Second Title Just as Sweet for Sailors

November 3, 2012

By Dean Holzwarth
Special to Second Half

KENTWOOD – Two years ago, Kevin Doornbos was a sophomore when the South Christian boys soccer team won the program's first MHSAA title.

Following Saturday afternoon's Lower Peninsula Division 3 championship game, Doornbos had reason to cherish this one even more.

He booted the lone goal of in a thrilling 1-0 double-overtime win against Williamston at Pat Patterson Athletic Field.

“This is the second time for me, and this one feels even better since I got the game-winning goal,” said Doornbos, whose twin brother, Kyle, also plays on the team.

“I knew we were going to be able to do this because we have a great team. We have such great depth, and I had confidence in my team that we were going to come out with the win.”

Amid a defensive struggle that resulted in a scoreless regulation and first overtime, Doornbos delivered a booming shot from 18 yards out that soared past Hornets' keeper Charlie Coon with less than six minutes remaining in the second overtime.

“I was trying to create space between myself and the defender,” Doornbos said. “I think I took my time a little too much, but I was waiting for the perfect shot, and I'm pretty sure I got the perfect shot there. It is the best thing that has ever happened to me.”

South Christian coach Jason Boersma knew the potency of Doornbos' left foot, and became excited when he lined up for the shot with little pressure surrounding him.

“Kevin has a cannon of a shot, and when I saw them letting him set up to the left, I thought they were playing smart defense, but they don't realize that he is a lefty,” Boersma said. “When the ball hit the back of the net, the emotion was amazing. It was an amazing moment, and I just watched my guys go crazy.”

Boersma said his assistant coach, Ben Cook, predicted that Doornbos would be the hero.

“He actually told him before the second overtime that he thought he was going to get on here,” he said. “He has kind of been like Nostradamus all season, calling out whose going to get that opportunity.”

While South Christian (21-2-3) celebrated its second crown, it ruined the Finals debut of Williamston.

The Hornets (19-7-1) were making their first appearance in a title game after winning the program's first Regional title.

They defeated Elk Rapids 2-1 in a shootout to reach the Finals.

“This team made history,” Williamston coach Brent Sorg said. “Twenty-three years in the program, and this was the first time ever advancing to the state finals. That is something they will remember 10, 15, 20 years down the road.”

The Sailors' defense allowed few scoring chances, and posted their 18th shutout of the season. They blanked their third straight opponent in the tournament after also shutting out Otsego in the Regional Final and Grosse Ile in the Semi.

“Our defense has been hard to score on all season, and most of them are coming back next year,” Boersma said.

Coon, a senior, kept the Hornets in the game with stellar play in goal. He made eight stops, including a diving save in overtime on a shot in front of the net by South Christian's Cody Kok.

“He is an all-state goal keeper, and he had made some tremendous saves for us,” Sorg said. “He kept us in many games all year.”

The Sailors closed the season on an 11-game winning streak.

“What a fun opportunity for these guys,” Boersma said. “They played their hearts out, and Williamston played a fantastic game. I thought they had a few chances, and we had a few chances, and it was just a good battle between two good teams and we're blessed to be on top of this one.”

Click for the box score.

PHOTOS: (Top) Grand Rapids South Christian players hoist their second MHSAA championship trophy won over the last three seasons. (Middle) South Christian's Kevin Doornbos (11) charges ahead as Williamston's Phil Erickson gives chase moments before Doornbos scored the game's only goal.

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 tomspencer@chartermi.net 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.)