West, Central tie 1-1 in first meeting of the season

Apr. 17—TRAVERSE CITY — The Traverse City West Titans have found their goalkeeper for the season.

West senior goalkeeper Claire Miner had never played in net until this season and is already making an impression on second-year West head coach Ed Fantozzi.

Miner has three shutout wins and allowed just four goals through five games.

"(Claire) is a heaven-sent because it was a gift for us to get her," Fantozzi said. "She is doing a phenomenal job for us."

Miner continued her stellar season Tuesday at the Trojan Athletic Complex with a 1-1 tie against crosstown rival Traverse City Central (2-1-2, 0-0-1 Big North). Despite tying, the Titans move to 3-1-1 overall, making it their best start to the season since 2021.

West and Central have only tied three times since 2010, with the last one happening in 2016.

"A tie is fine. It's points, and it's early in the conference. So points coming out of the first conference game is never a bad thing," Central head coach Charley Needham said.

In the last 33 meetings, the Titans have a 26-4-3 record against the Trojans. West and Central won't see face off again until May 2 at West.

The Trojans began their Big North Conference play Tuesday as the reigning BNC champions, and Needham said the team is hungry to bring home another Big North title after playing in the first conference match of the season.

"It's a great group of girls, and they're hungry," Needham said. "They're here to win games and ideally looking to make a repeat of last year and just stay on top."

Both teams took their chances at the net with the gusty winds blowing over 30 miles per hour.

Central and West had a handful of looks in the first half, but it was the Trojans who broke the nil-nil tie first with senior Addison Booher scoring on a breakaway to put the Trojans ahead 1-0 at the 17:52 mark.

"We had a game plan walking into this, and (Claire) did what I thought might've happened," Fantozzi said. "We didn't plan to get scored on, but it happens."

The Trojans kept taking their chances in hopes of extending the lead, but Miner was back in fine form and saved anything that came her way.

The Trojans went into halftime ahead 1-0, but the Titans didn't go away quietly.

West held possession of the ball for a chunk of the second half, and it worked in their favor. Sophomore Avery Plummer tied it up with an assist from sophomore Harper Nelson with 26 minutes remaining.

Both teams, throughout the second half, had chances to jump ahead, but the goalkeepers stood their ground. West outshot Central six to five, but Trojans' junior goalkeeper Amelia Jordan did what she could to keep the rivalry game tied.

"Amelia is great. She is solid back there. One of the best in the north, if not the best one tonight," Needham said. "We're happy to have her."

Fantozzi, the second-year head coach, has the Titans believing they can return to their glory days. After finishing last season 9-8-2 with a young roster, the Titans believe they have a shot at their first BNC title since 2021.

"This year's team is phenomenal. We want to step on the field. We want to play the best game we can," Fantozzi said. "If we can walk off the field saying we did, it won't matter what the score is because I am going to be proud of them."

The Titans close out their two-game road stint at Gaylord on Thursday before returning home to host Harbor Springs on Saturday. The Trojans remain home until May 2 as Petoskey comes to town on Thursday.