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06 / 06

Lansing United Advances to Milk Cup Final on Penalties

WRITTEN BY: Ben Lewis
PUBLISHED ON: June 06, 2018

EAST LANSING, Mich — Goalkeeper Joe White did what he had to do in goal to put his team in position to win. In the end, he did it himself.

Despite a rough start from the Hoops and an early goal for Grand Rapids FC, Lansing United managed to tie the match at 1-1 and force extra time and penalty kicks in Wednesday’s Milk Cup semifinal matchup. The Hoops emerged with a 4-3 PK victory, following both offensive and defensive heroics from White.

“You can tell with this group. They don’t stop, they don’t give up,” said head coach Nate Miller after the game. “Penalties are all about mentality, your focus. It’s just a total test of the mind and our guys proved it today”

Grand Rapids applied pressure throughout the first half, finishing with four shots on goal to Lansing’s zero. Despite this shot disadvantage, the Hoops defense and goalkeeper Joe White managed to hold the score to a draw for most of the first half.

GRFC struck first, when Kieran Geldenhuys snuck a shot past White in the 36th minute. This goal would stand as the only point of the game going into halftime.

GRFC managed to continue pressing their advantage for much of the second half, but United began to find their footing as the half wore on, with the Hoops delivering several promising runs, crosses and even a 66th minute shot from midfielder DeJuan Jones. However, GRFC managed to maintain their lead.

The Hoops were eventually able to beat GRFC’s goalkeeper Noah Fazekas, when Jones took an assist from Kyle Carr and buried it in the back of the net in the 89th minute.

“I just found a little a space and made sure there was nobody behind me,” said Jones. “ I saw the ball in the air, felt like it was coming to me, and just finished it.”

Despite several opportunities for each side and a red card for Lansing’s Danny Wright in the 96th, the teams remained deadlocked after 30 minutes of extra time, sending the game to penalty kicks to determine the outcome.

After falling behind early in PKs, White managed to rise and stop the GRFC shooters, and then score a goal himself to secure the victory.

“I was always confident,” said White in his postgame interview. “I love taking penalties, I take them everyday in practice. I take them for my school. It’s all about confidence as the goal kicker.”

“It’s a tough day at the office and obviously a really fun way to end the game for the fans and players,” said Miller. “I’m happy for the guys and how they finished the game.”

Lansing United will continue its PDL season on the road against the Dayton Dutch Lions in a battle for first place in the Great Lakes Division.