dialed all the way up to a ten at the East Lansing Soccer Complex.

“Soccer is a subjective game,” said East Lansing coach Jeff Lyon. “You’re going to have calls go against you and we’ve been working on that all season.”

In the first half East Lansing took control in the 34th minute when senior forward Malachi Barendilla booted the ball into the back of the net to give the Trojans a 1-0 lead, however the celebration wouldn’t last long.

With 10 seconds on the clock before halftime East Lansing was dinged with a foul in the penalty box and Holt’s Guershom Sylvain had no problem converting the penalty kick to make it a 1-1 ballgame at the half.

It also wouldn’t be his last.

Three minutes into the second half Sylvain was able to draw another foul in the penalty box and it was like deja vu for his second goal of the night to give the Rams their first lead of the game, 2-1.

“I love my battles with Guershom,” said East Lansing captain and senior defenseman Spencer Powe. “Some of the pens were questionable, but it makes it entertaining.”

Entertaining with a capital ‘E’ is how both sides will remember this back-and-forth affair.

In the 55th minute East Lansing was able to level the score 2-2 thanks to a goal by Evan Metzmaker, before Barendilla recorded his second goal of night in the 63th minute on a ball that went right in between the legs of Holt’s goalkeeper.

It put East Lansing back on top 3-2, but Holt continued to dig its horns into the Trojans. Just seconds later Zach Vanhorn beat East Lansing’s goalkeeper to the ball and with no one in net he made it a tie game once more, 3-3.

“To be fair, we did a good job of keeping composure,” added Lyon. “I might not have done a great job today of keeping composure, but the kids did a pretty good job of settling themselves down and putting themselves in a chance to win.”

Vanhorn also scored a goal in the 67th minute off a rebound from a free kick, but the referees ended up taking it off the board after he collided with the Trojans’ keeper while scoring the goal.

It meant it was back to a tie game at 3-3 and with eight minutes to go the Trojans would be awarded a PK of their own. Metzmaker did the honors to put East Lansing up 4-3 and they never looked back from there to survive a drama-filled district opener against Holt.

“You often don’t see three penalty kicks in a game and obviously I think two against us rocked us a little bit,” said Lyon. “I’ve got to hand it to Holt. We played them earlier in the year and we took control early in that game and I have to give them credit. They were ready for us. I mean, it’s playoff soccer. You’re playing for your season, so we’re not surprised they came out hard against us.”

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