Marlette junior Barret George walked into Wednesday’s game against Memphis with no goals to his name.
He walked away from the field with a goal in the stat book and, more importantly, a share of the Greater Thumb Conference South championship.
George’s lone goal on the season came midway through the first half off an assist by Garrett Dean. That ended up being the game’s only goal too, besting Memphis 1-0 to split the GTC South crown as both teams have 5-1 conference records.
“I was really happy,” George said of his goal, seemingly at a loss for words. “I loved it and I’m really happy right now.”
Walking into the game, Memphis already had at least a share of its third consecutive title. Even though the Yellowjackets will have to share it with their rivals, Memphis head coach Andrew Rohde knows how special of a regular season it still was.
“I don’t think they’re as proud of (sharing the title) today as much as they’ll be tomorrow,” Rohde said. “But we earned it, and it was quite an accomplishment.”
While George’s goal lit up the scoreboard to give Marlette a piece of the trophy, the Red Raiders back line was stout all afternoon to keep Memphis off the board. Whenever the ball was around the 18 yard box, Marlette’s dynamic defense of George, Colin Ferguson, Luke Straul and Steven Wilkerson collapsed on the ball instantly.
The Red Raiders defense had goalie Dalton McNary making just four saves, all in the second half. Memphis’s defensive crew of Gavin Gerstenberger, Logan VanBuren and Ryan Vivian had goalie Harrison Krause making just four saves as well.
“They’ve saved us so many times in so many games,” Marlette senior Andrew Storm said of the defense. “We’ve never lost a game because of our defense, we’ve lost because we can’t put shots on net. They’re phenomenal.”
If the teams were to meet again, it would be in the regional round of the state playoffs.
Memphis will open up at home against winless Detroit Austin Catholic at home. If the Yellowjackets win, their next round will be against Grosse Pointe Woods Liggett.
“We always need to work on our touches and accuracy, we are still passing behind people too much,” Rohde said. “If we start putting those things together, we could go a long, long way.”
Marlette will be opening up their postseason run at Unionville-Sebewaing as they take on the winner of the Brown City-Bad Axe game. A win like they had on Wednesday only gave the Red Raiders a healthy dose of confidence moving into the playoffs.
“We’ve got Harbor Beach in our district, and we can’t overlook Bad Axe either,” Marlette head coach Dave Hayden said.