GR Catholic Central Clinches 1st Title

November 5, 2016

By Dan Stickradt
Special for Second Half

ROCHESTER HILLS — There’s a ton of pressure being ranked No. 1 in the state, a target for every opponent to try to knock off the perch.

There’s ample pressure just being ranked in the top 20 in one of the state’s four divisions.

Top-ranked Grand Rapids Catholic Central understood that fact entering the Division 3 postseason. 

In a tournament where upsets were the norm, the Cougars kept their composure and made a run to the school’s first boys soccer MHSAA championship with a 1-0 victory Saturday over fourth-ranked Flint Powers Catholic in the Division 3 Final at Rochester Stoney Creek High School. 

Catholic Central (19-1-4) defeated four ranked teams in its final four games of the postseason and outscored its six postseason opponents by a 21-4 margin.

“It was a challenge with so many good teams out there. But there were some life lessons about being No. 1 and playing like it. A lot of life lessons just about getting here,” smiled Catholic Central coach Brian Hughes. “I told them before the game that I didn’t really care if we won today or lost. They already won based on the (journey) to get here and the fact that we had to beat some really good teams to play in the state finals. They did it together. No one individual accomplished this.”

It marked the first-ever Finals appearance for Catholic Central, which took over the top spot in the Oct. 9 coaches association rankings and firmly held its position. The Cougars, who had never won a Regional before this season, solidified their lofty ranking on the season’s final day. 

On the counterattack, Catholic Central broke the stalemate with 25:29 in the first half with its first shot attempt of the contest. 

Junior forward Langston Cooper broke free down the right side before slipping a cross into the penalty box. Sophomore forward Jim O’Neal was in open space to one-time a shot from six yards out past Powers goalkeeper Brendan Tilden.

“I was in the right position. But to be honest it was all Langston. He did all the work down the side to get the cross over to the middle,” said O’Neal, who recorded just his sixth goal of the season. “It was unusual to score on our first shot, but we’ll take it any way we can get it.”

Defensively, Catholic Central stifled several of Powers Catholic’s attempts. Anchored by senior center back Josh Steffes, a Division I college prospect, and junior goalkeeper Noah Hughes, GRCC left the Chargers (17-4-3) completely frustrated and unsatisfied.

“We’ve had some good talent in the past — all the talent in the world. We just could never get it done before,” said Steffes. “We knew since the beginning of the season that this was possible.”

Catholic Central shut down the Powers Catholic foursome of Chase Knoblock, Bryan Lendzion, Steven Tuttle and Mason Smith, who came in with a combined 52 goals on the season. Powers had outscored its six previous postseason opponents by a commanding 27-2 margin with four shutouts in the playoffs and 11 total clean sheets on the season.

“We had a great run, but to be honest I don’t care if we were ranked fourth or 104th. I don’t think the guys are satisfied for just being here,” said Powers Catholic coach Tony Rowe. “We have a ton of juniors coming back, and I know they’ll remember what it feels like to lose this game.” 

Powers Catholic came out and controlled play for most of the first half, with a shot by Knoblock only 20 seconds into the game which Hughes leapt high to snare. The Chargers just could not penetrate Catholic Central’s defense, which yielded just 20 goals over 24 games. 

“I am proud of this group for what they accomplished the past few years,” continued Rowe. “The seniors set the tone. We’ve won league championships, Districts and Regionals over the past (four years). They did a good job of making it here. We had some chances. If we would have put one in early in the game, things might have been different. (Catholic Central) is a very good defensive team. (Their) tall kid, number 11 (Josh Steffes) had them very organized, and they had him shadowing our best offensive player the whole game.” 

Hughes picked up six saves for his team’s 11th clean sheet in 24 games.

Tilden finished with six saves for Powers Catholic, including two where he had to punch aside consecutive shots in the second half by GRCC’s Fernando Garcia.

Both teams traded off 10 shots in the contest, with Catholic Central holding a 7-6 edge with shots directly on frame. There were no corner kicks in the game, although both teams had several long throw-ins into the penalty box.

All attempts were thwarted except O’Neal’s games-winning tally.

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS: (Top) Grand Rapids Catholic Central’s Fernando Garcia (7) works for possession against Flint Powers Catholic’s Dominic Ruth. (Middle) GRCC’s Langston Cooper (4) gets position while Trevor Purman defends.

Be the Referee: Soccer Offsides or Goal?

By Paige Winne
MHSAA Marketing & Social Media Coordinator

May 23, 2023

Be The Referee is a series of short messages designed to help educate people on the rules of different sports, to help them better understand the art of officiating, and to recruit officials.

Below is this week's segment – Soccer Offsides or Goal? - Listen

Today we’re on the soccer field for another You Make the Call.

Team A has a throw-in near midfield. Team A’s No. 9 is clearly in an offside position when the throw-in comes directly to her. She collects the ball and kicks it past the keeper and into the goal. What’s the call?

Should the referee:

► Award an indirect free kick to Team B?

► Award a goal kick to Team B?

► Award a re-take of the throw-in to Team A?

► Award a goal to Team A?

If you said, "Award a goal to Team A" … you are correct, despite the goal-scorer being in a clear offsides position.

The soccer rulebook states that a player shall not be penalized for offsides if she receives the ball directly from a goal kick, corner kick or throw-in. It’s a legal play – and counts as a goal.

Previous Editions:

May 16: Track & Field Exchange Zones - Listen
May 9: Girls Lacrosse Self-Start - Listen
May 2: Baseball/Softball Overthrow - Listen
April 25: Fifth-Quarter/Third-Half Rule - Listen
April 18: Soccer Referee in Play? - Listen
April 11: Softball Strikeout - Listen
March 14: Basketball Instant Replay - Listen
March 7: Hockey Overtime - Listen
Feb. 28: Baker Bowling - Listen
Feb. 21: Ski Finish - Listen
Feb. 14: Swimming Touchpads - Listen
Feb. 7: In or Out-of-Bounds in Wrestling - Listen
Jan. 31: Over the Back - Listen
Jan. 24: Competitive Cheer Judges - Listen
Jan. 17: More Lines - Listen
Jan. 10: On the Line - Listen
Jan. 3: Basketball Measurements - Listen
Dec. 13: Pregame Dunks - Listen
Dec. 6: Gymnastics Judges - Listen
Nov. 22: Football Finals Replay - Listen
Nov. 15: Back Row Illegal Blocker - Listen
Nov. 8: Swim Turn Judges - Listen
Nov. 1: Soccer Referee Jersey Colors - Listen
Oct. 25: Cross Country Tie-Breaker - Listen
Oct. 18: Soccer Shootouts - Listen
Oct. 11: Safety in End ZoneListen
Oct. 4: Football Overtime Penalty - Listen
Sept. 27: Kickoff Goal - Listen
Sept. 20: Soccer Timing - Listen
Sept. 13: Volleyball Replays - Listen
Sept. 6: Switching Sides - Listen
Aug. 30: Play Clock - Listen
Aug. 23: Intentional Grounding Change
- Listen

PHOTO: An official raises his flag during this spring's Trenton/Pontiac Notre Dame Prep game. (Photo by Chris Mudd/National Photo Scout.)