Your Prep Sports
Mid-Prairie found a way to do something few teams have been able to do this season – slow down the scoring of West Branch junior dynamo Peyton Miller.
The Golden Hawks still couldn’t come up with a way to cool off the red-hot Bears.
Gage Gingerich scored the game-winning goal with 79 seconds remaining to lift West Branch to a thrilling 2-1 win over Class 1A tenth-ranked Mid-Prairie (8-5) on a rainy evening in West Branch.
The win was the fourth straight for West Branch which closed the most successful regular season in the short history of the program at 10-1.
“It means a lot,” Gingerich said. “We all wanted to come in and win this game, we knew it was going to be tough and we fought all the way through.”
Mid-Prairie held Miller, the second leading scorer in the state with 38 goals, without a goal for just the second time in 11 matches this season but the Bears had plenty of other players step up.
Senior Kelby Burger fed freshman Joe Hamann for a goal with 19:19 left in the opening half that gave West Branch an early advantage.
Mid-Prairie got a second-half equalizer from sophomore Owen Trimpe but Gingerich, Miller and West Branch had an answer.
Miller found Gingerich with a nicely placed pass and the junior put it away for his 11th goal of the season to give the Bears a 2-1 cushion with 1:19 left.
“Our backs kicked it up and Peyton had a beautiful pass to me and somehow I made it in,” Gingerich said. “Me and goalie collided but there was no call.”
A West Branch team that entered with 59 goals in 10 matches this season relied on its defense on Friday.
Senior keeper Cael Fiderlein had 12 saves and while allowing just the one goal, his tenth given up this season.
“Our backs played really well,” Gingerich said. “They hardly let anything back there, they played a really good game.”
West Branch will open postseason play on Thursday hostingTipton (3-8) in a Class 1A, Substate 4 opener at 5 p.m.