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 Offsides or Goal?

By Paige Winne
MHSAA Marketing & Social Media Coordinator

May 23, 2023

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 Offsides or Goal? - Listen

Today we’re on the soccer field for another You Make the Call.

Team A has a throw-in near midfield. Team A’s No. 9 is clearly in an offside position when the throw-in comes directly to her. She collects the ball and kicks it past the keeper and into the goal. What’s the call?

Should the referee:

► Award an indirect free kick to Team B?

► Award a goal kick to Team B?

► Award a re-take of the throw-in to Team A?

► Award a goal to Team A?

If you said, "Award a goal to Team A" … you are correct, despite the goal-scorer being in a clear offsides position.

The soccer rulebook states that a player shall not be penalized for offsides if she receives the ball directly from a goal kick, corner kick or throw-in. It’s a legal play – and counts as a goal.

Previous Editions:

May 16: Track & Field Exchange Zones - Listen
May 9: Girls Lacrosse Self-Start - Listen
May 2: Baseball/Softball Overthrow - Listen
April 25: Fifth-Quarter/Third-Half Rule - Listen
April 18: Soccer Referee in Play? - Listen
April 11: Softball Strikeout - Listen
March 14: Basketball Instant Replay - Listen
March 7: Hockey Overtime - Listen
Feb. 28: Baker Bowling - Listen
Feb. 21: Ski Finish - Listen
Feb. 14: Swimming Touchpads - Listen
Feb. 7: In or Out-of-Bounds in Wrestling - Listen
Jan. 31: Over the Back - Listen
Jan. 24: Competitive Cheer Judges - Listen
Jan. 17: More Lines - Listen
Jan. 10: On the Line - Listen
Jan. 3: Basketball Measurements - Listen
Dec. 13: Pregame Dunks - Listen
Dec. 6: Gymnastics Judges - Listen
Nov. 22: Football Finals Replay - Listen
Nov. 15: Back Row Illegal Blocker - Listen
Nov. 8: Swim Turn Judges - Listen
Nov. 1: Soccer Referee Jersey Colors - Listen
Oct. 25: Cross Country Tie-Breaker - Listen
Oct. 18: Soccer Shootouts - Listen
Oct. 11: Safety in End ZoneListen
Oct. 4: Football Overtime Penalty - Listen
Sept. 27: Kickoff Goal - Listen
Sept. 20: Soccer Timing - Listen
Sept. 13: Volleyball Replays - Listen
Sept. 6: Switching Sides - Listen
Aug. 30: Play Clock - Listen
Aug. 23: Intentional Grounding Change
- Listen

PHOTO: An official raises his flag during this spring's Trenton/Pontiac Notre Dame Prep game. (Photo by Chris Mudd/National Photo Scout.)