MASON — Beverly Hills Detroit Country Day girls soccer coach Bob Bukari spoke to his team following the loss to Hudsonville Unity Christian 3-1 in the Division 3 state championship June 14 at Mason High.
The coach told his players that there were opportunities on the field that would have changed the outcome of the game, but also he was proud of them and more opportunities lie ahead.
“It was a great state run. Today was the first day we gave up goals,” Bukari said. “I think it stunned us a little bit, but overall, it was a wonderful year. … We’re happy with how much we got accomplished this year.”
The Yellowjackets finish the season 21-4-3 overall. Unity Christian ends 23-1 and with its eighth state championship since 2005. This was the third time the Crusaders beat Country Day in a final.
The Yellowjackets led early, with senior Michelle Manning scoring unassisted four minutes into the game, and held the advantage into the second half.
Then the Crusaders came alive, dominating possession and putting up three goals in the final frame, eventually leading Country Day in shots 14-5.
The Yellowjackets did hit a crossbar and missed an open net on the rebound.
“We had our chances; we just didn’t finish them,” Bukari said. “They kind of exposed our defense.”
Country Day carried a young roster, with only four seniors. Still, Bukari said he knew early on that it would be a special group.
“It’s the most depth we’ve had at Country Day,” he said. “In year’s past, we’ve had success playing with basketball players, golfers and tennis players. This is the first time we’ve had 14 girls that play club soccer. We knew this team was going to be good.”
The coach added that the future looks bright with 13 total freshmen and sophomores on the roster, including freshman Isabel Nino, who had 13 saves in net, though his seniors will be missed.
Manning said it was the team’s work ethic that allowed it to get as far as it did.
“We fought to the very end, and there was a lot of heart. I’ll really miss everyone on this team,” she said. “I’m very proud of my team for what we did.”