Chips blank Coyotes to advance

MANISTEE — Speed is hard to counter and it took less than two minutes for Manistee to show it had more than Reed City.

Mallory Stefanski sprinted to a breakaway goal just 97 seconds into the game to set the tone as Manistee rolled to a 5-0 win against Reed City in Tuesday’s Division 3 district quarterfinal at Chippewa Field.

“We wanted to get a good start,” said Manistee coach Rudy Guillen. “I told them we need to hit them hard first and get them back on their heels a little bit. They’ve had a rough season, so I figured if we can get to them real quick, that will kind of deflate them a little bit.”

Manistee (10-4-3), which is 7-0-1 in its last eight games, advances to Thursday’s 7 p.m. district semifinal against host Ludington, which beat Kingsley 4-1 on Tuesday. Big Rapids beat Mason County Central 5-0 on Tuesday to advance to Thursday’s 5 p.m. semifinal against Benzie Central.

Stefanski netted a hat trick and Georgia Hiipakka scored a pair of goals as Manistee took advantage of a handful of breakaways against Reed City (0-8-2).

“They’re fast up the middle and around the outside and everything,” said Reed City coach Bryan Hall. “It’s hard to match speed.”

Briana Larsen recorded the shutout in goal for Manistee after making 11 saves while the Chippewas had 10 shots of their own.

“She made some nice saves and they took some good shots at her,” Guillen said. “A little bit of work back there doesn’t hurt either.”

The first shot of the game came as Stefanski took a lead feed from Alma Brinkman to score on a breakaway with 38:23 left in the first half.

“We played pretty well,” Stefanski said. “We had some good touches, made a few mistakes, but it all worked out in the end.”

The Coyotes countered with a few scoring chances of their own, but couldn’t convert.

“We had four or five quality opportunities of our own; that’s probably the most quality opportunities we had without scoring,” Hall said. “Those are us just not being able to finish. We were right there on the doorstep.”

Hiipakka took a pass from Lexie Adams and scored on a rush up the right side with a shot from just outside the 6-yard box with 25:07 left in the first half. Sophie Shriver lifted a pass over the defense to Hiipakka, who scored from a similar spot with 11:48 left in the first half.

“If it would have been 3-2 at the half like it could have been, it would have been a different ballgame, maybe,” Hall said. “The girls played pretty flat the second half. I don’t know if they saw the writing on the wall.”

Stefanski added two more unassisted breakaway goals in the second half — the first with 31:34 left and the second, to complete the hat trick, with 8:52 to play.

“There’s some things that we certainly still need to work on,” Guillen said, “but overall we looked pretty good.”