It doesn’t matter how much you win by, particularly in the state tournament. You just have to win.
The latest nail-biter came Saturday, when Ludington sneaked past Elk Rapids 1-0 in the Division 3 regional championship game at Clare High School.
That win followed a 1-0 victory over Orchard View on Thursday in the regional semifinals.
While a 2-0 scoring advantage over two games is hardly dominant, it was enough to earn the Orioles their third straight trip to the Division 3 state semifinals. They will face Grand Rapids South Christian on Wednesday at 8 p.m. at Cedar Springs High School, with the winner advancing to the state championship game.
Ludington, now 13-9-3 on the season, beat South Christian two years ago in the semifinals, 2-1.
Ludington coach Kris Anderson admitted that the close scores in the big games have left him a bit on the nervous side.
“Winning is great, but you always like it if there is a little more breathing room,” he quipped.
The first half of Saturday’s game was scoreless. The lone goal was scored by Ludington’s Nick Patterson about seven minutes into the second half. The assist went to Brayden Porter.
“It started out as a free kick in the box,” Anderson said. “Brayden kind of played the ball away from the goalkeeper and headed it back to Nick, and he finished it from just inside the 18.”
Ludington goalkeeper Kyle Wendt collected his fifth straight shutout of the state tournament, stopping nine Elk Rapids shots.
He had several very big saves, including one in the first half when he deflected a close-range shot by an Elk Rapids attacker. Wendt also came up big in the second half after an Elk Rapids corner kick, making two big saves in heavy traffic to keep the game scoreless.
The Orioles broke the tie with the game-winning goal about two minutes later.
Wendt and the Ludington defense have not allowed a single goal in the tournament through five games. The Orioles have only allowed a total of 22 shots in those games, for an average of a little more than four per game.
“We are playing pretty well right now on defense,” Anderson said.