Preview: Seeking Storybook Endings

November 2, 2017

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

We’ll have a first-time Division 1 champion this fall. It’s guaranteed. We could have first-time winners in Divisions 2 and 4 as well.

And if one of the four past champions playing in Saturday’s MHSAA Boys Soccer Finals wins again, they all have great stories too – be it the contenders looking for first titles since 1995 and 2001, an unranked power that made its way to the final day after a slow start, or the lone returnee from last year’s last day that missed out on another title falling by one goal.

Saturday's Finals kick off at noon and 3 p.m., with Division 1 followed by Division 4 at Rochester Hills Stoney Creek and Division 2 followed by Division 3 at Comstock Park. All 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.

Division 1

 20-2-4, No. 5
Coach: Gene Pulice, sixth season (80-24-19)
League finish: First in Detroit Catholic League Central.
Championship history: Has never played in an MHSAA Final.
Players to watch: Drake Midgley, jr. M (11 goals, 10 assists); Ryan Pierson, sr. F (30 goals, 13 assists); Kevin Blossfield, sr. GK (0.12 goals-against average), Andrew Nicholsen, jr. GK (0.37 goals-against average).
Outlook: Detroit Catholic Central will make its first appearance in an MHSAA championship game in this sport, with Wednesday’s Semifinal the second time it had reached that level of the tournament (and second time in three seasons). This run has included wins over No. 18 Novi in the District Final and No. 12 Plymouth in the Regional championship game before the Shamrocks eliminated No. 4 and reigning champion East Kentwood to earn the Finals berth. Blossfield and Nicholsen have split time in goal and combined for 16 shutouts this fall.

 22-1-2, No. 15
Coach: Joel Sharpe, 21st season (221-170-41)
League finish: First in Lakes Valley Conference.
Championship history: Has never played in an MHSAA Final.
Players to watch: Ray Daniels, sr. F (17 goals, 8 assists); Alex Dalou, sr. M (10 goals, 14 assists); Nik Palafox, sr. M (16 goals, 15 assists), Ellton Pllumbaj, jr. F (14 goals, 10 assists).
Outlook: Walled Lake Central’s first run to a Final also has included its first Regional title in this sport, with a win over No. 10 Rochester in the Regional Semifinal and four shutouts over six total tournament games. In fact, the combination of junior keepers Brian Ostepanko, Jackson Bowers and Zaid Alsorachi has totaled 20 shutouts in 25 games this fall as they’ve saved nearly 93 percent of shots they’ve faced. A streak of 16 straight shutouts through the District Final tied the MHSAA record set in 2008, and the 20 total are tied for fourth most in one season. Dalou earned an all-state honorable mention last season.

Division 2

 17-9-1, unranked
Coach: Nick Archer, 41st season (660-176-75)
League finish: Fourth in Capital Area Activities Conference Blue.
Championship history: Five MHSAA titles (most recent 2014), two runner-up finishes. 
Players to watch: Ansu Lebbie, sr. F (9 goals, 5 assists); Alden Metzmaker, sr. F (12 goals, 3 assists); Almir Celovic, sr. M (3 goals, 5 assists); Petrus Martens, sr. M (8 goals, 3 assists).
Outlook: East Lansing likely is the surprise of the tournament after starting this season 2-4-1. But another championship this weekend would be the program’s third in five years. The Trojans beat No. 14 Haslett and No. 15 Goodrich on the way to this week after avenging near the end of the regular season an early loss to Division 3 No. 7 Williamston. East Lansing has won nine of its last 10 including two games by shootout and a third in overtime.

 18-5-2, No. 8
Coach: Greg Ceithaml, 21st season (270-152-38) 
League finish: Second in Ottawa-Kent Conference Green.
Championship history: Has never played in an MHSAA Final.
Players to watch: Sam Accardo, sr. M; Jose Penaloza, sr. F; Owen Beird, sr. M; Daniel Arellano, sr. F. (Statistics not submitted.)
Outlook: Wednesday’s Semifinal win over No. 7 Coldwater was a first for the Dutch, coming off the second Regional title in program history. Holland heads into this historic final step riding a string of four straight shutouts and with a 26-2 scoring margin over six tournament games. The Dutch also eliminated No. 19 Holland Christian, in the District Final, and No. 4 Grand Rapids Christian in the Regional championship game. Arellano and Penaloza made the all-state first team last season, and Accardo earned honorable mention.

Division 3

 20-2-1, No. 3
Coach: Tony Rowe, sixth season (100-26-11)
League finish: Third in Saginaw Valley League.
Championship history: Two MHSAA titles (most recent 2013), one runner-up finish.
Players to watch: Mason Smith, sr. M (17 goals, 26 assists); Bryan Lendzion, sr. F (26 goals, 12 assists); Brendan Tilden, sr. GK (0.45 goals-against average, 13 shutouts); Kyle Genord, sr. M (3 goals, 16 assists).
Outlook: Last season’s Division 3 runner-up just missed its third championship, falling 1-0 to Grand Rapids Catholic Central in the 2016 Final. A number of last year’s contributors are back for another shot – Smith made the all-state first team last fall, while Tilden made the third team and Lendzion earned an honorable mention. Junior midfielder Blase Haynes also had 14 goals heading into this week, and junior midfielder Garret Delamielleure added seven goals and 12 assists. The Chargers downed No. 5 Detroit Country Day in the Semifinal after beating No. 9 Lansing Catholic in the Regional Final.

 18-4-2, No. 16
Coach: Kris Anderson, seventh season (79-63-8)
League finish: Second in Lakes 8 Conference.
Championship history: Division 3 champion 2001, two runner-up finishes.
Players to watch: Ben Knoer, sr. M (24 goals, 4 assists); Caleb Schoon, sr. F (17 goals, 12 assists); Lucien Chasse, sr. M (9 goals, 9 assists); Kyle Wendt, fr. GK (1.30 goals-against average, 9 shutouts).
Outlook: Ludington shook things up with its Semifinal win over No. 4 Grand Rapids South Christian, which continued the Orioles’ longest run since that championship season of 2001. They have won 12 of their last 13 games, with only a loss to Division 4 No. 3 Muskegon Western Michigan Christian breaking up the streak. Knoer and Schoon have combined to score more than half the team’s goals, but they’ve had plenty of helpers feeding them opportunities; junior midfielder Will Flewelling also had nine assists heading into this week, and senior midfielder Lynn Richard had seven assists and eight goals.

Division 4

 19-6-1, No. 5
Coach: Lucian Popescu, eighth season (139-60-14)
League finish: Third in Detroit Catholic League AA.
Championship history: Three MHSAA runner-up finishes (most recent 2010).
Players to watch: Zachary Zimmerman, jr. M (31 goals, 24 assists); Evan Marx, sr. M (17 goals, 13 assists); Matthew Pumphrey, sr. M (13 goals, 12 assists); Leo Fried, jr. GK (1.18 goals-against average, 13 shutouts).
Outlook: Greenhills also made the Semifinals last season before breaking out this week to reach its first Final since back-to-back runner-up finishes in 2009 and 2010. The Wednesday win over reigning champion and No. 14-ranked Burton Genesee Christian was just the latest of an impressive string that included defeats of No. 6 Hillsdale Academy and No. 13 Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central in the Regional and No. 12 Manchester to open the District. Zimmerman earned all-state honorable mention last season. Junior midfielder Neil Bazaj added 20 assists heading into the week.

 19-1-2, No. 4
Coach: Ian Troutman, third season (record N/A)
League finish: First in Southwestern Athletic Conference.
Championship history: Four MHSAA titles (most recent 1995), one runner-up finish.
Players to watch: Brennan Creek, jr. M (40 goals, 37 assists), Aidan Gillig, jr. M (17 goals, 11 assists); Jacob Wurtz, sr. M (2 goals, 6 assists); Max Keenan, jr. F (41 goals, 14 assists).
Outlook: Hackett is back in the Final for the second time in three seasons; the Irish fell to Genesee Christian in a shootout in the 2015 championship game and then lost in overtime in the Semifinals a year ago. This time, Hackett downed No. 8 Buckley in the Semifinal, No. 11 Hartford in the Regional Final and No. 17 Kalamazoo Christian in the District Final. There’s plenty of firepower – the Irish have outscored six postseason opponents by a combined 34-3 and have 12 games with at least five goals. Creek made the all-state second team last season, while Keenan made the third team and Wurtz earned an honorable mention.

PHOTO: Flint Powers Catholic’s Mason Smith (10) works to elude a pair of Grand Rapids Catholic Central players during last year’s Division 3 championship game.

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.)