Grand Rapids FC began preparation for its second NPSL season on Saturday evening, playing Davenport University in a scrimmage at Pat Patterson Field in Kentwood. In a balanced affair, it was a penalty kick that proved to be the difference as Davenport downed GRFC, 1-0.
The opening half was rather quiet, with each side trying to feel the other out. Davenport had a number of opportunities in the opening half hour, but none that threatened GRFC keeper Dary DeWalt.
Newcomer Caleb Postlewait saw a chance on goal in the 42nd minute for Grand Rapids, but his effort was saved.
Early in the second half, DeWalt had an impressive one-on-one save that kept the game scoreless, turning aside a shot from the top of the box after a Davenport counterattack.
In the 59th minute, a three-on-two rush saw an opportunity for GRFC. Running through the middle of the pitch, Joe Broekhuizen laid the ball off to his right for Noble Sullivan, whose ensuing shot was right at the Davenport keeper.
The Panthers then got on the board in the 78th minute, drawing a foul in the box to earn a penalty kick, which they converted.
Two minutes later, GRFC was inches away from equalizing. Off a corner kick, captain Tony Deakin collected the ball out of the scrum and put a shot on frame that was cleared off the line by a Davenport defender.
In the remaining ten minutes, the Boys in Blue were unable to equalize as Davenport earned the win in GRFC’s first full match of the year.
“We just started training this week – it was good for some of the older guys to get their legs under them, to get some time on the field,” said head coach George Moni “Most of the guys got some good time, 70 or 80 minutes out there. We will have a large roster this year. We have 16 college guys on the roster, guys we will introduce in the next few weeks.”
Grand Rapids FC will continue its preparation with another scrimmage next Saturday against Hope College. The Boys in Blue will again play at Pat Patterson Field, with opening whistle set for 7 p.m.