WMC Locks Up D4 with Shootout Shutdown

November 2, 2019

By Perry A. Farrell
Special for Second Half

NOVI – Zero was the hero.

Muskegon Western Michigan Christian goalkeeper Jameson Goorman, who wears No. 0, was the star of the Warriors’ shootout victory Saturday in the MHSAA Division 4 Final against Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett at Novi High School.

Goorman was spectacular when the scoreless game went to penalty kicks.

After allowing a goal to Matthew Summers, he stoned Stewart Smith, Sheikh Manneh, Will Nicholson and Nolan Ondersma to set off a wild celebration by the Warriors.

“I kind of just read them,’’ said Goorman. “If they’re straight on, they’re going to push the ball to the right. I just do my best. I’m just overwhelmed with excitement. I just try to save every single one. That’s my mindset. I was trying to give my team the best shot to win.’’

The winning goal was scored by Isaac VanHoeven, who broke the 1-1 shootout tie after teammates Brevin Byrne and Charlie Alfree were stopped trying to follow up on Brandon Fles’ goal on the team’s first attempt.

“This is unreal,’’ said VanHoeven. “I’m not going to lie; I put it to God. I have no clue where the ball was going. I thought right, I looked left. I thought I was going to go right. I ended up going a bit more central than I expected. We take those.

“Jameson is an unbelievable player. When you talk about top goal keepers, his name has to be up there. He’s just unreal.’’

Goorman also came up big last week under similar circumstances, in a Regional Final shootout win over top-ranked Grandville Calvin Christian. 

“Was Jamo big or what? He is amazing,’’ said Warriors coach David Hulings. “I’ll tell you a story. People wanted me to talk to him about being intimidating in the box, and I said: ‘You know what? You don’t talk to Jamo. He just knows what he’s doing.’

“He just has a sense about him. We’re not here without those kinds of saves. Brandon (Fles) shut those forwards down and Jake Betten in the middle, but he (Goorman) made great saves at the end of the second half. That’s not me; that’s his DNA and his parents.’’

Long before these student-athletes were born, University Liggett and Western Michigan Christian were battling for state soccer supremacy in Division 4 and formerly Class D.

The two schools renewed the rivalry Saturday afternoon at Novi.

The Warriors (19-2-3) were seeking their seventh Finals title and first since 2010. Liggett owns four Finals titles and was seeking its first since 1996.

The two schools last played each other in a Final in 1999, with the Knights prevailing 4-2. In 1982, the Knights beat the Warriors 2-1 for their first soccer championship.

The Warriors had allowed just one goal in tournament play while scoring 27. Liggett scored 19 goals in tournament play, while allowing three.

Speedy forwards Sheikh Manneh and Stewart Smith made an immediate impact against the Warriors’ defense, racing past defenders to put pressure on. Manneh was hurt during the second half of overtime and had to leave the game.

Western Michigan had a golden opportunity to score early, but Michael Masumpa’s shot hit the post and bounded away with just under 13 minutes left in the first half.

Action started picking up during the last eight minutes of regulation as both sides upped the energy offensively. Late in the second half, Masumpa made a dash to the net, but was blocked by a Liggett defender, potentially saving the game.

Doug Wood also had a shot on goal that would’ve been a game-winner had it not hit the post. Masumpa had a chance to win the game late in overtime, but got his feet tangled and missed the shot.

Liggett junior keeper Sam Sword, like Goorman for WMC, had nine saves not counting his stops during the shootout.

“They get to lift the trophy, but I couldn’t be more proud of how we represented ourselves,’’ said Liggett coach David Dwaihy. “It’s a really good thing to feel and deal with and move on from.''

Click for the full scoring summary.

PHOTOS: (Top) Western Michigan Christian hoists it first Finals championship trophy Saturday since 2010. (Middle) Liggett’s Nolan Ondersma (8) works to out-maneuver WMC’s Brevin Byrne.

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.)