Colton Heidrich hat-trick leads Grass Lake to victory over Columbia Central

GRACE LAKE — The combination of Zander Stormont and Colton Heidrich provided enough firepower for the Grass Lake football team to overcome an early Columbia Central goal on Wednesday for a 4-1 victory over the Golden Eagles.

Heydrich scored a hat-trick, with Stormont assisting on all three of those goals, as well as another goal in the 76th minute from Max Goebel.

“He has good footwork,” Heydrich said. He added: “He always knows when to play the ball, and it is always a good ball, and it is easy to touch.”

The hat-trick gives Heydrich 18 goals for the year. The school record at Grass Lake is 22. The school record for girls or boys soccer is 34, which was set in the spring of 2022 by Kaylin Heidrich, who is Colton’s sister.

Grass Lake isn’t far behind this season. In fact, the Warriors rarely gave up goals. Grass Lake coach Andrew Totev felt it was good for his team to see some adversity.

“I was excited to see what would happen,” he said. “Honestly, we didn’t play well right after (Columbia Central’s goal) but once we calmed down and got our heads up a little bit, we started taking control of the game.”

Columbia Central took the lead in the sixth minute when Andrew Hosmer took a ball up the left sideline, eventually crossing it to Derrick Sanders, who picked it up and scored.

“I thought we had a lot of energy in the beginning and good touches on the ball,” Golden Eagles coach Kendon Smith said. “They were excited about it, but once Grass Lake came and responded, I felt like our guys fell a little bit, started getting a little desperate and had a hard time controlling the ball and having possession.

“We’ve been in a lot of games this season and come out of them fast. We like to score early, score first. It happened on Saturday against North West. It happened against Manchester, we scored from outside the net. We’ve done that where we come out strong early, and now We have to keep this up for 80 minutes.

This lead continued until the 11th minute, when Heydrich scored the equalizer from close range.

Grass Lake (9-1, 4-1 Cascades) took the lead a minute later when Stormont passed the ball to Heydrich who weaved his way through the Golden Eagles’ defense to make it 2-1.

“I saw one of the players going sliding, so I knew I couldn’t get the ball through him, so I took another touch and passed it to the other side of the net,” he said.

Heydrich added the third goal in the 66th minute.

Grass Lake had plenty of other opportunities as well. Eight corner kicks in the first half and six shots on goal in the first half came from the Warriors having the bulk of the possession in the first half. An early shot from Stormont from close range deflected off two Columbia Central defenders. Heydrich almost scored a hat-trick in the 19th minute, but Columbia Central goalkeeper Logan Cripps blocked the kick. An apparent goal stemming from a cross from Zach Rice was flagged for offside.

Grass Lake had the first good chance of the second half, as Stormont advanced down the left side in the 43rd minute and passed to Tyler Chizik, but that shot was cleared.

Throughout most of the first half and into the second, Grass Lake showered Columbia Central with chance after chance, outscoring the Golden Eagles 6-1 in the first half in shots on goal and 11-3 in total shots, then extending that advantage early. In the second half, he finished the match with an 11-4 lead in corner kicks and a 13-3 lead in shots on goal. But the Golden Eagles’ back line kept things close.

“My defense is pretty small,” Smith said. “All of my defenders are sophomores, so we’re working with good guys at the back, but they’re young and still figuring out how to work together.”

Columbia Central (5-3-2, 3-2 Cascades) had a few chances in the first half. Grass Lake’s Sal Vitale missed a chance in the third minute after a promising through ball to Jonas McKee. Late in the first half, Sanders took a long free kick from straight from midfield that was on frame but cleared for a corner kick, with the Warriors’ backline turning away any chance from the corner.

“We did a good job of monitoring their movements in and across the back line,” Vitale said. “Ben Tepe, the other centre-back, and I are doing a lot of good communication there.”

Columbia Central appeared to briefly tie the game in the 46th minute, but the ball rolled over the end line for a goal kick before slotting into the net. Carter Simpson’s shot in the 51st minute led to another chance, as Josh Posthuma briefly crossed the ball, but was able to gather it to make the save before it was put into the net.

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