By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
Nine Grandville Calvin Christian seniors faced their final high school season this spring, and with it exciting possibilities.
Their team had won four straight league titles and looked good for a fifth. The Squires also had moved into a different MHSAA division, with new playoff opponents and new championship opportunities.
It would've been easy to look far ahead. But those seniors knew better than to look past the first steps that have brought them to the season's final week for the second time in school history.
Calvin Christian knocked out two ranked teams in last week’s Regional – first No. 8 St. Joseph Lake Michigan Catholic 7-0 and then No. 2 Kalamazoo Christian 7-2. At No. 4, the Squires are the highest-ranked team left in Division 4 with only two more wins needed for a first MHSAA championship.
“We’ve known from the beginning that something special could be in order. Not in terms of advancing far in the tournament, but in having a capable team and taking every opportunity to play together,” Calvin Christian coach Tim TerHaar said. “What these seniors have done, they haven’t been consumed with a tournament run all season. They’re focused on going out and enjoying playing with each other.”
The Squires (23-2-1) can earn one more game together by defeating Muskegon Western Michigan Christian in Wednesday’s Semifinal at East Kentwood High School. Calvin Christian has never advanced to an MHSAA Final; this is the second time the Squires have made it this far, matching their Division 4 run in 2000. (Click for all Semifinal pairings.)
Don’t assume this run has been a product of merely moving into Division 4 (the team also played in Division 4 during TerHaar’s first two years, 2001 and 2002). Calvin Christian has won its league in 11 of TerHaar’s 12 seasons – although the Squires then frequently ran into six-time Division 3 champion Hudsonville Unity Christian or Grand Rapids South Christian during the tournament.
But the Division 4 road is tough as well, with obstacles like four-time MHSAA champion Kalamazoo Christian, which Calvin Christian lost to 2-1 after a 6-0 start this spring. The Squires were missing one of their best scorers for that game, but also had trouble capitalizing on offensive opportunities that did present themselves.
“Having played them and lost to them was a huge motivating factor for all of us,” TerHaar said. “In some ways, it could’ve been a blessing.”
Seniors Katie Klunder, Jenny Holsem, Riley Gortsema and Morgan Noordyke have played on the varsity all four seasons and bring a 73-14-5 career record into this week.
Klunder – who has signed with reigning Division II national runner-up Grand Valley State – has scored 51 goals this spring, tied for sixth in the MHSAA record book for one season. Her 75 points is third. The team has outscored its postseason opponents 36-2 and put a ball in net during the first five minutes of all five playoff games.
The team’s defense has been similarly record-setting. Calvin Christian has 21 shutouts – including 20 by senior goalkeeper Lydia VerStrate, with that total tied for third in the MHSAA record book for one season. In front of her are seniors Gortsema and Noordyke and freshman Morgan Buursma, and a strong midfield led in part by Holsem.
The Kalamazoo Christian loss taught them and their teammates a lesson about the importance of mental sharpness. And that was evident in the rematch Thursday, when the Squires immediately brought the attack.
“I think it speaks to the fact that we have nine seniors, and this is their chance – their last chance, really,” TerHaar said. “I’m pleased that haven’t taken anything for granted. They’ve made the most of every opportunity.”
PHOTOS: (Top) Calvin Christian senior Jenny Holsem (6) deflects the ball during Thursday’s Regional Final against Kalamazoo Christian. (Middle) Squires coach Tim TerHaar presents the trophy to his team after the 7-2 win over the Comets. (Photos courtesy of Calvin Christian soccer.)
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 Overtime - Listen
Soccer games in the postseason have one big noticeable difference from the regular season. In the postseason, games cannot end in a tie – so games go to overtime and possibly a shootout.
Here’s how that works:
If the game is tied at the end of regulation, it will go to overtime, which is two 10-minute periods played in its entirety. There is no sudden death or golden goal winner. If there is a winner at the end of the 20 minutes, that team wins and advances to the next round. If there’s still a tie, we move to a shootout.
In the shootout, the teams alternate taking five penalty kicks. If it’s still tied after five kicks, they each kick until the tie is broken.
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