Portage Northern claimed Thursday’s first round District #1 soccer match with a tight 2-1 home victory against Kalamazoo Central. The win sends the Huskies to the semifinal Tuesday night against crosstown foe Portage Central, whom they played to a 1-1 draw against earlier this season.
Like last Saturday’s SMAC tournament encounter, PN and KC played to a 2-1 final. Portage Northern beat K-Central for the third time this season, but the contest stayed tight the entire way. The first half was scoreless and nearly dead-even statistically. In the 50th minute, the Huskies broke through as a Brayden Andrews free kick found the head of Cade Smith for a PN goal. 80 seconds later, KC tied the match as a Colin Halloran through ball gave Breven Brill a breakaway goal.
The difference maker came with 5:20 remaining in the match. On a free kick from 28 yards out, Eric Hamilton perfectly shot the ball into the upper corner of the net. Hamilton had also scored the overtime goal Saturday to ultimately push Portage Northern to victory. Jack McDaniel made five saves for PN while Ryan Talanda turned away eight for KC.
Kalamazoo Central finishes the season at 8-6 and graduates two key seniors in Halloran and Brill. Portage Northern improves to 8-6-2 and gets another shot at the Mustangs in Tuesday’s 7 p.m. ET district semifinal at Huskie Stadium. You can listen to both of Tuesday’s semifinals via JoeInsider.com with top-seeded Mattawan facing Loy Norrix in the 5 p.m. opener.