Grand Rapids Christian Completes Late-Season Surge with 3rd Finals Title

By Scott DeCamp
Special for

November 6, 2021

COMSTOCK PARK – Grand Rapids Christian’s boys soccer team didn’t really start clicking until the MHSAA Tournament began with Districts 3½ weeks ago.

Once the Eagles got rolling, however, they could not be stopped.

Grand Rapids Christian struck twice early in the Division 2 Final against Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice on Saturday at Comstock Park High School and made those goals stand in a 2-1 victory.

It was the first MHSAA soccer championship in 20 years for the Eagles (17-7-2), who reeled off seven-straight wins in tourney play after losing four of their last six regular-season games and tying another.

“Really, (the Eagles began to believe) once we started the tournament. We started getting on a roll, things started clicking and then after that it just started rolling for us,” said Grand Rapids Christian senior Benjamin Kuiper, whose goal with 17:22 left in the first half gave his team a 2-0 lead and proved the winner.

“I felt like after the win against Gull Lake, that was really when we were at our highest and our peak. After tonight, it’s just amazing – it’s great.”

Grand Rapids Christian, which was No. 13 in the last Michigan High School Soccer Coaches Association Division 2 rankings, knocked out No. 1 Gull Lake in Wednesday’s Semifinal, 2-1.

The Eagles also took out No. 8 Petoskey and No. 9 Spring Lake in last week’s Regional.

Brother Rice (10-7-4), which was making its first Finals appearance in a dozen years, had lost three of its last four regular-season games and tied in the other entering the District tourney. The Warriors, who were nowhere to be found in the state rankings, punched their ticket to the Finals with a shootout win over DeWitt in Wednesday’s other Semifinal.

“Putting the school back on the map in the soccer sense,” Brother Rice coach Danny Price said of this season’s success. “Not a lot of people, including the press, were thinking about Brother Rice, and rightly so after the last seven or eight years.

“Just so much to be proud of: District title, Regional title. Everything we’ve done this season has been perfect. (The Eagles are) a good team – take nothing away from them.”

Grand Rapids Christian got on the board with 27:32 left in the first half when senior Hans Pruis beat the Brother Rice keeper to a loose ball and knocked it into the net.

Immediately following Pruis’ tally, as well as Kuiper’s 10 minutes later, the Eagles goal-scorers and their teammates sprinted over to the stands on the south side of the field and celebrated in front of a large student section. 

Grand Rapids Christian/Brother Rice soccerTrailing 2-0 at halftime, Brother Rice came out in the second half with much more urgency. The Warriors pulled within 2-1 with 13:54 remaining, when senior Romas Mitrius scored on a header off junior Enzo Bordogna’s free kick.

That proved the only blemish on the day for Grand Rapids Christian junior keeper Alexander Scofield, who finished with nine saves. Junior Henry Allen made six saves for Brother Rice, which was outshot 13-10.

Eagles coach Aric Dershem acknowledged his team went to more of a defensive approach in the second half, knowing that the Warriors were going to turn up the intensity.

“Oh, man, (Scofield) came up so huge today, yes. Coming into this season, he was fighting for the starting spot and he just came up huge every opportunity that he had – even in the Semifinal against Gull Lake, he kept us in the game,” Dershem said. 

“A keeper can’t win the game, but they can lose you the game, and he kept us in the game today long enough that we could just hold on and get the win.”

Grand Rapids Christian surrendered only four goals during the postseason.

Scofield admitted he was a little nervous in the second half, but he and the defense in front of him got the job done.

“My coaches like to say, 2-0 up at halftime is the worst lead to have because they score once, they’ve got most of the momentum; they score again, they’ve got all of the momentum and they’re more likely to score again. So we were a little nervous, especially after they scored that first goal,” Scofield said. “But our defense managed to pull through.”

Grand Rapids Christian’s seniors lingered around the Comstock Park stadium to take photos with the championship trophy, which will go alongside the Eagles’ titles from 2001 and 1998.

Kuiper was one of the players savoring the moment, which some may have not thought possible as recently as a month ago.

“Oh, it’s amazing,” Kuiper said. “The past few years, we haven’t been doing the best in the tournament, so it feels amazing to go all the way.”

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS (Top) Grand Rapids Christian’s Eli Leegwater (22) and teammates celebrate during Saturday’s Division 2 Final. (Middle) The Eagles’ Evan Thornton (8) and Rice keeper Henry Allen work to gain possession. (Photos by Hockey Weekly Action Photos.)

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.