East Lansing Breaks Free for 4th Title

November 2, 2013

By Tom Kendra
Special to Second Half 

KENTWOOD – Ben Swanson-Ralph was just looking to making something happen, to break the ice.

The senior forward did more than that – scoring what proved to be the game-winning goal late in the first half in East Lansing's 2-0 victory over Spring Lake on Saturday at Crestwood Middle School in the MHSAA Lower Peninsula Division 2 Boys Soccer championship game. 

"Out of all the goals I've ever scored in soccer, this was the best," said Swanson-Ralph, an all-stater last year as a junior, who finished his senior season with 15 goals and 12 assists.

"I've always dreamed about playing in the state championship game and scoring a goal, but to actually have it happen, is indescribable. I'll remember it my whole life." 

Swanson-Ralph picked up a loose ball about 25 yards in front of the goal, slid past a defender and then skidded a low shot into the right side of the net past Spring Lake keeper Joe Czajka. That tally broke a scoreless tie with 10:19 remaining in the first half.

The goal was critical because, up until that point, the game was progressing according to the plan of upset-minded Spring Lake. 

While East Lansing was dominating possession and shots and generally keeping the ball in the Spring Lake end, the Trojans had been unable to break through. The defensive-oriented Lakers, like a boxer that allows his opponent to wear himself out, would have loved to go into halftime with a scoreless tie at cold and windy Pat Patterson Field.

Instead, Swanson-Ralph's goal gave his team the cushion and confidence it needed to open up its high-octane offensive attack, according to 38th-year coach Nick Archer. 

East Lansing, which finished 25-2, won its fourth MHSAA boys soccer championship. The Trojans also won titles in 1987, 2002 and 2005, to go with two runner-up finishes.

"I am so proud of these kids," said Archer, whose team outscored its seven postseason opponents by a combined score of 22-1, including a 3-0 victory over No. 2 Linden in the Regional Final. "There is so much pressure these days. I just want them to enjoy this moment." 

East Lansing, which finished with an 8-3 edge in shots on goal, came out on fire in the second half - with close-range chances by junior DeJuan Jones and sophomore Ian Carroll being stymied by Czajka, the Lakers' last line of defense.

The consistent EL pressure finally broke through again with 33:55 remaining in the game, when Spring Lake was over-aggressive on a corner kick. 

The Trojans countered the Lakers' attack as Jones and Carroll broke into the open and then played a give-and-go game up the length of the artificial field in Kentwood. As they approached the goal, Carroll veered into the corner, drawing a defender, and then gave it back to Jones, who punched it into the back of the net. It was the 28th goal of the season for Jones, the Trojans' leading scorer.

"Ian and I hang out a lot and we know what the other one is thinking," said Jones. "We came out in the second half and tried to turn up the pressure and get another goal. It doesn't matter to us who scores; really, we just want to win." 

The Lakers had a couple of scoring opportunities the rest of the way, notably from senior striker Nic Ellingboe and sophomore Keegan George. The East Lansing defensive corps of Grant Brogan, Michie Nimsombun, Torey Redmond, Andy Millar and goalkeeper Blair Moore were up to the challenge on each occasion to preserve the lead. Moore had to make just one save.

Spring Lake, which finished 16-7-3, played in its second MHSAA championship game in the past three years under 13th-year head coach Jeremy Thelen. The Lakers fell to Auburn Hills Avondale, 2-1, in the 2011 Final. 

This year's Spring Lake team entered the tournament unranked with an underwhelming 10-6-3 record, but gained momentum when it stunned neighboring rival Fruitport, 2-1, in the District Semifinal. Fruitport had defeated Spring Lake twice in the regular season.

"Right now, it's hard for these kids to end with a loss," said Thelen. "But these kids will realize in time what a great season it was, especially since this tournament run was a bit unexpected."

Click for full box score. 

PHOTOS: (Top) East Lansing goalkeeper Blair Moore steps in front of a shot as Spring Lake's Ryan Zietlow attempts to deflect. (Middle) East Lansing's DeJuan Jones (2) heads the ball during Saturday's game. (Click to see more from Hockey Weekly Action Photos.)

Record-Setting Saving, Historic Scoring Send Grosse Ile to 2018 Boys Soccer Finals

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor

May 17, 2024

Grosse Ile’s Division 3 runner-up season in 2018 included multiple MHSAA team records for defensive and offensive success.

The Red Devils set a record with 21 straight shutouts and 24 total over 29 games, and also finished third all-time scoring 158 goals.

Their 23-game winning streak that season remains tied for seventh-longest as Grosse Ile finished 27-2.

See below for more recent additions to the MHSAA boys soccer record book, and click the heading to see the record book in full.

Boys Soccer

Keeper Ethan DeJager and Grandville Calvin Christian were nearly unbeatable in 2020, finishing 19-1-2 and runner-up in Division 4. They set a record allowing only four goals for the season, while DeJager is fourth on the season shutouts list with 19 over those 22 games and tied for the second-longest shutout streak at 13. DeJager was a senior that season.

Seth Davidson capped his four-year varsity career this past fall on three records lists for shutouts – 15 over 22 games this past season, 26 for his career and nine straight as a senior. Berkley as a team also made the fewest goals allowed list, giving up only 11 in finishing 18-2-2.

Caden Saxton capped a memorable four-year Flint Kearsley varsity career in the fall with four entries in the record book. He made the assists list with 27 over 21 games as a senior and also the single-season points list with 65, and made career lists in those categories with 63 assists and 149 points, respectively, over 71 games.

Jonesville advanced in its District this past season with an 8-5 overtime win over Blissfield on Oct. 12, and Warrick Elder played a big part scoring six goals. He’s a senior.

Kalamazoo Hackett Catholic Prep’s run to the Division 4 Semifinals saw contributions from several players, and junior James Whiting was among those leading the way. He made the assists list with 30 over 22 games, and also the total points list with 49. He also sits on the career assists list after three seasons with 66 and one more season to play.

Holland Christian made the team list for 12 straight shutouts from Sept. 8-Oct. 19, and 15 shutouts total over 20 games this past season. Junior Adam Bergman was in goal for all 15 including the 12 consecutive.

Muskegon Oakridge senior Arturo Romero-Serrano capped his career in the fall with his second season reaching 40 goals, netting 42 total to finish his four-year career with 105 and also on the MHSAA career points list with 125. He also added a second six-goal game, against Muskegon Catholic Central on Aug. 25.

Monroe Jefferson’s season came to an end Oct. 11 in a District game against Riverview, but senior Gabe Gelso finished with a state record. He made 49 saves in the 9-0 defeat as the Bears had only eight players total.

Ian Klenk added eight more shutouts in goal this past fall to finish his three-season varsity career with 25 in 60 games and make the career list in that category. He’ll continue his career at Kuyper College.

PHOTO Grosse Ile's keeper Brendan Ebler (1) gathers the ball and charts his next move during the 2018 Division 3 Final.