East Kentwood Hopes Fast Start Just Beginning of Success This Spring

By Dean Holzwarth
Special for MHSAA.com

April 21, 2023

KENTWOOD – The East Kentwood girls soccer team managed to win only four games a year ago.

West MichiganIn a remarkable turnaround, the Falcons have already surpassed that win total less than a month into this season.

“Going into the season I felt strongly that we had a really good group of girls,” fifth-year East Kentwood coach Mark Bea said. “You never know quite how it is going to come together, but I’m pleased with where we are at.

“We’ve done enough to find ways to win even when we haven't been at our best. A lot of girls have made that happen. We’ve done some good things, but still have a long way to go.”

The Falcons entered the week with a 5-1 record, their best start since 2015. East Kentwood’s only loss had occurred against Division 3 No. 6 Grand Rapids West Catholic, although the Falcons are now 5-3 after defeats over the last three days to Division 1 No. 6 Rockford and Caledonia.

“I’m really proud of all the girls,” Bea said. “They work hard to improve every day, and we’ve played some very good teams that are extremely well coached. This team has been able to prevail in most of them, and it's been really helpful for us to pick up some more nonconference games due to our conference tournament.

“We’ve also had the benefit of just being able to get some momentum by playing teams outside of our conference.”

East Kentwood received a huge confidence boost last week with a 2-1 win over Plainwell, which won 12 games a year ago and has a solid program. The Falcons followed that with victories over the weekend against Grand Ledge and Gaylord.

“We have a really great group of girls who play extremely hard and are learning to play even harder,” East Kentwood senior Rebecca Moore said. “We have a lot of trust in each other and love representing our school through the soccer field.

Sophomore Ella Zoerhoff (8) sends a header against Plainwell. “Our defense has been solid so far, and we look to continue to get better. All of us understand that we win and lose as a team and we use our losses as learning experiences in order to better ourselves and the team as a whole.”

Moore, along with Ana Guillory and McKenna Van Overen, have been senior leaders, while an impressive core of sophomore standouts has been vital to the team’s early success.

The Falcons rostered several freshmen last season, and that year of experience has proved to be beneficial.

The sophomore contingent has been led by another in Ella Zoerhoff, who is playing in high school for the first time after competing at the club level as a freshman.

“I always wanted to play for East Kentwood, but didn’t know which year would be right,” Zoerhoff said. “I thought this year I should try out and obviously I think it’s going pretty well so far. I was really excited to play this year, and I’m excited that we are winning games.

“I feel like it's been a team effort, and everyone has been doing their job correctly.”

Zoerhoff has provided a scoring punch with a team-high eight goals, while Guillory and sophomore Breyona Ikwueme also have been offensive catalysts.

“Ella is a game changer and we have a couple of other forwards, so having three up there makes everyone better,” Bea said. “You can't mark just one of them because the other ones are going to get you, so that’s helpful.”

The Falcons also have been stingy on defense, keyed by Moore and sophomore Sofia Daniel.

Other contributors include sophomores Liliana Bea, Camryn Kolzow and Cassie Block, and junior Emersyn Port.

“Having a team where you have some threats to score is a big piece, but it’s also about having a central defense and they have just done a tremendous job,” Bea said. “We would not be able to do what we’re doing on offense if our central defenders weren’t doing what they've done.”

The Rockford and Caledonia games marked the start of Ottawa-Kent Conference Red play, with Grand Haven and Grandville up next week. May 9 opponent Hudsonville is ranked No. 5 in Division 1 this week.

“Arguably, we have one of the toughest conferences in the state, and the Red is just brutal,” Bea said.

“We are a work in progress and have some huge matches against phenomenal opponents in our conference coming up. Our objective is to take it one game at a time and continue to improve game by game.”

Zoerhoff also is eager to see how this team can compete.

“I'm looking forward to the O-K Red, and I’m looking forward to good competition and to start conference play this week,” she said. “We have some good momentum right now.”

Dean HolzwarthDean Holzwarth has covered primarily high school sports for Grand Rapids-based WOOD-TV for five years after serving at the Grand Rapids Press and MLive for 16 years along with shorter stints at the Ionia Sentinel and WZZM. Contact him at [email protected] with story ideas for Allegan, Kent and Ottawa counties. 

PHOTOS (Top) The East Kentwood girls soccer team celebrates a win this spring. (Middle) Sophomore Ella Zoerhoff (8) sends a header against Plainwell. (Photos courtesy of the East Kentwood girls soccer program.)

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.)