Unity Wins Memorable Battle of D3 Best

November 3, 2018

By Keith Dunlap
Special for Second Half

NOVI – Hudsonville Unity Christian junior Jordan Bruckbauer was likely the only player on his team who remembered his first goal of the 2018 season, which came earlier this fall before the playoffs began.

But it’s a safe bet nobody on his team, or anyone else in the Unity Christian athletic program, will ever forget his second.

With 7:09 remaining in the first half of overtime of the MHSAA Division 3 championship game, Bruckbauer simply saw an opportunity and pounced on it. 

The ball was loose in the box, Bruckbauer won the race to it, and volleyed the ball into the goal to give No. 2 Unity Christian a 2-1 lead over No. 1 Grosse Ile. 

Bruckbauer’s second goal of the year turned out to be the championship-clincher, as 

Unity Christian added an insurance goal during the second half of overtime en route to a 3-1 victory.

It was Unity Christian’s first MHSAA Finals championship since 2014.

“I always kind of picture in my head doing something great,” Bruckbauer said. “But then sometimes it never really happens. Having it happen is a dream come true. It’s indescribable.”

Unity Christian (23-2-1) had to rally against a Grosse Ile team that was hard to score on in 2018. 

Grosse Ile took a 1-0 lead with 3:24 left in the first half on a goal by senior Christian Drzyzga, who fired a shot from roughly 25 yards out that deflected off a defender and into the goal.

At that point, it wasn’t illogical to think that would be the game winner, since Grosse Ile had a run of 21 straight shutouts during the regular season and had given up just one goal during the MHSAA tournament going into the game. 

But Unity Christian answered less than a minute later, as junior Kadin Shaban got fouled while pursuing a loose ball in the box and converted the ensuing penalty kick to tie the game at 1-1 with 2:42 left in the first half. 

The second half didn’t yield many quality scoring chances on net, and the only real close call before Bruckbauer’s goal came early in overtime when Shaban hit the post on a free kick from 30 yards out. 

Then, Bruckbauer jumped on the loose ball and put Unity Christian in control.

“I just saw an opportunity and wanted to capitalize,” Bruckbauer said. “I wasn’t a big goal scorer on the year, but saw a chance and wanted to capitalize.”

Unity Christian put the game away with 7:18 left on a goal by Shaban, who took advantage of a gambling defense that had players up the field by going on a mini breakaway, shielding the lone defender back from the ball and then chipping a shot over the keeper’s head to make it 3-1. 

It was Shaban’s 31st goal of the season. 

“Two evenly matched teams going at it, and both teams defended really well,” Unity Christian head coach Randy Heethuis said. “It was good for us to score right after they scored to tie it up. In the second half, we thought we were really putting some pressure on them at the end of the game. We wanted to start out hard and fast in overtime. Credit to Jordan for getting the biggest goal of his life.”

Grosse Ile finished its season 27-2, with its only other loss coming to Detroit U-D Jesuit. 

“They are very similar to U-D in their size and athleticism,” Grosse Ile head coach Jon Evans said. “We knew it was going to be a battle. They won a lot of 50-50 balls, and a lot of that can change games. They then got on the end of a couple (chances).”

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS: (Top) Unity Christian players climb to the front of the stands to celebrate winning Saturday’s Division 3 Final. (Middle) Grosse Ile’s Jacob Sawicki works to get past Unity Christian's Zach DeVries.

Roy's Homecoming Success Continues for Division 1 Contender Clarkston

By Keith Dunlap
Special for MHSAA.com

September 28, 2023

For Sebi Roy, there’s definitely been no place like home.

Greater DetroitJust as last season started, Roy moved back to his hometown of Clarkston to play high school soccer after spending roughly 1½ years training with Major League Soccer’s Cincinnati FC as part of the MLS Next program. 

Going from training with a professional organization to high school soccer might seem like a major downgrade to the average soccer follower, but it hasn’t been the case at all for Roy.

“It’s great to go from a super high skill ceiling where every touch matters, to something a little bit more free,” he said. “I know a lot more people and it’s a great way to get confidence. I didn’t get a whole lot of training in Cincy, and back here I get so much more individual training in general. Getting the touches and getting development was crucial.”

Ever since Roy came back to Clarkston last year, opponents have certainly wished he stayed in Cincinnati. 

It’s especially been the case this year, as Roy, a center forward, has been just about unstoppable. 

The 6-foot-3 Roy entered Thursday with 15 goals and five assists over 11 games despite being the constant focal point of opposing defenses and playing in arguably the state’s toughest league, the Oakland Activities Association Red.

Against 2022 Division 1 champion Rochester Adams, Roy scored five goals in a 7-3 win. 

Clarkston head coach Ian Jones said he hadn’t even met Roy before last year, then heard rumors from others on that team he was coming back in town.

Still, Roy showed up after tryouts had ended, so Jones had Roy go through a personal two-day tryout. 

It obviously didn’t take long for Jones to realize Roy was too good to not have on the team, and that was reinforced during the first game last year when he scored a goal on his first touch of the game. Roy went on to make the Division 1 all-state first team as Clarkston finished 16-5-2 and reached the Regional Finals.

Jones, who has professional experience playing in England and has coached for more than 20 years in the United States, said Roy definitely has the tools to be a professional player.

Clarkston's Sebi Roy monitors the action against Oxford.“I’ve never seen anything like him,” he said. “He’s got unbelievable touch. He’s left-footed and right-footed. He’s got vision and strength. It’s fun to watch him, forget coaching him. You find yourself watching him in games because he’s so good.”

Roy’s father is Travis Roy, who in 1991 won the state's Mr. Soccer Award playing for Livonia Stevenson before going on to play in college at Wisconsin.

Also on the Clarkston team this year is Roy’s brother, Fagan, who is a freshman. 

Sebi Roy said his dad started him in soccer “as soon as he could walk,” and he has loved it so much that he hasn’t dabbled in any other sport.

Despite already getting a small taste of what professional soccer would be like, Roy said he prefers to play in college and is still in the process of determining the best spot. 

Asked if there’s any top professional player he likes to emulate, the answer was a hard no.

“I want to be my own person,” he said.

Thanks to Roy’s production and a core of other talented players who could be playing at the next level, Clarkston earlier this month achieved a program first – the No. 1 ranking in Division 1. 

Clarkston (9-1-1) is down to No. 4 this week after losing its first game last Thursday, a 2-1 decision at now-No. 2 Oxford.

There could soon be a rematch, as Clarkston and Oxford are in the same District in the upcoming Division 1 tournament. 

If the teams meet again, Oxford will know the main player to stop – and Clarkston will know the main player to ride as it pursues what would be a first state title in boys soccer. (The Wolves were Division 1 runners-up in 2007).

“He’s the most dangerous player we’ve seen by far,” Oxford coach Adam Bican said. “His size, his athleticism, and his IQ is off the chart. He’s so dangerous, and he has one of the better shots I’ve seen. He’s a pure finisher.”

Keith DunlapKeith Dunlap has served in Detroit-area sports media for more than two decades, including as a sportswriter at the Oakland Press from 2001-16 primarily covering high school sports but also college and professional teams. His bylines also have appeared in USA Today, the Washington Post, the Detroit Free Press, the Houston Chronicle and the Boston Globe. He served as the administrator for the Oakland Activities Association’s website from 2017-2020. Contact him at [email protected] with story ideas for Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties

(Photos by Keith Dunlap.)