Performance: Birch Run's Kalyn Breckenridge

May 23, 2016

Kalyn Breckenridge
Birch Run junior – Soccer

Shutting down opponents has become the norm for Birch Run and third-year goalkeeper Breckenridge, who had 29 shutouts in goal heading into this season – and has since added 16 more to tie her previous single-season shutout record set in 2015 (she also broke it originally with 13 as a freshman). Birch Run’s 1-0 win over rival Frankenmuth on May 11 was her 11th straight of a since-ended shutout streak and earned her the Michigan National Guard Performance of the Week for May 9-15.

Breckenridge had 12 saves in the win over the Eagles, and to that point Birch Run had outscored its opponents this season 64-1. The Panthers are ranked No. 8 in Division 3 and clinched a second straight Tri-Valley Conference East championship last week with a win over North Branch, after finishing 16-1-3 last year while losing only in their District Final. Birch Run is 17-3 heading into Monday’s game against Otisville-LakeVille.

Kalyn, along with twin sister Kyla and also-junior Madison Enderle, is part of a strong nucleus that should put the team in MHSAA title contention both next month and again next year. Kalyn Breckenridge earned a Division 3 all-state honorable mention last season and also has broken the school’s career shutouts record (formerly 36) this season. She also plays basketball and has played volleyball during her high school career, and carries a 3.5 grade-point average. Although she has another year to decide where, Breckenridge is interested in a career in law enforcement, possibly with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Coach Duane Enderle said: "(Shutouts are) always a combination of the team, but what separates her from other goalkeepers is when it comes down to making those critical saves, she's able to step up and make those saves. A lot of goalkeepers, you see great defenses in front of them and great numbers too. But when it comes down to facing the 1 v. 1 quick striker at the high school level, a lot of times they don't make those saves. She's been solid (for three years) but is even progressing to a higher level; she has a very high ceiling."  

Performance Point: “I’ve been able to get some action this year more than I did last year, and I feel I’ve just improved throughout my season. Also, my defense and the rest of the team has (improved), and the shutouts have really been a team effort – me doing my job, and also (them doing) theirs. Beating Frankenmuth was a great setup for us. We wanted to win the TVC again this year, win back to back, so it was a special moment for me and the team.”

Have no fear: Breckenridge has played keeper since she was 10. “I also used to be a catcher in softball. I’ve always been hand-eye coordinated. I’ve never been afraid to throw my body out in front of any ball, even if it’s going 30, 40 miles per hour. I’ve always been known to be fearless.”

Play them all: “I was introduced (to all my sports) at a really young age. My sister and I always have been very into athletics. We would hate not doing anything at all. We’d usually go from one practice to the next, and we played softball too, so we were playing four sports at a time and we absolutely loved it. We’ve always had a love for sports; TV or something like that has not been interesting for us.”

Sisterly bond: “It’s definitely special. I get to share with her how we did in the game. When we get home I’ll tell my sister how great she did, and she’ll tell me how great I did. We can share wins together. We’ve always been super close. We’ve never been the arguing type of twins.”

Serve and protect: “I’d like to be an FBI agent or some type of police detective. I used to always want to serve my country in some way. I always wanted to help people, and I guess that really pushed me to do something. ... My dad, grandpa, all my uncles have served our country in a way, and that’s made me want to step up and do the same thing.”

– Geoff Kimmerly, Second Half editor

Every week during the 2015-16 school year, Second Half and the Michigan National Guard will recognize a “Performance of the Week" from among the MHSAA's 750 member high schools.

The Michigan Army National Guard provides trained and ready forces in support of the National Military Strategy, and responds as needed to state, local, and regional emergencies to ensure peace, order, and public safety. The Guard adds value to our communities through continuous interaction. National Guard soldiers are part of the local community. Guardsmen typically train one weekend per month and two weeks in the summer. This training maintains readiness when needed, be it either to defend our nation's freedom, or protecting lives and property of Michigan citizens during a local natural disaster. 

Previous 2015-16 honorees
May 11: Morgan Beadlescomb, Algonac boys track & field - Read
May 4: Abby Krzywiecki, Farmington Hills Mercy softball - Read
April 27: Mike Mokma, Holland Christian baseball - Read
April 20: Abby Divozzo, Cadillac girls soccer - Read
March 30: Cassius Winston, Detroit U-D Jesuit boys basketball - Read
March 23: Kierra Fletcher, Warren Cousino girls basketball - Read
March 16: Jacob Montague, Grosse Pointe South swimming & diving - Read
March 9: Kyle Tuttle, St. Charles boys bowling - Read
March 2: Brittney Schnicke, Caledonia girls bowling - Read
Feb. 24: Kamari Newman, Detroit East English boys basketball - Read
Feb. 17: Jason Whitens, Powers North Central boys basketball - Read 
Feb. 10: Rachel Hogan, Grand Ledge gymnastics - Read
Feb. 3: Nehemiah Mork, Midland Dow swimming & diving - Read
Jan. 27: Mardrekia Cook, Muskegon girls basketball - Read
Jan. 20: Sage Castillo, Hartland wrestling - Read
Jan. 13: Rob Zofchak, Dexter swimming & diving - Read
Jan. 6: Tyler Deming, Caro wrestling – Read
Dec. 15: Jordan Weber, East Jordan boys basketball – Read
Dec. 8: Kaitlyn Geers, Kent City girls basketball – Read

PHOTOS: (Top) Birch Run's Kalyn Breckenridge dives to make a stop against Frankenmuth during a 1-0 shutout on May 11. (Middle) Breckenridge goes into traffic to make another stop. (Photos courtesy of the Frankenmuth athletic department.)

Williams Returns as Hudsonville Seeks Next Step in Pursuit of 1st Finals Title

By Dean Holzwarth
Special for

April 19, 2024

HUDSONVILLE – It was a long eight months for Hudsonville’s Cadence Williams.

West MichiganThe junior standout tore the ACL in her right knee in October 2022 and was forced to miss last season, including the Eagles’ tournament run that saw them finish Division 1 runners-up.

“Last year was probably one of the hardest things I've been through,” Williams said. “It's hard to see the field through a different perspective and just looking at the different things that go on in your life personally.

“I don’t think I would’ve wanted anyone else by my side during that time as far as my teammates and coaches. I could not have done it without their support.”

Williams was playing in a club game with the Michigan Rangers when the injury occurred. She knew the severity immediately. 

“I was running and I changed direction, and right away I figured I knew what it was because I was the fifth person on my club team to do it,” Williams said. “I knew it was going to be a long road from there, but I could only think of the glass half-full and do what I could to get back.”

Hudsonville coach Holly VanNoord felt badly for Williams, especially after she had an immediate impact on the team as a freshman.

“It was super tough because we had so much momentum going because she had a great freshman year,” VanNoord said. “It's hard to impact the varsity level being a freshman, and I thought the way she started from the way she finished … it was just a compliment to the work she put in. We were excited going into sophomore year, so it was that much harder to hear the news when she tore her ACL.”

As difficult as it was for Williams to watch her teammates achieve success without her being able to contribute, VanNoord said Williams remained positive and continued to support them.

Kendall Aikens (15) maintains possession during last season’s Division 1 Final.“It shows a lot about her character because she constantly put the team in front of her personal emotions amongst her injury and never let it affect the team,” she said. “She continued to pour into others despite what she was going through, and that is what I’m proud of her most.”

The injury took its toll, but Williams took it in stride.

“It was physically demanding, but it was also challenging mentally,” she said. “But when I look back, I wouldn't change a single thing that I did to end up where I am today.”

Williams returned to the field late last summer, rejoining her club team. She’s thrilled to be back playing the game she loves and eager to help this year’s Hudsonville team duplicate last year’s success.

The Eagles advanced to their first Division 1 Final before suffering a disappointing 2-1 loss to Rochester Hills Stoney Creek.

“It feels wonderful (to be back playing),” Williams said. “I’m lucky that I have an opportunity to be on a team like this, and I couldn't wait for this season and to see how far we can go.

“I think we are very motivated, and we’re always looking for things to do to get better. I feel like every game we step on the field we just want to win.” 

It turned out to be a triumphant return for Williams in her first game this high school season. She scored two goals in a win over Plainwell.

“She had a great start, and she’s creating opportunities for us,” VanNoord said. “It’s been a great comeback season for her so far, and she is just a powerhouse. She works super hard, and it’s fun for me to see that her motivation is higher than ever.

“I think having that year off and being on the sidelines was super tough, but I think there are a lot of areas of growth and even just gratefulness. She can appreciate the game so much more, and it's probably easier for her to work hard just because she's motivated and fueled up more than ever.”

Williams is an important piece on a talented Hudsonville team currently ranked No. 1 in the state after a 5-0-1 start.

Other key returnees include seniors Kendall Aikens and Adelyn Raad, both four-year varsity players, senior keeper Reid DeGoede and sophomore Lauren Moylan.

Lauren Moylan steps into a kick last season. The Eagles, who graduated six seniors last spring, tied Forest Hills Central and opened Ottawa-Kent Conference Red play this week with a 4-0 win over Grand Haven.

“We had a tough start to our schedule, and we did that on purpose because we wanted a challenge,” VanNoord said. “We want to be one of the best teams in the state, so we have to compete against the best teams in the state. We’re happy with our wins, and even tying FHC made us a better team.”

Hudsonville finished 19-3-2 a year ago and is using the Finals loss as motivation.

“I think now that we got to the state Finals, the girls know what it takes,” VanNoord said. “I think last year they were excited to just get to the Finals, and I think losing put a bitterness in their mouth. They are more motivated than ever to get there, and they know they are going to have to work twice as hard because the Division 1 level is a constant battle.”

This year’s team is loaded with talent from top to bottom. The Eagles lean on a stout defense while possessing an array of playmakers.

“That’s what is so fun; they are very versatile,” VanNoord said. “From the backline of the goalkeeping all the way to the forwards. We just have so much talent and athleticism, and the girls are so willing to be coached and put their heads down and work.

“They are great kids, on and off the field, and culture is a big thing for us. Their buy-in has played a huge factor in our overall success.”

Williams believes this year’s team has the ability to make another extended postseason run.

“I think we have a lot of potential, and we’re still getting used to things and getting used to everyone on the team,” she said. “We play really well together, and hopefully we can make it just as far and hopefully pull out a win for a championship.”

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) Hudsonville’s Cadence Williams (21) works to get a foot on the ball during a 2022 game against Byron Center. (Middle) Kendall Aikens (15) maintains possession during last season’s Division 1 Final. (Below) Lauren Moylan steps into a kick last season. (Top photo courtesy of the Hudsonville girls soccer program; middle photo by Hockey Weekly Action Photos.)