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.

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

By Geoff Kimmerly 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.