Holland Rides 2nd-Half Surge to 1st Title

November 4, 2017

By Jeff Chaney
Special for Second Half

COMSTOCK PARK – When describing his senior all-state forward, Holland boys soccer coach Greg Ceithaml says Daniel Arellano is 'electric'.

It took Arellano just over a half to put a charge into his team and lead the Dutch to the school's first MHSAA Finals championship.

Arellano scored on a beautiful goal just more than four minutes into the second half, and later assisted on another in Holland's 3-0 win over East Lansing in the Division 2 Final on Saturday at Comstock Park High School.

"His goal was impressive. I thought his assist was more impressive," Ceithaml said. "The guys have a lot of confidence knowing that when we step on the field with him in front, good things usually happen."

The first good thing happened with 35 minutes, 43 seconds to play in the game when Arellano scored the game's first goal on a hard shot off the right side of the Trojans' goal. It was Arellano's 20th goal of the season.

His assist came later in the half, when he dribbled through the East Lansing defense and made a sharp pass to senior midfielder Sam Accardo, who finished the play with his 16th goal of the season.

In between those two scores, senior forward Jose Penaloza put in his eighth goal of the year at the 32:30 mark of the second half.

"We just needed to get a rhythm going," Arellano said. "We just remained focused, and that was key. While we were in the huddle (at the half), Coach was telling us, ‘You want this more. There is no other team out there that wants this more than we do.’ Now that just proves it, because it is our first ever state championship."

Ceithaml admitted there weren’t many adjustments made after a tough first half that included a steady cold rain. He just tried to will his team to play a little better and pay attention to the little details that got the Dutch to this point.

"I didn't think we possessed the ball very well (in the first half), and I give credit to East Lansing for that," said Ceithaml, whose team finished its historic season with a 19-5-2 record. "And the conditions, I told the team, we need to connect passes batter in the second half, and they did that. They executed."   

On the other side of the field, East Lansing coach Nick Archer said his team was just unable to finish.

"It was a game of two different halves," said Archer, whose team ended its season with a 17-10-1 record. "In the second half, when they broke through, they finished on us. They just got through our defense, and we got caught a little flat footed. We had a couple of opportunities; we just didn't put them in.

“They are very explosive, and the few seconds they were able to explode, they got through,” Archer added.

Now Ceithaml must say goodbye to a superb senior class of 14 players who struggled a bit when they were freshmen, but made history on their way out.

"We took our lumps (early), but we were learning," Ceithaml said. "Then last year Regional Finals, and then this year (the championship). I feel we have grown and evolved together, and I couldn't be happier for them.

“Right now I am speechless, I am just happy for the boys. I am glad they created a memory that I hope they carry with them for the rest of their lives."

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS: (Top) Holland’s players celebrate Saturday by hoisting the program’s first MHSAA championship trophy. (Middle) Daniel Arellano (7) looks for an opening between East Lansing defenders, including Alec Fordell (6).

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 [email protected] 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.)