Unity Christian Comes Back to Claim Title-Deciding Matchup of D3 Powerhouses

By Perry A. Farrell
Special for MHSAA.com

November 4, 2023

GRAND LEDGE – Jack Kamminga will never forget Saturday’s Division 3 Boys Soccer Final at Grand Ledge High School.

The sophomore helped rally Hudsonville Unity Christian to its sixth title on a go-ahead goal with nine minutes, 23 seconds left to lift the Cougars to a 3-2 victory over powerhouse Detroit Country Day.

“Logan (Lutke) passed it to me, and I scored,’’ said Kamminga matter-of-factly. “It was the best feeling ever.

“Tied 2-2, we have to come back. We were down one in the second half, and it felt great to get up one on them. We had to high-press them when we were down a goal. We just couldn’t sit back and let them do what they wanted. We started pressing and making them feel uncomfortable. That produced two goals.’’ 

Country Day has a record 15 Finals titles and just one runner-up finish. Coach Steve Bossert figured early this season the championship could come down to his No. 2-ranked Yellowjackets (19-3-2) against the No. 1 Crusaders (21-2-1).

The matchup lived up to the billing.

“They’re a great team as well,’’ said Bossert. “They played wonderfully. It was a really entertaining championship game. You saw a bunch of really great goals. There’s a reason why they have a lot of all-state players.’’

Unity Christian came in with five Finals titles and making its 10th championship game appearance.

The Crusaders struck quickly when Colin Nieuwenhuis’ corner kicked was converted into a header by Isaac Eppinga, for his first goal of the season, at the 33 minute, 20 second mark.

The Crusaders celebrate their sixth championship.Country Day’s offensive pressure was evident, and at the 13:18 mark the Yellowjackets broke through when Alex Eby laced a shot in from 20 yards out to tie the game 1-1.

Fifteen minutes into the second half the Yellowjackets took their first lead when Stephen Brentano scored after Ammar Siddiqui’s corner kick was deflected at the 35:25 mark for a 2-1 lead.

Trailing for the first time, the Crusaders responded with the tying goal from Nieuwenhuis with 19:18 left in the second half.

“It’s an honor to be a captain for this team,’’ said Nieuwenhuis. “When we were down 2-1 and were just saying keep going. Keep pushing; 35 minutes left. That’s a long time. We get one, momentum shifts and that’s what happened. Then we ended up getting another one. Once we got to 2-2, we started playing better. I feel like that’s where it all shifted.

“Jack, he’s just a great kid. He’s a hard worker. He does everything we need him to. He can play up top, he can play the mid. He has had a lot of big goals in a lot of big games.’’

Both sides agreed it was a classic and how a state final should be played.

“(Country Day) has a lot of great players, so kudos to them,’’ said Unity Christian coach Ian Billin. “It was a great season. I’m just so proud of our guys. To go up 1-0 and then get scored on twice and go down 2-1. That changes the momentum. Our guys found a way.’’

Click for the box score.

PHOTOS (Top) Hudsonville Unity Christian’s Jack Kamminga (17) and Country Day’s Antonio Schimizzi battle for possession Saturday. (Middle) The Crusaders celebrate their sixth championship.

Record-Setting Saving, Historic Scoring Send Grosse Ile to 2018 Boys Soccer Finals

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com 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.