Toune Hits High Note in DeWitt’s 3-2 Victory Over Trojans
Junior midfielder Victor Toune (22) scored twice in the first half to lead DeWitt to the District 20 soccer championship Thursday night at Archer Stadium in East Lansing.
In the dimly lit southeast corner of Archer Stadium, a good distance from the midfield celebration being enjoyed their opponents, the East Lansing varsity boys soccer team Thursday night confronted the finality of a season-ending loss.
DeWitt won the District 20 championship game, 3-2, on the strength of two first-half goals by junior midfielder Victor Toune and the eventual game-winner by junior forward Landon Hungerford with just under 10 minutes to play.
Hungerford’s team-leading 19th goal of the season was set up by Panther junior midfielder Zach Stephan, whose precision pass from the backfield found Hungerford in mid-stride and gaining speed toward the East Lansing goal. Hungerford fought through two Trojans defenders and chipped the ball with his left foot over the outstretched arms of East Lansing keeper Nekko Criswell-Granage.
“I thought Spencer (Powe) did a good defending the play, and Nekko covered the post, but (Hungerford) just made a great shot,” said East Lansing head coach Jeff Lyon. “That’s what goal scorers do. They make big plays at key moments in the game.”
Down 3-1, East Lansing countered quickly and cut the margin to one with 7:32 to play when sophomore forward Evan Metzmaker found the back of the net from long range for his sixth goal of the season past DeWitt keeper Patrick Woodbury.
DeWitt, now 14-3-4, rode out the remaining time to secure a regional berth in Novi next week.
Panthers coach Joe Ishraidi collects the winner’s hardware Thursday night from DeWitt athletic director Mike Brya at Archer Stadium.
“We’ve been so close for so many years so to get this one feels amazing,” said DeWitt coach Joe Ishraidi. “(The second goal by Toune) was huge for us. You can’t teach that; it’s just a great effort. He really stepped up.”
Ishraidi’s pregame focus was making sure East Lansing’s forwards — Jake Isham, Cade Moreno, Mohamad Babale and Lietz — did not get behind the Panther defense for uncontested shots on Woodbury.
“We wanted to force them outside, and not let the ball get over our heads,” Ishraidi said. "For most of the game we were able to do that fairly well.”
East Lansing, which finished the season with a 14-4-1 mark, pressured the DeWitt defense early in the game and ultimately broke through in the 15th minute of play on junior midfielder Drew Lietz’s 11th goal of the season.
The lead didn’t last for long, however, as Toune tallied twice within three minutes, the second goal coming off a free kick from 30 yards away on the left side.
“We didn’t have many games, except for maybe one, that put us under duress like this,” Lyon said. “To go down a goal [quickly] like we did, we struggled with that. The melding of urgency and composure sometimes can be difficult for a team. I’m not saying we lost our composure but we couldn’t find a way to get the equalizer.”
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