New Novi Champion Goes Even Bigger

June 15, 2019

By Jason Schmitt
Special for Second Half

EAST LANSING – Scoring goals in a championship game is never easy.

But Novi sure made it look that way in Saturday’s Division 1 title game at DeMartin Stadium. The Wildcats had four players score at least once – including senior Jessie Bandyk, who netted two – and cruised past Plymouth, 5-0, to take home their second straight Finals championship.

The five goals were the most that have been scored in a Division 1 championship game.

“These seniors, knowing that this was their last game, they were given a gift,” Novi head coach Todd Pheiffer said. “When you start the state tournament, you never know when your last practice is going to be. You show up for the game the next day, you hope you win and get to practice the next day. When you get to the state championship game, you know when it’s your last practice.”

There will be no more practices this season for the Wildcats – nor games. There’s nothing left to prove. Novi wrapped up an unbeaten season, finishing 28-0-1, becoming just the second team in state history – along with Hudsonville Unity Christian in 2006 – to win 28 games and finish unbeaten.

Despite Saturday’s dominating offensive showing, Pheiffer spent a lot of time after the game praising his defense.

“I cannot tell you how proud I am of my back four,” said the coach, speaking about senior Lauren Calhoun, juniors Nevada Larson and Sarah Katinas and sophomore Eva Burns. “My back four defenders, my goalkeepers, they just pride themselves every single game about limiting the other team’s shots and giving up no goals.”

The Wildcats allowed just eight goals this season and picked up 23 shutouts – the second most in state history. On Saturday, they allowed just five shots, two on goal. They outshot Plymouth 25-5.

Junior Avery Fenchel scored the first goal of the game for Novi, off a pass from Katinas, just before the midway point in the first half. Katinas slid a pass through a pair of Plymouth defenders, finding Fenchel, who made a stop-move to her right before shooting back left near post to beat the goalkeeper for a 1-0 lead.

The game stayed that way until the final three minutes of the half. That’s when Novi senior Lexi Whalen took a long pass from Fenchel and dribbled to her left to set up a 20-yard strike to make it 2-0.

The Wildcats would add three more goals in the second half to pull away for the win – their third over Plymouth this season. Senior Julia Stadtherr poked in a pass from junior Michelle Jecmen to make it 3-0 with just under 28 minutes left in the game. Bandyk then did her magic over the game’s final 26 minutes.

“We came into this game like it was the first time we had played (Plymouth), and we gave it everything we had,” said Bandyk, who scored both of her goals off passes from Stadtherr. “Speaking as a senior, this was our last 80 minutes playing high school soccer. We all gave it our all, and we just connected and put the ball in the back of the net.”

Freshman Sammy Maday made two saves in goal for Novi. Sophomore Abbey Pheiffer, the team’s regular starter who was injured prior to the start of the tournament, finished up the game in goal to share in the shutout.

Plymouth’s struggles started early, as during the first half it was outshot 15-1 and did not put a shot on goal.

“We played them a lot tougher the last two times. But they’re a strong team,” Plymouth head coach Jeff Neschich said. “When we got down, we kind of lost our composure.”

Plymouth had just two shots on goal, those coming off the feet of senior Kennedy White and junior Lily Tiplady during the second half. The Wildcats finished the season 19-5-1. They had a wild postseason run which included a pair of comeback victories.

“We had two playoff games where we came from two goals down to tie them up and eventually win them (Canton and Troy),” Neschich said. “We couldn’t keep pulling the rabbit out of the hat. But the accomplishments they had were incredible. There’s nothing to be ashamed of.”

Novi has now won seven Division 1 titles, all since 2005, and is a perfect 7-0 in its championship game appearances. The Wildcats were ranked No. 1 all season by the Michigan High School Soccer Coaches Association.

“All we kept hearing at the beginning of the year was, ‘They’re the defending champ, everyone wants to knock you off,’” Todd Pheiffer said. “We graduated 10 seniors from last year’s team. We are not the same team as last year. We had a good corps coming back, some great senior leadership back, but we were a different team. This was about these girls winning their state championship. I’m just so proud of how this team’s played all year long.”

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS: Novi keeper Sammy Maday sends the ball downfield during the Division 1 Final on Saturday. (Middle) Novi's Lexi Whalen (12) and Plymouth's Audrey Kananen work to get possession. 

McBain Northern Michigan Christian's VanNoord Building on Career Excellence

By Geoff Kimmerly 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.)