MASON – Evan Joneson wasn’t quite sure what kind of role he’d have for the Mason boys soccer team this fall.
He’s found one and displayed a knack for delivering in big games.
Saturday was the latest moment where Joneson stepped up for the Bulldogs. The sophomore had the lone goal to help No. 8-ranked Mason to a 1-0 victory over Dearborn Divine Child in a Division 2 regional final.
Joneson’s goal, which was set up Lirim Shefkiu, gave the Bulldogs (22-3) a second straight regional title and sends them to Wednesday’s state semifinal against No. 4 Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood at Farmington Hills Harrison..
“(Evan has) been solid all year,” Mason coach Nick Binder said. “He’s a good, sound player technically. He’s learned to play with the physical aspect of varsity soccer. He’s come on. He had the two goals in a 2-1 win over East Lansing and obviously the one goal in a regional final win. Call him big-game Evan I guess.”
Joneson wasn’t expecting to be a difference maker Saturday but happened to be in the right place at the right time.
“It feels great,” Joneson said. “I wasn’t expecting it, but I saw it go through the keeper’s hands and I put it through.”
It was in the middle stages of the second half when Shefkiu made a run on the left wing and delivered the centering pass in the box that made it through to Joneson.
And that play helped Mason pull out what was its tightest state tournament contest to date.
“Both keepers played well and defensively both keepers were strong,” Binder said. “It was just one of those games where you knew one goal was going to decide it, and thankfully Lirim made one heck of a run down the sideline and served in a great ball and Evan was there to make no mistake on it.
“It was quite a battle and could have gone either way certainly. Credit to our guys for poking the one in and keeping them off the scoreboard.”
Mason soccer blanks Trenton in regional semis
Mason has yet to allow a goal in its five state tournament games. And keeping that streak alive Saturday made sure the Bulldogs were able to celebrate a regional title on their home field.
“It’s just crazy,” Shefkiu said. “Being on the home field, I think 1982 was the last time we played here in the regional finals. It was against Dearborn and we lost. Now we’ve brought it back and we just won a regional title on our home field. It’s awesome. It’s crazy.”
Contact Brian Calloway at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @brian_calloway.