Leland Star Reaches Goals, Scores Record

May 12, 2016

By Dennis Chase
Special for Second Half

LELAND – Joe Burda pauses when asked if there’s one moment that sums up his senior standout, Libby Munoz.

“Well,” the Leland soccer coach said after a few seconds, “there’s been 205 moments so far.”

The 205 represents the number of goals Munoz has scored during her four-year varsity career. It’s an MHSAA record – for girls and boys. She passed Fenton’s Jordan Newman (195) and Burt Lake Northern Michigan Christian’s Aaron Chatfield (201) last week.

“It’s a fun benchmark to get to,” the 18-year-old said. “It’s been on the radar since my sophomore year.”

Munoz, who is averaging three goals a game this season, now has her sights set on the state points record. Hudsonville Unity Christian’s Laura Heyboer owns the girls mark (290), Chatfield the boys (296). Munoz needs just over 20 points to catch Heyboer.

“That (points total) means a lot because it shows that not only can I score, but that I can set people up,” Munoz said. “It proves I have more dimensions (to my game).”

Leland still has seven dates on the schedule, including one invitational, before the start of the MHSAA Tournament.

Munoz is also on target to challenge her 64-goal season in 2014. The state record is 66, held by Kristi Vandeberghe of Mount Clemens. Munoz currently has 41.

“She has that part (of the game) you can’t teach,” her father, Jim, said. “She has that ability to find the back of the net.”

Munoz, who is often marked by opposing teams, makes it look easy at times with her quick decision-making, skill at possessing the ball and uncanny shot placement.

“She has some natural ability,” her mother, Megan, said, “but that’s (success) a result of all the time she’s put into it.

“I think that’s what she’s most proud of. She’s put in the work. I think that’s what she wants her legacy to be. If you work hard at something you can do anything.”

For the 5-foot-2 Munoz, who also scored 1,738 points in her four-year varsity basketball career, soccer is a year-round sport. She plays club soccer in the fall and often trains with members of the Leland boys team in the winter and summer. Her summers also are packed with camps.

Then there’s weight and fitness training.

“I don’t think she’s any taller than she was as a freshman. I don’t think she’s any faster,” Burda said. “But what she’s really worked on is her strength – to hold on to the ball and not get knocked off, and then to beat the keeper with a strong, fast shot.”

Training with the boys – Leland has one of the top Division 4 programs in the state – has aided her development, too.

“Where it’s helped the most is with my quickness on the ball,” she said. “I have to know before it’s even coming to me where I’m going to go or otherwise they’re right there. They’re so much faster and stronger that I’ve really had to learn to be quick. That’s a piece of advice Kalamazoo College soccer coach Bryan Goyings gave me a couple years ago – get together with some guys and play some short-sided games because it’s really going to improve your quickness and ball control. It’s helped a ton.”

Munoz will be playing for Goyings in the fall. She’ll play college basketball, too. She reached that conclusion halfway through this past season.

“I realized I didn’t want to be done with it,” Munoz said. “I sent film to the basketball coach (Katie Miller) and she came up and watched.”

Just like that, she was a two-sport athlete again.

For all the impressive numbers Munoz has posted in soccer and basketball, the one that resonates most with her father is the 4.0 grade-point average she’s achieved in the classroom. She scored a 31 on her ACT. She also was one of 32 recipients statewide this winter of the MHSAA/Farm Bureau Scholar-Athlete Award.

“I think that shows the kind of person she is,” Jim Munoz said. “Sports are great, but it’s not like you’re going to make a living playing sports, at least 99 percent aren’t.”

Munoz will be a pre-med major at Kalamazoo.

“I’ve wanted to be a doctor since I was 4,” she said. “I’m really interested in the sciences. They’ve always been my favorite classes to take.”

If there’s one thing people should know about Libby Munoz, it’s that when she sets a goal she usually accomplishes it.

A 4.0? Check

A state scoring record? Check.

Team success? Check.

The Comets are 70-16-2 in Munoz’s four years. Leland, which started offering girls soccer five years ago, reached the Regional Finals a year ago before losing to powerhouse Grandville Calvin Christian, which has won four MHSAA titles in a row.

Leland graduated 10 seniors off that team, plus lost underclassman Delaney Drake, who transferred out of the district. The daughter of former Detroit Red Wings forward Dallas Drake and Leland basketball star Amy (Boynton) Drake, Delaney has committed to play hockey at the University of Wisconsin.

Still, Leland is currently 10-3, and that’s with six freshmen in the playing group, including Munoz’s cousin Allie Martin, a starter on the Comets’ Class D championship volleyball team. Leland’s girls soccer team is steadily improving. The Comets handed Glen Lake its first loss last week, 4-3. That avenged a 4-1 setback earlier in the season.

Burda said Munoz has taken the underclassmen “under her wing.” And it’s a role the senior embraces.

“I love it,” she said. “They’re all so interested to learn. It’s fun to be their leader and help them out. I was there once, too. My freshman year I had a senior cousin on the team, Maggie Osorio, and she was my best friend. She set an example for me. I want to be to my teammates what she was to me. I love them a lot.”

Watching those leadership traits develop has been one of the highlights of the season for her mother.   

“I’m proud of her setting the record, but what I’m really proud of is that she has stepped up and led a young group of people,” Megan Munoz said. “That’s going to take her farther in her life than anything.”

Libby Munoz leads by example. The state record did not come by accident.

“For (my teammates) to see that and see what you can accomplish with hard work is really big,” she said.

That dedication to learn and achieve is what drives Munoz.

“If I’m in something, I’m all in,” she said. “It doesn’t matter what it is. If I make a commitment, set a goal, I’m 100 percent in.

“My parents worked it into me that I should be the hardest worker, and I think that’s something I live by.”

She applies it in athletics and the classroom.

“That’s something that’s in me,” she said. “I’m interested in learning and I really like to know as much as I can about things. It doesn’t matter what it is. I like to know the why and the how. I’m always asking questions of whoever is around me so that I can learn more and be the best I possibly can be.”

In soccer, she has come up through the ranks as a defender, center-midfielder and forward. She understands the positions and that benefits how she plays.

“I feel like I’m very aware of what’s happening – just from the amount of time I’ve spent on the field,” she said. “I know where the defenders are going to be and where they want to be and I also know where my teammates should be. I can help and guide them to where the shape is going to be the best.

“And even though I’m on the top line I can help out our defense because I can see where the opposing team is going to attack. That comes from experience. I pay close attention. I’m always breaking things down.”

She tried not to pay too close of attention, though, as she approached the state scoring record, although she admits it was hard when people were frequently asking her about it.

Her parents never brought it up.

“That’s not something we talked about because there was no reason to put that added pressure on her,” Jim Munoz said.

Megan Munoz said they didn’t talk about hitting 1,000 career points in basketball either.

“She had no idea (until it happened),” Megan said.

Ironically, Jim and Megan were also 1,000-point scorers at Leland. Jim scored 1,414 points, Megan (Grosvenor) 1,194. Megan coached Libby for two seasons on varsity.

Libby’s soccer exploits, particularly in the last few week, have been well documented in the local media. Burda called it a “special situation” because Munoz’s younger teammates have been part of the experience, too.

“It’s been quite a ride for them,” he said.

And that’s important, Jim Munoz added, because Libby’s teammates, past and present, are a part of the record.

“Soccer’s not golf,” he said. “She didn’t do this by herself. They’ve had some fantastic teams and she’s had a lot of support along the way. Just because you’re the one putting it into the net doesn’t mean that it’s all you.”

Since setting the record, Megan said Libby seems to be playing more freely.

“She’s just enjoying it,” she said. “Everybody tells you not to think about it. But you still have this monkey on your back.”

And with her younger teammates improving, Munoz is excited about what’s ahead in the coming weeks.

“The win over Glen Lake last week was huge,” she said. “I think it makes them realize how far we can go with hard work and dedication.”

And beyond that, a new chapter in her life will begin at Kalamazoo College, although Megan is quick to tell Libby to enjoy the here and now.

“Everything’s bittersweet right now,” Megan said. “The nice thing is (Kalamazoo) is three and half hours away. We’ll still be able to catch some games.”

For now, the next important game is Friday when Leland, after a week off, travels to Charlevoix.

Dennis Chase worked 32 years as a sportswriter at the Traverse City Record-Eagle, including as sports editor from 2000-14. He can be reached at [email protected] 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) Leland's Libby Munoz (14) splits a pair of Kingsley defenders and punches in the record-setting 196th goal of her career May 2. (Middle) Munoz celebrates with a teammate. (Photos by Jason Bushen/Leelanau Enterprise.)

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.)