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.

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.