Western Michigan Christian Scores Lone Goal Late to Clinch 8th Title

By Perry A. Farrell
Special for MHSAA.com

November 5, 2022

NOVI – It was a life-changing experience for Muskegon Western Michigan Christian junior forward Matthew Bradford-Royle.

With 14 minutes, 50 seconds left in Saturday’s Division 4 championship game, he planted the rebound off a free kick from teammate Ashton Leffring into the Ann Arbor Greenhills net for the game’s lone goal as the Warriors (16-8-2) claimed their eighth MHSAA Finals title with a 1-0 victory at Novi High School.

“It was a great moment for him. It was a great moment for the team,’’ said WMC coach Ben Buursma. “It was just a hustle play. We practice that all the time. Ashton had a great shot. The goalie couldn’t handle it, and Matt was right there.

“I expected we would score a few more goals today, but the wind was a factor to deal with in the first half and they came out strong. They pressured us more offensively than we thought they would.’’

It was the only goal Greenhills (8-7-4) gave up during the playoffs.

“I knew (Leffring) was going bottom right corner,’’ said Bradford-Royle. “We practice it forever. He ripped it as hard as he could. I know we can’t catch it, so I ran and knocked it in. Easy as that.

Warriors keeper Jared Olsen (00) gathers up the ball. “Oh my God, defense was great. Eli Malek, Jake Hwang did some nice work. Jared Olsen was great in goal. Our defense was just fantastic.’’

The Warriors, like Greenhills, entered the postseason unranked, but got hot at the end of the year to reach the Final.

Greenhills entered tournament play 3-6-4 before reeling off five straight victories to reach the championship match.

Western Michigan Christian started the season 2-5 and reached its 15th Final by allowing only four goals over six playoff games.

Bradford-Royle said the team changed its defense during the season and took off from that point.

“We usually try to start with a 3-5-2 formation to get a little more offensive power,’’ said Buursma. “The schedule we play doesn’t always work that way. We went back to a traditional 4-4-2. It worked out for us. We have the athletes we need to hold that line.’’

Buursma said he realized the Warriors could accomplish this goal, he joked, “with nine minutes to play.’’

The defensive first half ended scoreless, and the Gryphons concentrated on defending their goal.

With less than 20 minutes left to play, neither team had mounted a serious scoring chance with Greenhills providing most of the offensive attack.

“If you look at the stats, we put some good shots on goal and a number of corner kicks,’’ said Greenhills coach Lucian Popescu. “We played a strong game. We played our way; a little bit disruptive.

“The difference was a very small margin. They were strong, they defended well in the last minute. The goalkeeper made two or three important saves. We faced a team today that was solid offensively, defensively and in goal.’’

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS (Top) WMC’s Jake Hwang (3) works to keep possession with Greenhills’ Michael Zheng defending. (Middle) Warriors keeper Jared Olsen (00) gathers up the ball. 

Be the Referee: Soccer Offside

By Paige Winne
MHSAA Marketing & Social Media Coordinator

June 4, 2024

Be The Referee is a series of short messages designed to help educate people on the rules of different sports, to help them better understand the art of officiating, and to recruit officials.

Below is this week's segment – Soccer Offside - Listen

We have an offside situation in soccer to talk about today. The offense sends a long pass from their own half of the field to a teammate way down at the defensive team’s 18-yard line … but she’s offside.

The assistant referee raises her flag and the referee blows her whistle for offside, and an indirect free kick is given to the defense. Where do they take the kick from?

  • Is it the spot where the offside player was when the assistant referee raised her flag?
  • The spot where the ball was when play was stopped?
  • The point of the infraction?
  • Or the spot from where the ball was originally passed?

If you said “at the point of the infraction” you are correct. In this case, the defense gets an indirect free kick where the offside occurred.

Previous Editions

May 28: Appeal Play - Listen
May 21: Lacrosse Foul in Critical Scoring Area - Listen
May 14: Avoiding the Tag - Listen
May 7: Baseball Pitch Count - Listen
April 30: Boys Lacrosse Helmets - Listen
April 23: Softball Interference - Listen
April 16: Soccer Red Card - Listen
April 9: Batted Baseball Hits Runner - Listen
March 12: Basketball Replay - Listen
March 5: Hockey Officials - Listen
Feb. 27: Less Than 5 - Listen
Feb. 20: Air Ball - Listen
Feb. 13: Hockey Penalties - Listen
Jan. 30: Wrestling Tiebreakers - Listen
Jan. 23: Wrestling Technology - Listen
Jan. 9: 3 Seconds - Listen
Dec. 19: Unsuspecting Hockey Hits - Listen
Dec. 12: No More One-And-Ones - Listen
Nov. 21: Football Finals Replay - Listen
Nov. 14: Volleyball Unplayable Areas - Listen
Nov. 7: Pass/Kick Off Crossbar - Listen
Oct. 31: Cross Country Interference - Listen
Oct. 24: Soccer Overtime - Listen
Oct. 17: Tennis Spin - Listen
Oct. 10: Blocked Kick - Listen
Oct. 3: Volleyball Double & Lift - Listen
Sept. 26: Registration Process - Listen
Sept. 20: Animal Interference - Listen
Sept. 13: Feet Rule on Soccer Throw-In - Listen
Sept. 6: Volleyball Jewelry - Listen
Aug. 30: Football Rules Similarities - Listen
Aug. 23: Football Rules Differences - Listen

(Photo by Gary Shook.)