Trojans Headed for District Championship Showdown With DeWitt

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Tuesday, October 15, 2019, 4:30 pm
Mark Meyer

(Photo courtesy of the Michigan High School Athletic Association)

Big moments require big plays, and East Lansing senior forward Benno Staszewski saved one of his best for the postseason.

Staszewski’s sixth goal of the season in the 28th minute of the first half Monday night gave East Lansing all the scoring it would need to defeat St. Johns 2-0 and advance to Thursday night’s district championship against DeWitt at Archer Stadium.

Staszewski scored shortly after he entered the game on a play that East Lansing head coach Jeff Lyon said set up perfectly for the reserve defender-turned-forward.

“We’ve talked a lot about when you’re in danger, play the ball to the corner,” said Lyon, now in his second season leading the varsity. “The ball was to the outside and Benno got right up on their back, who misplayed it. Benno won the ball and created a goal.”

Lyon wasn’t surprised that once Benno turned on the jets, he wasn’t going to be caught.

“He’s the fastest player on the team,” Lyon said. “I joked earlier today (Monday) at school that Benno was going to score. He made me looked kind of smart.”

Staszewski’s goal broke the ice in what was — to that point — a fairly even match, with much of the play back and forth in the neutral zone.

East Lansing, now 14-3-1 on the season, gave itself some breathing room seven minutes later when senior forward Cade Moreno converted a pass from Mohamad Babale to deposit his 11th goal of the season past a diving St. Johns keeper Spencer Howell.

“Cade has been a workhorse for us,” Lyon said. “We moved him from outside to inside, and he checks the ball very well. His game has really progressed. He’s had a great season and he’s really worked for it.”

East Lansing senior keeper Nekko Criswell-Grinage made four saves to preserve the shutout victory, the Trojans’ fifth in their last six games.

In the first semifinal match Monday, DeWitt defeated Eastern 4-2. Earlier this season East Lansing and DeWitt played to a scoreless tie in a September game halted by severe weather.

“It’ll be a battle,” Lyon said of the matchup between the district’s top two seeds (DeWitt being the No. 1). “They’re very good on set pieces, which we need to defend well. We’re excited to play them.”

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