GRAND LEDGE – Muskegon Western Michigan Christian was seeking its ninth MHSAA Finals boys soccer title Saturday at Grand Ledge High School.
The scoring floodgates opened in the second half, and the Warriors prevailed 3-0 over Madison Heights Bishop Foley to earn a second-straight Division 4 championship and finish this fall 21-2-3.
After a scoreless first half, senior Charlie Buursma took a pass from Cole DeJonge and trickled it into the net at the 35 minute, 43 second mark of the second half for the game’s first score. It was DeJonge’s 23rd assist of the season and the biggest.
Tekalegn Vlasma tacked on his 25th goal of the season to make it 2-0 at the 27:03 mark with an assist from Buursma. Three minutes later, Vlasma scored his second of the championship with an assist from Buursma to make it 3-0.
“We were really prepared; Coach had us ready,’’ Vlasma said. “They came out and dominated. Second half coach got us mentally prepared. Nothing really changed like we did against Leland in the last game. (On the first goal) the keeper was out and I put it in. After Charlie scored, we knew they couldn’t get one. They hadn’t had a chance all half. We knew if we got one that was it. The second one we got the ball out wide and tapped it in. It was really simple.
“The one goal we gave up in the tournament was a scrappy goal. I just shows how dominant we were in the tournament.’’
The Warriors came into the championship with an impressive resume. They had won Division 4 titles in 2022, 2019, 2010, 2007, 2004 and 2003, tied Detroit Country Day in Class C-D in 1998 and claimed the Class D championship in 1995. They also had finished runners-up six times.
Only Detroit Country Day with 15 titles has more than the Warriors.
Bishop Foley (18-4-1) won a Finals title in 1988 and was a runner-up in 1985.
Each had great scoring chances late in the first half but Bishop Foley goalkeeper Greg Altman and Warriors goalie Daniel Minasian were up to the challenge as the first half ended scoreless.
“I just started taking it down the line in the second half,’’ said Buursma. “The first half I was going up the middle and cutting in trying to find my teammates. Taking it down the line seemed to be the right thing to do. The first goal T (Vlasma) scored it; (he) cut in the middle on his second goal. The first goal I was just running across. He had two goals in the state finals. Incredible.
“This feels great. Everything I’ve been working for in four years as a varsity player. I just loved knowing when my last game was going to be. There would be no loss in the Districts or Regional.’’
When Ben Buursma took over, the program was in transition. Four years later there are two more Division 4 titles.
“We were in a rebuild,’’ said the coach. “We were intentional about changing the culture and made sure we had high-quality guys, high-character guys that were there to play the game. It took three years to get into it, and now we’re enjoying the fruits of that.’’
PHOTOS (Top) Muskegon Western Michigan Christian’s Tekalegn Vlasma (15) celebrates one of his two goals during Saturday’s Division 4 Final at Grand Ledge. (Middle) WMC’s Caleb McKay (14) works to gain possession.
Join Robby Elliott as State Champs! takes a look at all of the action from the 2023 Boys Soccer Finals.