FARMINGTON HILLS, Mich. (WLNS) – The Mason boys soccer team is the 6 Sports Team of the Week after advancing to the MHSAA Division 2 State Championship game.
The Bulldogs, who are seeking the fifth state title in program history, advanced to the title game with a thrilling 3-2 victory in penalty kicks over Warren De La Salle on Wednesday night.
Junior Mendi Rexhepi scored two goals for the Bulldogs in the win.
His second goal came in the first two minutes of overtime and looked like it would hold up as the game-winner. But with just over a minute remaining in overtime, De La Salle’s Vincent Houlihan found the back of the net to tie the score again and force a shootout.
The late goal was a gut-punch to the Bulldogs and gave the Pilots all the momentum heading into the penalty kick shootout. But Mason sophomore goalkeeper Mikey Krysiak stepped up and stole the momentum back by saving the first De La Salle PK attempt.
Mason won the penalty kick shootout 3-1 to advance.
The victory provided a shining example of how far Krysiak and the Bulldogs have come this season. Mason had lost to De La Salle 2-1 in a preseason scrimmage.
“We had the opportunity to play De La Salle in the first weekend at a scrimmage and the funny piece is — I’ll pick on him right now — is there was a goal that we gave up that really, really showed the sign that we had a young keeper,” said Mason head coach Jacob Derby. “And now, from that point to here? Oh my gosh, like talk about the growth! [Krysiak]’s saving PKs, he’s holding onto the ball with guys crashing the net. He’s really, really grown from there.”
Krysiak said he knew he was ready to rise to the occasion in the penalty kick shootout because of all the time he had put in after practices.
“We’ve been practicing this everyday after practice,” he said. “I was just, I felt ready. I said to myself during the game that if this goes to PKs, I’m going to be ready. And I was ready.”
“I’ve never felt something like this before,” Krysiak said of advancing to the state championship game. “I’ve been playing this game my whole life but this is the best I’ve ever felt playing it. It’s an amazing experience and I’m so proud of the team.”
Mason will play Grand Rapids Christian in the state championship game on Saturday at 3:30 pm. at Grand Ledge High School.