D3 Rematch Becomes Grosse Ile Repeat

November 7, 2020

By Perry A. Farrell
Special for Second Half

NOVI – In a repeat of last year’s MHSAA Division 3 championship soccer game, Grosse Ile and senior Bosh Tanyi again edged Grand Rapids South Christian to close the season Saturday.

Tanyi’s goal with 26 minutes, 34 seconds left in the second half untied a defensive struggle, and the Red Devils retained their title with a 1-0 victory over the Sailors.

Grosse Ile had won last year’s championship 2-1 in a shootout over South Christian, and the Sailors were looking for revenge.

Instead, Tanyi’s goal – with an assist from sensational freshman Ali Khlaled – gave the Red Devils their second title in their third-straight trip to the championship game. The goal was Tanyi’s 49th of the season.

“We started going forward more in the second half,’’ said Tanyi. “In the first half we got stuck in our backline. They opened up in the second half, and we did too. I feel like we got more shots on net, and it was going our way.

“I turned around on a goalkeeper clearance and I saw Ali get the ball and I started making a run across the backline, and he put it perfectly on my foot. I just put it in. I got a little frustrated in the first half.’’

Grosse Ile lost goalkeeper Hayden Watson to an injury early in the first half. Junior midfielder Clayton Lafayette was solid in net until Watson returned.

“I went up for the ball, and the sun was in my eyes and he got me right here,’’ said Watson, pointing to his hamstring. “I think it overstretched a little bit, and it started getting better as the game proceeded.

“I did my part. I trusted the guys to do theirs. We executed the game. There were good shots on net. I just had to hold them.’’

When he returned Watson was sensation, stifling every scoring attempt the Sailors were able to mount.

There weren’t many.

The teams combined for three shots on frame in a first half that didn’t see much offense.

“The first couple of minutes of the second half, things got better,’’ said Tanyi.

Tanyi’s first shot came 10 minutes into the second half. Four minutes later, he scored what proved to be the game-winner for the Red Devils, who finished the year 20-1. South Christian suffered its first loss of the season and fell to 18-1-1.

Both goalies were stellar as Nick Schepers nearly matched Watson in net, except for Tanyi’s goal.

“There weren’t a lot of shots, and that usually happens in the finals,’’ said South Christian coach Jason Boersma. “We gave up one opportunity on the weak side on the breakaway. They buried it. That’s what it takes to win. You get your few opportunities, you put it away, and they did it. So, I’m impressed by them.

Winning coach Jon Evans was impressed with his team being able to beat the Sailors in consecutive years, knowing South Christian would be ready.

“It definitely wasn’t easy,’’ said Evans. “I knew they were going to throw everything at us. We were able to hold on for 80 minutes. If you look at the start of the season, I felt like this could have been the matchup on this date. It ended up being that way. 

“We started five sophomores and a freshman today. We battled. These kids play at a pretty high level. They bought into their roles, that they filled in from the eight starters they lost last year on the team that won in 2019. Kudos to all the boys. They worked their butts off for 80 minutes straight, and they deserve this.’’

Grosse Ile improved to 3-1 all-time in MHSAA Finals.

Click for the full stat summary.  

PHOTOS: (Top) Grosse Ile's Bosh Tanyi celebrates his game-winning goal Saturday against Grand Rapids South Christian. (Middle) Tanyi goes to the turf as he sends his shot into the net. (Photos by Hockey Weekly Action Photos.)

Storch Returns to Retirement After Elevating Alpena Teams From Cellar to Contenders

By Tom Spencer
Special for MHSAA.com

December 16, 2022

It wasn’t long ago that Alpena boys and girls soccer opponents took their long bus rides to play the Wildcats expecting an easy win, and most likely by securing the victory by the eight-goal differential rule, commonly known as the “mercy rule.”

Worse yet, the Wildcats also had to take those trips across the northern part of the Lower Peninsula, as well as northern and southern journeys of two hours, dreading thoughts of experiencing yet another shortened game.

Those expectations started to change in 2011, when Tim Storch, arguably the most decorated coach in the history of Michigan high school soccer, took the reins of the Wildcats’ boys and girls programs.  

Storch made the move after retiring from Troy Athens as a teacher and coach of the Redhawks’ boys and girls soccer teams.

Slowly but surely, Alpena’s mercy losses disappeared – and wins over their Big North Conference opponents became reality. Under Storch, the Wildcats went from the cellar to challenging for titles.

But now, Storch is showing some mercy on the Big North – perhaps an early Christmas present. The conference schools won’t see him on sidelines any longer. He’s retiring – again.   

Storch is doing so after leading the Wildcats to wins over all conference opponents except Traverse City West. The Wildcats did get a tie this fall against the Titans, one of the BNC schools that regularly makes a deep postseason run, as Alpena stayed in the league title race most of the season.

“When I came to Alpena it was about trying to make the program relevant in the school, the community, the area, the BNC and northern Michigan,” Storch recalled. “We got to that point after some growing pains. 

“Early on we took our lumps, and we were mercied by everybody,” he continued. “By the end we were competitive with everybody.”

Storch, who started the Athens soccer programs from scratch in 1981, won eight Class A or Division 1 Finals titles with the Redhawks. He’s near the top of the lists of the winningest boys and girls soccer coaches in the state. The last of his 1,109 wins was a 3-1 victory over Bay City Western during this fall’s postseason.  

The Wildcats also beat conference opponent Cadillac in their District opener. They finished 14-6-3 on the season.   

Storch will be dearly missed in Northern Michigan, veteran Petoskey boys and girls coach Zach Jonker pointed out. Jonker’s Northmen picked up a victory over Alpena in the Division 2 District Final – also Storch’s last game. 

"Tim has had a legendary career as one of the most influential figures in Michigan high school soccer over the past 40 years while having an enormous impact on thousands of student-athletes,” Jonker said. “Over the past decade, Tim helped to dramatically raise the overall level of play in the Big North. 

Storch, holding the microphone, elevated the Wildcats’ girls and boys programs since taking over both in 2011. “He is one of fiercest competitors I have ever coached against, but he is also one of the most genuine and empathetic coaches I have ever encountered,” Jonker continued. “I feel fortunate to have been able to build a competitive relationship with him and call him a friend."

Storch’s last game with the Alpena girls also was a District Final, a 3-0 loss May 31 to West.

Storch is proud of what the Wildcats accomplished, noting logistics — unlike in southeastern Michigan — were a big challenge.

“We were an island,” Storch said. “We were big school in the middle of nowhere. 

“We couldn’t get together and have any kind of summer program with other communities because they didn’t have soccer, and if they had soccer they were at a Class D or C level that was way beneath what we were playing in the Big North.”

Storch’s tenure, which included six years serving as the Wildcats’ athletic director while coaching, drew accolades from his coaches and athletic directors. In addition to Jonker, Gaylord AD Christian Wilson, and West boys head coach and girls assistant coach Matt Griesinger gave high praise.

They are among those who will miss the successful coach.

“Tim leaves Alpena in better shape than when he arrived, and that is the true mark of a great coach and administrator,” Wilson said. “He has been an outstanding representative of Alpena High School, both as a soccer coach and as an athletic director. 

“Tim brought a level of stability and expertise and was well-thought of by players, coaches, and community members.”

Griesinger, who has led the Titans to considerable postseason success and upheld BNC dominance since taking over the West program eight seasons ago, was particularly impressed with Storch’s energy and passion for his players evident in every match.

“Tim is one of the most respected coaches in the state, and what he has done for the soccer communities in both Troy and Alpena is not just commendable, but also something that every high school coach should hope to emulate,” Griesinger stated. “Storch is a stand-up guy, and all of us other coaches in the BNC should consider ourselves lucky that our journeys in the sport overlapped.”

Storch is leaving Michigan high school sports as they face a shortage of referees and qualified coaches. He’s not certain of the exact reasons for it, but he points to time constraints and pressures faced on and off the field.

And, he knows the days of a teacher starting a career, coaching sports and sticking with it are long gone.

“My wife has always said I was a dinosaur,” Storch said with a chuckle. “Back in my day, even if you had family and kids, you still made time for coaching. 

“Coaching was part of my fiber — it kind of defined me.”

Storch is quick to point out “soccer coach” was just one of three hats he wore, along with history teacher and friend.

“I’m Mr. Storch to my students,” he recalls telling his student-athletes at Athens. “I’m Coach to my kids, and I am Tim to my friends.

“They are three different hats; I learned how to wear them and how to balance them.”

Storch looks back to all the friendships he’s made around the game of soccer – with former players, fellow coaches, and referees – with excitement for the future.  

He is also keeping in mind former players, referees and coaches who have passed on.

“It is kind of humbling when I think back all the years (to) coaches, referees and players I have interacted with,” he said. “We’re all here for a finite time. 

“We need to make the most of it and hopefully leave the place a better place when we leave.”

Tom Spencer is a longtime MHSAA-registered basketball and soccer official, and former softball and baseball official, and he also has coached in the northern Lower Peninsula area. He previously has written for the Saginaw News, Bay County Sports Page and Midland Daily News. He can be reached at tomspencer@chartermi.net with story ideas for Manistee, Wexford, Missaukee, Roscommon, Ogemaw, Iosco, Alcona, Oscoda, Crawford, Kalkaska, Grand Traverse, Benzie, Leelanau, Antrim, Otsego, Montmorency, Alpena, Presque Isle, Cheboygan, Charlevoix and Emmet counties.

PHOTOS (Top) Recently-retired Alpena soccer coach Tim Storch, left, talks things over with one of his players. (Middle) Storch, holding the microphone, elevated the Wildcats’ girls and boys programs since taking over both in 2011. (Photos courtesy of Therese Shaw.)