GARDEN CORNERS - The Big Bay de Noc Black Bears and Escanaba-based Bayside Soccer Club were unable to dent the scoreboard against Sault Ste. Marie Saturday as the Blue Devils captured the Big Bay Invitational title.
Sault blanked Big Bay 5-0 in its opener, followed by a 2-0 conquest of defending champion Bayside.
"This was a very good effort by our kids," said Sault coach Jerry Azevedo. "This is a wonderful little tournament. We enjoy coming here."
Bayside then salvaged a 3-0 victory over the Black Bears in the finale.
Diego Wilhelms gave the Blue Devils their two-goal cushion against Bayside on a header with seven minutes, 24 seconds left in the contest.
Saw Ka Yar scored Sault's first goal on a breakaway midway through the first half.
"This was a good match," said Sault Azavedo. "Take nothing away from the Bayside team. Their kids played their hearts out. Big Bay played hard, too. They just ran out of gas in the end."
Bayside failed to score on three penalty shots and Sault missed its lone penalty chance.
"Sault puts a lot of pressure on you," said Bayside coach Glenn Gregg. "They have a strong team and had us back on our heels a little. They always have fast players. They also have great passers in the middle."
In the opener, Big Bay trailed Sault just 1-0 at halftime. The Blue Devils (9-2), however, scored four times in the second half.
David Coliero hit a pair of goals and Wilhelms and Bret Weber added one apiece. Big Bay also inadvertently put the ball into its own net in the second half.
Sault, which hosts Harbor Springs today, fired 31 shots on goal. The Black Bears had eight.
In the finale, Bayside's Tyler Borkadi scored on a rebound and Keegan Porath's shot from point-blank range raised the count to 2-0 midway through the first half.
James Bruce then ended the scoring from approximately 20 feet in front of the net early in the second half.
This marked the third meeting between the friendly rivals this season. The first match ended in a 1-1 tie in Escanaba on Aug. 25. Bayside then won the second meeting 2-1 in the 12th round of a shootout Sept. 8 at Garden Corners.
"We basically decided to play in our same mode as in our two previous matches," said Gregg. "I think having a shorter time off between matches worked to our advantage. I'd rather have our players back on the field for the next match.
"Big Bay is more competitive this year. They have a longer bench and can stay right with us."
The teams decided to conduct a mock shootout after the match, in which all players and coaches got their chance to beat the opposing goaltender.
"That was fun," said Big Bay coach Gary Sporer. "We always have so much fun with Bayside, and I think the mock shootout helps both teams. Kids who normally don't get a chance to score had that opportunity.
"Bayside didn't have all their kids today, and we decided to loosen our defense a little and play our attacking set. We did some good things. I think we learned a lot today."
Bayside (5-2-1) hosts Marquette jayvee I Tuesday at 5 p.m. The Black Bears (0-7-1) visit Iron Mountain Tuesday at 5:30 (EDT).