EAST LANSING — Mason’s boys soccer team is no longer the Buffalo Bills of the CAAC Cup.
Junior defender Holden Dippel scored the Bulldogs’ only goal to lift them to their first Gold Cup in their fifth trip to the final, defeating East Lansing 1-0 Thursday night.
“It was a battle for the whole game,” Dippel said. “In Mason’s history, they’ve never won it. So it’s a huge deal for us as a team.”
Mason will now go into next week’s Division 2 district tournament having beaten the top-ranked team in Division 1 in the CAAC Gold Cup semifinal (Okemos, 2-1 in penaltiy kicks on Tuesday) and the second-ranked team in Division 2 in the final – the latter on the Trojans’ home field.
“It feels great,” Mason coach Nick Binder said. “We beat some good teams to win this thing. It’s very gratifying to come here to East Lansing and win today, and beat a very good team that gave us a hard time for the whole game.”
Similar to its semifinal game against Okemos, Mason started out on the back foot, allowing East Lansing to do most of ther attacking for the first half hour. Once the Bulldogs (15-1-2) managed to possess the ball, their goal came quickly.
In a contest with few genuine scoring chances from the run of play, the lone goal of the game came off a corner kick. Kevin Stalzer sent the ball to the far post, and Matt Beck headed it down to Dippel, who turned and half-volleyed it inside the near post with 10:48 left in the first half.
“They got the one break. In a game like this, one break decides it,” East Lansing coach Nick Archer said. “I thought our kids played well enough. We just didn’t get the break we needed.”
The Trojans (17-2) had their best chance of the first half 8:30 before the break, when a 25-yard blast by Zach Lane drew a tough diving save from Mason keeper Noah Thelen. The rebound rattled tantalizingly around in front of the goal before it was finally cleared.
Lane nearly scored directly off of two consecutive corner kicks early in the second half, forcing Thelen to full extension to parry the ball over the bar both times before the third was cleared.
Mason closed out the game without conceding much in the way of genuine scoring chances down the stretch to run out with the hard-fought win.
“It definitely gives us confidence,” Binder said. “We’re feeling good, but we’re going to have a tough district opponent first thing on Thursday. So we have to manage this next week appropriately, get people healthy and hopefully be sharp after the week’s layoff.”
BOYS SOCCER: CAAC CUP
CAAC GOLD CUP
East Lansing 1, Haslett 1 (East Lansing won 5-3 on penalty kicks)
Williamston 2, DeWitt 2 (Williamston won 5-4 on penalty kicks)
Okemos 3, Grand Ledge 1
Mason 2, Jackson 1
East Lansing 4, Williamston 1
Mason 1, Okemos 1 (Mason won 4-2 on penalty kicks)
DeWitt 0, Haslett 0 (DeWitt won 4-2 on penalty kicks)
Grand Ledge 3, Jackson 0
1st: #2 Mason 1, #1 East Lansing 0
3rd: #5 Williamston 1, #3 Okemos 1 (Williamston won 4-2 on penalty kicks)
5th: #4 DeWitt 1, #6 Grand Ledge 0
7th: #7 Jackson 2, #8 Haslett 0
CAAC SILVER CUP
Everett 8, Fowlerville 0
Lansing Eastern 2, St. Johns 0
Owosso 2, Lansing Catholic 0
Holt 4, Eaton Rapids 1
Everett 5, Eastern 5 (Everett won 4-3 on penalty kicks)
Holt 1, Owosso 1 (Holt won 4-1 on penalty kicks)
St. Johns 4, Fowlerville 1
Lansing Catholic 2, Eaton Rapids 0
3rd: #3 Owosso 3, #4 Lansing Eastern 0
5th: #5 St. Johns 2, #6 Lansing Catholic 0
7th: #7 Eaton Rapids 2, #8 Fowlerville 1
1st: #1 Everett 4, #2 Holt 2
CAAC BRONZE CUP
Sexton 3, Portland 1
Ionia 4, Waverly 3
Portland 7, Waverly 0
Ionia 2, Sexton 1
Ionia 4, Portland 0
Sexton 2, Waverly 1
NOTE: Ionia finished 3-0, Sexton 2-1, Portland 1-2, Waverly 0-3