Riverview soccer team closes out historic season

The Riverview High School Boys Soccer team had a historic season. 

The Coach Ben Zolynsky’s club went 19-2, won the Monroe Invitational, Huron League championship, a Michigan High School Athletic Association Division 2 district championship and reached the MHSAA D2 regional finals.

During the regular season, Riverview defeated defending Division 3 state champion and archrival Grosse Ile on a late goal and used that victory as a springboard to the Huron League championship, the school’s first since 2015.

The state tournament began with an easy 7-2 win over neighboring Trenton.

Salvador De La Torre and Gustavo Soto got it rolling scoring four goals and handing out five assists between the two of them to propel the3 Pirates into the district finals. 

The district final, against Carlson, was a battle. 

Carlson’s defense played an outstanding game, with their keeper stopping multiple shots from a Riverview team that averaged over five goals a game and scored 106 goals in 21 games this season.

Soto scored early on a cross from Caden Demers that he nailed into the net. Riverview kept the pressure on and finally scored again, Zolynsky called it, “the goal of the year.” 

Jacob Bias took a long throw in that bounced out to defender Sean McGovern. McGovern watched it bounce and then took the half volley shot of his life and smashed it into the left corner of the goal. 

Up 2-0 the game seemed to be going great until Riverview gave up a penalty kick that Carlson scored on with five minutes left. 

Carlson tried to push forward after that, but Riverview’s defense was too much and the Pirates celebrated their first district championship since 2012.

The first round of regionals is as far as any Riverview team had ventured before this season. But the 2020 Bucs made some more history by becoming the first squad to win a regional game and reach what is effectively the “Elite Eight” of MHSAA soccer.

Riverview faced and defeated Chelsea in what turned out to be a showcase for the Riverview defense and goalkeeper Scotty Grundwald.

“This is special.” said Zolynsky. “My guys will remember this game for the rest of their lives. All of their first time to regionals.  Only 16 teams left in Division 2 and our game is against a really tough team from Chelsea.” 

The game was a battle from the start. Both teams had several good scoring chances in the first half. But the second half was a different story. 

It was all Chelsea, but the Riverview defense was up to the task, especially senior captain Andrew Ray and Grunwald, another senior, who had the game of his life.  

Grundwald made 17 saves in the game to keep the 0-0 tie going into overtime and then double overtime. 

Riverview continued to defend in both overtimes getting only a couple of scoring opportunities. Then came the shootout. 

Chelsea’s goalie had not had to make many saves after the first half, but the ones he did make were really good. 

But this is a Scotty Grunwald story. His confidence was incredible going into the shootout and he ended up saving the first two Chelsea penalty kicks. 

Riverview Sophomore Mathew Wong scored Riverview’s first PK, but the next two Pirates had their shots saved. 

Riverview’s fourth shooter was freshman Logan Ruffner, who buried it into the back of the net, but so did the Chelsea player. 

All tied up it came down to the last shooters. Senior Salvador De La Torre got the goalie going the wrong way scoring for the Pirates. 

It all down to the last shooter. Grundwlad had had the best game of his life and he needed one more save to give Riverview it’s first ever regional win, but he wasn’t called on to make it because the Chelsea player sailed the ball over the net and the Pirates stormed the field in celebration. History had been made.

The Bucs fell 6-1 to DeWitt the next time out and the magical season ended.

 “There were a lot of tears,” said Zolynsky. “It was just because this crazy season was over. A season we didn’t even know if we were going to get to play. A season of firsts. A season we made Riverview soccer history. (We were) 19-2 with our only losses coming from two teams (DeWitt and Grosse Ile) still playing in the Final Four for a state championship.  A season with wins over almost the entire Downriver area. A season with nine seniors that really took on the belief in this soccer family.” 

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