Preview: 4 More Seek to Join Champs List

June 16, 2016

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Half of the teams playing in MHSAA Girls Soccer Finals on Friday or Saturday will be seeking their first championships. One, Montrose, will be playing in a championship game for the first time.

And at least one of those four finales, in Division 2, will see some team celebrate an MHSAA title for the first time.

That's just one of the possibilities to look forward to from this season's final weekend. Following is the schedule at DeMartin Stadium:

Division 1 - Friday - 4 p.m.
Canton (17-2-4) vs Rochester Hills Stoney Creek (17-3-3)

Division 2 - Saturday - 4 p.m.
Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern (16-3-4) vs Pontiac Notre Dame Prep (20-1-3)

Division 3 - Saturday - 1 p.m.
Hudsonville Unity Christian (21-2-1) vs Flint Powers Catholic (21-2-1)

Division 4 - Friday - 1 p.m.
Montrose (23-3-1) vs Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett (18-2-1)

Tickets cost $8 per round and include admission to softball and baseball games those days also at MSU’s Old College Field. Radio broadcasts of all games can be heard online at All games will be streamed live online at MHSAA.TV and viewable on subscription basis. Click to order tickets in advance and for a parking map

All statistics below are through Regionals. (Click for links to brackets and scores.)


17-2-4, unranked
Coach: Jeannine Reddy, sixth season (83-28-14)
League finish: First in Kensington Lakes Activities Association South
Championship history: Three MHSAA titles (most recent 2001), three runner-up finishes.
Players to watch: Jennifer Richmond, jr. F; Jordan Anheuser, sr. GK. (Statistics not submitted.)
Outlook: Canton should be riding high from eliminating top-ranked Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central in the Semifinal after needing overtime shootouts twice to advance in earlier rounds. This will be the Chiefs’ first championship game appearance since the last title run 15 years ago. The only losses this spring came in the final two regular-season games, against No. 4 Novi and No. 8 Walled Lake Northern. Richmond earned an all-state honorable mention last season.

17-3-3, No. 10
Coach: Bryan Mittelstadt, sixth season (93-20-6)
League finish: Third in Oakland Activities Conference Red.
Championship history: Division 2 runner-up 2005.  
Players to watch: Taylor Paradoski, sr. F (21 goals, 8 assists); Emily Solek, jr. M (8 goals, 11 assists); Gina Cerny, jr. GK (0.76 goals-against average, 9 shutouts).
Outlook: Stoney Creek won its first Regional title since that 2005 championship game run and has beaten four top-15 teams during this one – No. 2 Utica Eisenhower, No. 4 Novi, No. 7 Utica Ford and No. 14 Troy Athens. The Cougars have outscored their six postseason opponents by a combined score of 11-2. Paradoski, one of two senior starters and three on the roster, made the Division 1 all-state second team last season.


16-3-4, unranked
Coach: Daniel Siminski, third season (48-9-7)
League finish: Second in Ottawa-Kent Conference Bronze.
Championship history: Division 2 runner-up 2010.
Players to watch: Emily Ashby, soph. M/D (4 goals, 8 assists); Sophia Terzes, soph. F/M (9 goals, 20 assists); Amanda Young, jr. GK (0.54 goals-against average, 13 shutouts).
Forest Hills Northern beat No. 13 Dexter in the Semifinal to return to the Finals, but could become a regular contender the next few seasons as defender Shelby Ostrander is the only senior.  Ashby made the all-state third team and Terzes earned an honorable mention last season as freshmen, and junior Natalie Belsito and sophomore Lauren Kozal are the team’s leading scorers with 17 and 11 goals, respectively.

20-1-3, No. 3
Coach: Jim Stachura, seventh season (110-35-10)
League finish: First in Detroit Catholic League Division 2
Championship history: Division 3 runner-up 2013.
Players to watch: Rosella LoChirco, sr. M (15 goals, 11 assists); Celia Gaynor, soph. M (18 goals, 16 assists); Erika Wiest, sr. F (15 goals, 14 assists).
Outlook: Notre Dame Prep’s return to the Finals included wins over No. 1 DeWitt, No. 4 Bloomfield Hills Marian, No. 8 Warren Regina and No. 14 Fenton, with none of six postseason opponents scoring more than a goal on the Fighting Irish. Keeper Haley Williams was giving up only 0.57 goals per game and had nine shutouts coming into the week. LoChirco made the all-state first team last season.


21-2-1, No. 1
Coach: Art Moody, ninth season (160-39-15)
League finish: First in Saginaw Valley League South
Championship history: Division 3 champion 2011, five runner-up finishes.
Players to watch: Sophie Bubnar, soph. F (16 goals, 17 assists); Erin Emmert, sr. M (6 goals, 9 assists); Rachel Phillpotts, jr. D (11 goals, 4 assists).
Outlook: Powers will play in its first Final since finishing runner-up in 2012 thanks to a Quarterfinal win over No. 4 Grosse Ile in addition to previous tournament wins over No. 8 Birch Run and No. 14 Macomb Lutheran North. Phillpotts made the all-state first team last season and is one of three defenders honored; juniors Abbey Clothier and Sydney Willhoite both earned honorable mentions in 2015, and Emmert made the all-state second team. The Chargers have given up only 16 goals this season, and freshman forward Rachel Rasins alone leads Powers with 18 goals.  

21-2-1, No. 2
Coach: Randy Heethuis, 27th season (509-89-29)
League finish: First in O-K Green.
Championship history: Nine MHSAA titles (most recent 2015), three runner-up finishes.
Players to watch: Maddy VanDyke, sr. D (11 goals, 7 assists); Alexis Ponstein, soph. F (10 goals, 11 assists); Emily Ponstein, jr. GK (0.39 goals-against average, 13 shutouts).
Outlook: Unity Christian’s run is up to two straight titles and three over the last four seasons. The Crusaders have gotten past No. 5 Paw Paw and No. 6 Freeland so far this run, outscoring its six tournament opponents by a combined score of 26-1. Unity Christian has given up only 11 goals this season and more than one only twice. VanDyke is a two-time all-state first-teamer. Senior forward Aubree DeRoo had 10 goals entering this week and adds another scoring threat.


18-2-1, No. 4
Coach: David Dwaihy, eighth season (97-44-3)
League finish: First in Michigan Independent Athletic Conference
Championship history: Division 4 champion 2005.
Players to watch: Alexis Wenger, soph. F (28 goals, 10 assists); Kelly Solak, soph. M (12 goals, 12 assists); Maddie Wu, jr. M (2 goals).
Outlook: Liggett won its fifth straight District title and second straight Regional this spring, and could take the next step with a young but talented nucleus. In addition to Wenger and Solak, freshman midfielder Izzy Brusilow had 12 goals and 13 assists entering the week, and junior keeper Kara Francis had 10 shutouts. Senior Madison Jerome and junior Rebecca Lohman joined Wu and Solak among those who earned all-state honors at some level in 2015.

23-3-1, No. 8
Coach: Jason Perrin, 13th season (183-77-20)
League finish: Second in Genesee Area Conference
Championship history: Has never played in an MHSAA Final.
Players to watch: Alexis Rush, sr. GK (0.35 goals-against average, 20 shutouts); Paige Renshaw, sr. M (31 goals, 17 assists); Emma Gipe, fr. F (19 goals, 9 assists).
Outlook: The Rams’ best season has included their first Regional title and now this opportunity but is not entirely a surprise, as Montrose has had a winning record every spring under Perrin. Renshaw earned an all-state honorable mention last season and has plenty of scoring help; in addition to Gipe, senior Ellory Barnette and sophomore Amber Wing both had 14 goals heading into this week, and sophomore Remington Hobson had 11. Montrose handed No. 2 Elk Rapids its first and only loss in the Regional Final and downed top-ranked Lansing Christian in the Semifinal.

PHOTO: Hudsonville Unity Christian players hoist their latest Division 3 championship trophy last season amid the fans and cameras at DeMartin Stadium.

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.)