Plenty to Celebrate for Stoney Creek

June 17, 2016

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

EAST LANSING – Happy Birthday, Emily Solek. Happy first championship, Rochester Hills Stoney Creek.

Friday surely will be a milestone day to remember for the lone scorer in this season’s MHSAA Division 1 Final – and also for teammates who with her earned the program’s first girls soccer championship, against most expectations.

Stoney Creek entered the postseason ranked No. 10 in Division 1, the same spot it occupied in the first state coaches poll in mid-April and its highest ranking this spring. But it finished No. 1 Friday, with Solek connecting on a penalty kick with just under 11 minutes to play, giving the junior midfielder a little more to celebrate than ice cream and cake.

“Coming into this season, there were a lot of doubts about this team,” Solek said. “I think just because we had 12 seniors graduating last year, that it was just going to be a new team, new players and hard to get the vibe going.

“I think we were all up for the challenge.”

Stoney Creek’s only other MHSAA championship game appearance came in 2005, in Division 2. The Cougars exited last season in the Regional Semifinal with a shootout loss to Grand Blanc, the eventual Division 1 runner-up.

Given that that team graduated five players who earned all-state recognition, and this season’s team brought back only three seniors, it was fair to not expect much more of a run this time.

But that clearly wasn’t giving Stoney Creek (18-3-3) enough credit.

The Cougars earned their first Regional title since that last championship game run 11 years ago and got to MSU in part by downing No. 2 Utica Eisenhower, No. 4 Novi, No. 7 Utica Ford and No. 14 Troy Athens.

“We just realized that we just have to work our hardest, and then good things will come from that,” Solek said. “Our motto was kinda like, ‘Game by Game,’ and that’s how we took it.”

Stoney Creek had 12 shots Friday to Canton’s four, but only four on goal. Canton’s defense gave up only five goals over seven MHSAA postseason games.

But the Cougars kept pressuring the Chiefs on Friday. Three of those shots on goal came during the second half, and Canton senior keeper Jordan Anheuser made an especially impressive set of stops near the 24-minute mark in the second half when she punched away a crossing pass and then slid into the attack to deflect another shot and diffuse a potential rally.

Stoney Creek received the penalty shot after a long pass was launched in front of the Canton net and an attempted header toward the goal drew the foul. Solek punched her deciding kick into the lower right side of the net because “that’s where I go every time on my PKs,” she said.

“Canton did just a great job of winning the ball in the air and getting us out of the zone,” Stoney Creek coach Bryan Mittelstadt said. “We kept trying to push and push and push. (They have) a very strong back line and a very disciplined goalie. We just kept trying to get through the back line, and it was very difficult all day. “

The Chiefs’ run to East Lansing also was considered unexpected, seeing as they weren’t ranked at the end of the regular season after falling in their last two games before the start of tournament play.

But Canton (18-2-4), seeking its first MHSAA title since 2001, made its point by downing top-ranked Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central 2-1 in the Semifinal.

“It’s a disappointing way to end the season, but I am so proud of my team,” Anheuser said. “To not be ranked and go this far, we were definitely the underdog, and I’m proud of everything we accomplished this season. (We’re) still going out on a good note.”

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS: (Top) Rochester Hills Stoney Creek hoists its first MHSAA championship trophy in girls soccer Friday at DeMartin Stadium. (Middle) Stoney Creek’s Isabella Langusch (18) and Canton’s Jennifer Richmond work for possession.

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.)