Preview: 1st-Time Finalists, D3 Rematch Among Saturday Storylines

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

November 5, 2021

Three teams will make their first MHSAA Boys Soccer Finals appearances Saturday, and we’re guaranteed a first-time champion in Division 4. Three more finalists are seeking to win their first Finals title in a decade or longer.

And then there’s the Division 3 Final, where the two contenders couldn’t be more familiar with each other. Grosse Ile has won two straight championships, both times defeating Grand Rapids South Christian, and they’ll meet for a third-straight title-deciding match Saturday at Comstock Park.

Here’s a look at Saturday’s full schedule:

Division 1: New Baltimore Anchor Bay (22-1-1) vs Okemos (19-0-4), noon
Division 4: Clarkston Everest Collegiate (18-2-4) vs Wyoming Potter's House (23-3-1), 3 p.m.

Division 2: Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice (10-6-4) vs Grand Rapids Christian (15-7-2), noon
Division 3: Grosse Ile (21-1-1) vs Grand Rapids South Christian (21-0-3), 3 p.m.

All of Saturday’s Finals will be broadcast live and viewable with subscription on, with audio available on See below for glances at all eight finalists, and come back to Second Half later Saturday for coverage of all four championship games. (The Michigan Power Rating noted below is derived from a team's success and strength of schedule and was used to seed Districts at the start of the postseason. The MPRs listed were where teams ranked at the start of District play. Rankings were by the Michigan High School Soccer Coaches Association in its final weekly poll.)


Record/rank: 22-1-1, No. 3
Michigan Power Rating: No. 9
Coach: Nate Williams, 10th season (108-63-19)
League finish: First in Macomb Area Conference Red
Championship history: Has never played in an MHSAA Final.
Players to watch: Evan Linsley, sr. GK (0.97 goals-against average, 6 shutouts); Jake Ursitti, sr. F (21 goals, 8 assists); Carson Hodgson, sr. M (13 goals, 29 assists); Tanner Hodgson, sr. M (21 goals, 17 assists).
Outlook: Bringing Anchor Bay to its first MHSAA Final in this sport is a crowning achievement for a group of 16 seniors, including nine who start. But they have a chance to accomplish an even greater feat. The Tars earned it in part by handing top-ranked Troy its only loss in last week’s Regional Final, and Anchor Bay’s only defeat this fall came against No. 15 Macomb Dakota – a loss then avenged in the District Final. Tanner Hodgson made the all-state first team and Carson Hodgson and Linsley made the second team in 2020 when the team reached the Regional Finals and lost in a shootout.

 19-0-4, No. 4
Michigan Power Rating: No. 4
Coach: Brian Guggemos, 20th season (290-83-43)
League finish: First in Capital Area Activities Conference Blue
Championship history: Division 1 champion 2004, Class B-C champion 1984.
Players to watch: Sawyer Van Antwerp, jr. GK (0.46 goals-against average, 10.5 shutouts); Ben Hussey, sr. M (4 goals, 5 assists); Jack Guggemos, sr. F (45 goals, 14 assists); Owen Brewer, sr. F (19 goals, 19 assists).
Outlook: Okemos won its first Regional title since 2004 after claiming a third-straight District trophy and a league championship ahead of No. 11 East Lansing and Division 2 No. 12 DeWitt. Okemos defeated the Trojans, No. 8 East Kentwood and No. 5 Northville on the way to the championship match. The ties came early against East Lansing and Rochester Hills Stoney Creek and then at the end of September against Division 2 finalist Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice and Troy. Eight seniors start. Jack Guggemos set the school record for goals this fall after making the all-state first team last season, and Hussey earned an all-state honorable mention a year ago.


 10-6-4, unranked 
Michigan Power Rating: No. 32 
Coach: Danny Price, third season (19-27-5)
League finish: Fourth in Detroit Catholic League Central
Championship history: Two MHSAA titles (most recent 2009), three runner-up finishes.
Players to watch: Giuliano Denipoti, sr. F (12 goals), Enzo Bordogna, jr. D (3 goals, 15 assists), Josh Copeland, jr. M (4 goals, 5 assists), Henry Allen, jr. GK (1.55 goals-against average).
Outlook: Brother Rice has found its stride under Price this season, and especially over the last three weeks after coming into the playoffs on an 0-3-1 trip – although that draw was against Division 1 finalist Okemos. The Warriors also had shown their potential with regular-season wins over Detroit Catholic Central and Detroit Country Day, and a 3-1 District Final victory over No. 5 Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood made a big wave in the bracket. Rice defeated No. 12 DeWitt in a shootout Wednesday to advance to this weekend. The future should be bright as well with only two seniors among 11 players who have scored for the team this fall.

16-7-2, No. 13
Michigan Power Rating: No. 20
Coach: Aric Dershem, second season (28-10-2)
League finish: Second in Ottawa-Kent Conference White
Championship history: Division 2 champion 1998 and 2001.
Players to watch: Nicholas Cassiday, sr. M (36 goals, 10 assists); Benjamin Kuiper, sr. F (16 goals, 5 assists); Hans Pruis, sr. F (10 goals, 9 assists); Xander Scofield, jr. GK (1.94 goals-against average, 6 shutouts).
Outlook: Grand Rapids Christian won its first Regional title since that last Division 2 championship run, despite entering the postseason off a 1-4-1 two-week span. The Eagles have outscored their six tournament opponents by a combined 27-4, upsetting top-ranked and reigning champion Richland Gull Lake 2-1 in the Semifinal and also defeating No. 8 Petoskey, No. 9 Spring Lake and No. 14 East Grand Rapids along the way. Cassiday made the all-state Dream Team last season, while senior defender Eli Leegwater and junior midfielder Jonathan Clarkin also are back in the lineup after earning all-state honorable mentions in 2020.


21-0-3, No. 5  
Michigan Power Rating: No. 2
Coach: Joel Vande Kopple, first season (21-0-3)
League finish: First in O-K Gold
Championship history: Three MHSAA titles (most recent 2015), four runner-up finishes.
Players to watch: Levi DeRuiter, sr. M (7 goals, 18 assists); Diego Tiscareno, sr. M (13 goals, 3 assists); Sam Medendorp, jr. F (12 goals, 6 assists); Jordan Gabrielse, sr. F (12 goals, 5 assists).
Outlook: South Christian returns for its third-straight try for the Division 3 title after graduating five players who earned all-state recognition in 2020. The Sailors did return DeRuiter, who earned an honorable mention a year ago, and Vande Kopple took over the program with more than 200 career wins and having led Lansing Christian to the 2013 Division 4 championship. The Sailors have defeated No. 1 Holland Christian, No. 4 Elk Rapids and No. 12 Grand Rapids Catholic Central during their tournament run and total have won 16 straight matches.

21-1-1, No. 2 
Michigan Power Rating: No. 5
Coach: Jon Evans, sixth season (136-7-10)
League finish: First in Huron League
Championship history: Division 3 champions 2002, 2019 and 2020; runner-up 2018.
Players to watch: Hayden Watson, jr. GK (13 shutouts), Joe Molnar, jr. M (24 goals, 8 assists), Anthony Shaheen, sr. F (21 goals, 6 assists), Jon Duke, sr. M (16 goals, 9 assists); Cannon Kawadri, jr. M (12 goals, 6 assists).
Outlook: Grosse Ile is making its fourth-straight trip to the championship match with a lot of important players from last season’s run again leading the way. Duke, Kawadri and Watson all made the all-state first team in 2020, while sophomore defender Ali Khaled (2 goals/19 assists) and senior defender Clayton Lafayette (4 goals/14 assists) made the third team and senior defender Ty Garza (8 goals/8 assists) earned an honorable mention. The only loss this fall came in the regular-season finale to Division 1 Brownstown Woodhaven, and the Red Devils rebounded to outscore their five playoff opponents by a combined 23-5.


17-2-4, No. 5 
Michigan Power Rating: No. 11
Coach: John Haezebrouck, 11th season (94-86-21)
League finish: First in Detroit Catholic League Intersectional #2
Championship history: Has never played in an MHSAA Final.
Players to watch: Lucas Cross, sr. F/M (29 goals, 29 assists); Mark Cross, fr. F (24 goals, 7 assists); Luke Walker jr. M/D (6 goals, 17 assists); Tom Williams, jr. GK (1.03 goals-against average, 7 shutouts).
Outlook: Haezebrouck has built Everest from a program finishing under .500 five of his first six seasons to one that is coming off its third-straight Regional title. The Mountaineers got past league rival and No. 4-ranked Royal Oak Shrine Catholic in the District Final before winning Regional matches against No. 11 Lansing Christian and No. 10 Bad Axe. The only losses came to Shrine in their first of three meetings Sept. 2 and 1-0 to Division 3 No. 10 Pontiac Notre Dame Prep. Lucas Cross made the all-state first team in 2020 and Walker made the second. Sophomore forward Tito Fortuny had added nine more goals heading into this week.

23-3-1, No. 6
Michigan Power Rating: No. 8
Coach: Mike Colago, third season (46-12-3)
League finish: First in Alliance League
Championship history: Has never played in an MHSAA Final.
Players to watch: Jonathan Stout, sr. F (26 goals, 9 assists); Seth Hoeksema, sr. GK (0.76 goals-against average, 11 shutouts); Jok Nhial, sr. F (9 goals, 6 assists); Yosia Mukanda, sr. M (24 goals, 5 assists).
Outlook: Potter’s House has reached the season’s final week for the first time after navigating a tournament path that included No. 2 Grandville Calvin Christian and saw the Pumas win three one-goal games and their District opener in a shootout. Stout made the all-state first team last season and Hoeksema and Nhial earned honorable mentions, and they lead a starting lineup featuring six seniors total. Junior midfielder Jacob Caballero (3 goals/8 assists) also had reached double-digit points entering the week, and senior forward Daniel Fesahaye (5 goals/4 assists) and junior midfielder Rukundo Masengesho (3 goals/5 assists) were closing in.

PHOTO Grosse Ile's Jon Duke (4), here controlling possession during last season's Division 3 Final, returns Saturday hoping to help his team to a three-peat. 

Storch Returns to Retirement After Elevating Alpena Teams From Cellar to Contenders

By Tom Spencer
Special for

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.)