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.)

McBain Northern Michigan Christian's VanNoord Building on Career Excellence

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor

May 13, 2024

Jada VanNoord entered her senior season this spring on the MHSAA girls soccer career goal list with 108 over her first three seasons at McBain Northern Michigan Christian, and after scoring 40 with 63 total points in 2023.

She also was just shy of making the career points list after making the single-season list as a sophomore with 52 in 2022.

VanNoord has signed to continue her career at Cornerstone University.

See below for more recent additions to the girls soccer record book, and click the heading to see the record book in full.  

Girls Soccer

Sophomore Macy Freeman became the first from Otisville LakeVille Memorial to be listed in the girls soccer record book when she scored all eight goals in her team’s win over Flint Carman-Ainsworth on April 29, 2022, and she was added for the second-highest scoring game in history with 10 goals last May 12 against Marlette. Freeman also was added for 43 goals total as a sophomore and 39 as a junior, and she entered this season on the career goals list as well with 81.

Brighton Charyl Stockwell’s Cassie Hall earned a pair of record book entries for her offensive performance as a junior in 2022. She made the single-season goals list with 55 and single-season points list with 60.

Although her 224 saves as a senior in 2022 fell just shy of making the single-season list, Parchment goalkeeper Gabrielle Novak finished her career with 713 over three seasons and 51 games – with 2020 canceled because of COVID-19. She was joined that spring by senior Kasey Leckie, who made the single-season goals list with 32.

Grace Hewitt became the first West Michigan Aviation Academy player to be listed for career goals, as she tallied 75 from 2019-22 (with 2020 canceled). She also was added for 32 as a senior.

Remus Chippewa Hills’ Karley Densmore made 36 saves against Big Rapids on April 25, 2022, tied for fifth-most in one match, and her 292 over 17 games for the season rank third. Additionally, teammate Hayley Gomber was added for five assists in a game against Mason County Central on April 7, 2022. Both were juniors.

Kelila Rustin made the single-season saves list in 2022 with 251 over 17 games. She was a sophomore at Ionia.

Allison Johnson earned Howard City Tri County’s first girls soccer record book entry in 2021, scoring 30 goals over 19 games. She graduated in 2023.

Schoolcraft’s Hannah Thompson totaled 18 record book entries over three varsity seasons, despite missing her sophomore year which was canceled due to COVID-19. The 2022 graduate five times had a single-game high of eight goals, and as a senior she bested her state record for points with 99 – despite falling just a few goals short of her state record in that category, with a second-place 83. She finished with 130 goals, second all-time, over a combined 54 games, and a fifth-highest 240 points. She’s playing at Eastern Michigan.

Sterling Heights 2023 graduate Mikalah Lewis earned a pair of record book entries over her final two seasons. The first was for 34 goals as a junior in 2022, and she tied for third-most assists in a game on April 10 of last season with six against Center Line.

Lily Usher capped her three-year varsity career at Owosso last spring with 60 more saves than anyone over a career in MHSAA history. She tops that list with 773 over 49 games, with her 268 as a junior in 2022 added as well – and that season she also tied her single-game high with 35.

Layne Palmer had one of the busiest goalkeeping nights in MHSAA history April 21, 2023, when she saved 43 shots from Utica Ford during a 6-0 loss. The Port Huron senior’s saves remain tied for third-most for one game.

Grace Graham capped her Laingsburg career in 2021 by leading the Wolfpack to its first Regional Final appearance – and made the record book for 39 goals and also 51 total points.

Cheboygan’s Kenzie Burt is playing college basketball at Aquinas College, but she left her mark on her high school soccer program as a senior in 2023. Burt made the record book with 33 goals and 53 points total.

Jessica Peters earned Dryden’s first girls soccer entry since 2012 with 48 goals as a senior in 2023, over 19 games. She’s continuing at St. Clair County Community College.

Lydia Kruis and Litzy Ramirez capped their three-season Comstock varsity careers last year with performances among the best all-time in the sport. Among 10 record book entries, Kruis was added for 74 goals (third all-time) and 83 points (sixth) as a senior and 158 goals for her career (ninth). Her eight goals last May 17 against Buchanan tied for fourth-most in one game. Ramirez graduated with seven record book listings, with her six assists against Buchanan that game tied for third-most with her 47 for the season setting the MHSAA record. Her 86 career assists tied for ninth.

Jaidyn Veldhouse led Grandville Calvin Christian to another successful run last spring. A senior now, she made record lists with 37 goals and 52 points as the Squires finished 17-1-3. She will continue at Saginaw Valley State.

Isabella Pool’s junior season last spring included a highlight against Marshall. Although her Coldwater team took a 5-0 loss, Pool saved 39 shots – fifth-most for one match in MHSAA history.

Lutheran Westland added its second athlete to this record book, and first since 2005, as Madilyn Webb finished her three-season varsity career with 48 goals and 53 points last spring and 105 goals over her three seasons. She also scored 33 goals as a junior and seven in one game against Brighton Charyl Stockwell Academy. She’s continuing at Concordia-Ann Arbor.

PHOTO McBain Northern Michigan Christian's Jada VanNoord (20) steps into a kick during a May 1 game against Clare. (Photo courtesy of the Cadillac News.)