REED CITY — With a bye in the first round of the district playoff, Reed City soccer coach Doug Emington has watched his players’ hard work lend to the team’s progress over the regular season.

The Coyotes enter district action this Thursday in the second round of the district tournament against the winner of Mason County Central and Manistee.

Emington saw more of his team coming together on Oct. 11 even though the Coyotes dropped a 3-2 match on a penalty kick in overtime against Lakeview, a foe they were shutout against earlier in the year.

With a team consisting of mostly freshmen and sophomores, Emington said the players are starting to understand and play against varsity competition.

“We’re seeing progress,” he said. “The players are really understanding that speed at the varsity level is different than AYSO; the physicality is different than AYSO; and even the accuracy is different. When we can string together a few passes, good things happen.”

The bigger, faster Lakeview team struck first on Tuesday, with an early goal from Charles Sweet, on an assist by Riley Nichols just under eight minutes into the match.

Lakeview struck early again in the second half at the 5:27 mark, with Riley Nichols notching a shot from just inside the 18-yard-box.

However, the Coyotes continued to play strong defensively with Brandon Wirth and Connor Golden stepping up as goalkeeper Silas Schultz stayed busy between the posts. As the game became more and more physical, yellow cards were handed out to Lakeview’s Jacob Peasley and Brenden Kurtze and Reed City’s Ty Brocker.

Wirth scored for the Coyotes on the direct kick following the Kurtze yellow card.

“We try to teach them to play within the rules of the game,” Emington said of the physical nature of the match. “Being smaller than a lot of the teams they face, I think they got tired of getting pushed around.”

Three minutes later, a mishandled pass resulted in an own goal, tying the game up for the Coyotes.

Reed City’s defense withstood several Lakeview opportunities late in the second half, sending the game into overtime tied 2-2.

In the second half of the overtime period, Reed City was called for a foul inside the goalie box. Phillip Freese scored on the PK, and the Wildcats preserved the 3-2 win.

“We would have like to come out ahead in the game,” Emington said. “But we feel good that what we’ve been building all year is starting to be seen on the field.”