Preview: Championship Rematch Among Headliners at DeMartin Stadium

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor

June 13, 2024

The return of two reigning champions and a rematch of last year’s Division 3 title match are just the start of headlines emerging from this weekend’s MHSAA Girls Soccer Finals at DeMartin Stadium.

There should be some familiarity this weekend for most contenders as six of the final eight teams have reached the season’s final weekend at least once since 2021 – including Hudsonville Unity Christian and Grosse Ile, which played to a 3-0 Crusaders win a year ago, and Kalamazoo Christian which is seeking a repeat as well.

Three teams are seeking a first championship, and a fourth its first this century.

Following is this weekend’s schedule:

Division 1 - Friday - 4 p.m.
Hartland vs. Rochester Adams

Division 2 - Saturday - 4 p.m.
Spring Lake vs. Bloomfield Hills Marian

Division 3 - Saturday - 1 p.m.
Hudsonville Unity Christian vs. Grosse Ile

Division 4 - Friday - 1 p.m.
Kalamazoo Christian vs. Jackson Lumen Christi

Tickets cost $11 and may be purchased online only at GoFan. One ticket is good for all soccer, softball and baseball games at MSU’s Old College Field that day. All four Finals will be broadcast and available with subscription from MHSAA.tv, with free audio broadcasts on the MHSAA Network.

Below is a glance at all eight teams taking the field, with statistics through Regionals:

Division 1

HARTLAND
Record/rank: 16-3-3, No. 11
League finish: First in Kensington Lakes Activities Association West
Coach:
 Andrew Kartsounes, 19th season (230-91-52)
Championship history: Division 1 champion 2021.
Players to watch:
 Alyse Daavettila, sr. F/M (12 goals, 6 assists); Addie Frantti, jr. F/M (9 goals, 8 assists); Paige Sundman, soph. F (10 goals, 3 assists); Jenna Brock, jr. GK (0.95 goals-against average, 9 shutouts).
Outlook: Hartland suffered one of its lone losses this spring to Livonia Stevenson in the regular-season finale, but bounced right back to win a third District and second Regional championship in four seasons. The only other defeats came in the season opener to Salem and in late April to No. 10 Midland Dow, and the Eagles earned a win and draw with No. 9 Canton in league play. Daavettila made the all-state third team last season. Midfielder Emma Kastamo is another of four senior starters and had five goals and seven assists entering the week.

ROCHESTER ADAMS
Record/rank: 15-2-2, No. 6
League finish: Second in Oakland Activities Association Red
Coach: Josh Hickey, seventh season (77-29-16)
Championship history: Two MHSAA titles (most recent 1999), two runner-up finishes.
Players to watch:
 Lexi Calcamuggio, soph. GK (0.70 goals-against average, 7 shutouts); Evelyn Kekhoua, sr. F (12 goals, 4 assists); Danielle Danko, sr. M (10 goals, 6 assists); Sadie Rogers, jr. M (11 goals, 8 assists).
Outlook: After reaching its first Semifinal since 2012, Adams is headed to the Finals for the first time since its most recent championship season of 1999. An overtime win over No. 3 Troy in their Regional Final has highlighted this run, with Troy having handed the Highlanders their first loss in early April. The other defeat came against No. 9 Rochester Hills Stoney Creek, and Adams rebounded quickly and picked up late regular-season wins over Dow (5-0) and No. 12 Troy Athens (4-1). Rogers earned an all-state honorable mention last season.

Division 2

BLOOMFIELD HILLS MARIAN
Record/rank: 15-3-3, No. 8
League finish: First in Catholic High School League Central
Coach: Danny Price, first season (15-3-3)
Championship history: 10 MHSAA titles (most recent 2021), three runner-up finishes.
Players to watch:
 Dani Mertz, sr. GK (0.53 goals-against average, 14 shutouts); Nia Bordogna, fr. M (5 goals, 10 assists); Olivia Zahnow, sr. D; Clair Dauer, soph. M (15 goals, 2 assists).
Outlook: Marian missed the Finals last season for the first time since 2016 (not counting COVID-canceled 2020), but have returned under Price, who played professionally in England and also has coached Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice’s boys team since 2019. He inherited plenty of talent; Dauer made the all-state second team last season, Zahnow made the third team, and Mertz, junior defender Nadia Valka, sophomore defender/forward Lily Robinson and junior forward Bella Musachio all earned honorable mentions. The second-leading scorer is sophomore forward Giulianna Agrusso (10 goals, 3 assists) and three more players were next with five goals apiece entering this week. The Mustangs have not allowed a goal over six postseason games, a run that included avenging their most recent loss, to Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood. The other defeats came to Okemos and No. 11 Mason.

SPRING LAKE
Record/rank: 16-2-5, No. 1
League finish: Second in Ottawa-Kent Conference Blue
Coach: Becky May, eighth season (118-17-13)
Championship history: Division 2 runner-up 2021.
Players to watch:
 Jessica Stewart, sr. GK (0.76 goals-against average, 10 shutouts); Ella Andree, sr. F (12 goals, 6 assists); Clara Saunders, sr. M (10 goals, 16 assists); Aveya Patino, fr. F (27 goals, 7 assists).
Outlook: Spring Lake earned this return to the Finals for the second time in four seasons in part by defeating No. 7 Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central and No. 3 Midland in its Regional, and its only losses were to Division 3 top-ranked Hudsonville Unity Christian and No. 4 Grand Rapids South Christian. The Lakers then came back to earn a draw with Unity in the league tournament championship game. Saunders made the all-state first team last season, Andree and Stewart made the second team and senior defender Brooke Bolthouse earned an honorable mention.

Division 3

GROSSE ILE
Record/rank: 17-2-5, No. 5
League finish: Second in Huron League
Coach: Kyle Lesperance, sixth season (80-17-14)
Championship history: Division 3 runner-up 2023.
Players to watch:
 Addison Nemeth, sr. D; Cassidy Eblin, sr. M (8 goals, 18 assists); Alaina Korody, jr. D (8 goals, 4 assists); Mallory Botten, jr. F (20 goals, 21 assists).
Outlook: After several successful seasons, Grosse Ile broke through last year to make the Finals for the first time – and will now play for a first championship again in a rematch of last season’s title game. The Red Devils defeated No. 12 Detroit Country Day to advance, and their only losses were to Division 1 No. 4 Saline and Division 2 No. 10 New Boston Huron. Korody and Eblin made the all-state third team last season, and Nemeth earned honorable mention. Junior Monica Arndt is giving up only 1.06 goals per game in net, with 11 shutouts heading into the week.

HUDSONVILLE UNITY CHRISTIAN
Record/rank: 21-1-1, No. 1
League finish: First in O-K Blue
Coach: Randy Heethuis, 35th season (641-105-42)
Championship history: 11 MHSAA titles (most recent 2023), four runner-up finishes.
Players to watch:
 Vivian Nagelkirk, sr. F/M (22 goals, 8 assists); Ava Lutke, jr. F (18 goals, 15 assists); Anna Newhof, sr. GK (0.50 goals-against average, 9 shutouts); Kyle Kobrzycki, fr. F/M (13 goals, 9 assists).
Outlook: Unity just keeps rolling, with this weekend providing an opportunity to repeat as a champion for the first time since winning three straight Division 3 titles from 2014-16. Lutke made the all-state first team last season, but the Crusaders replaced seven graduates who also earned all-state honors and this spring still lost only to Division 1 No. 1 Hudsonville (and by just a goal). In addition to those listed above, five more players entered this week with at least six goals or five assists, or both. They have yet to allow a goal in the playoffs with wins over No. 4 Grand Rapids South Christian, No. 10 Grand Rapids West Catholic and No. 14 Freeland highlighting the run.

Division 4

JACKSON LUMEN CHRISTI
Record/rank: 13-7, unranked
League finish: Eighth in CHSL AA
Coach: Blake Newman-Gillig, fourth season (42-31-4)
Championship history: Division 4 runner-up 2000.
Players to watch:
 Codi Ruge, soph. F (16 goals, 4 assists); Paityn Petitto, jr. F (9 goals, 9 assists); Izzy Ermatinger, sr. GK (1.80 goals-against average, 7 shutouts); Kathleen Doane, jr. D (6 goals, 2 assists).
Outlook: Lumen Christi went from unranked to Regional champion for the first time since 2007, and has taken another step as well allowing only one goal over six postseason games including wins over No. 5 Manchester, No. 8 Auburn Hills Oakland Christian and a Regional Final victory over Royal Oak Shrine Catholic that avenged a 5-0 regular-season defeat. Doane made the all-state second team last season, and Ruge earned an honorable mention. Senior forward Brooke Lefere had added eight goals heading into this week.

KALAMAZOO CHRISTIAN
Record/rank: 18-4-2, No. 6
League finish: Tied for first in Southwestern Athletic Conference Valley
Coach: Jay Allen, 11th season (181-35-8)
Championship history: Five MHSAA titles (most recent 2023), four runner-up finishes.
Players to watch:
 Emily Gorton, soph. (11 goals, 5 assists); Izzy Suloff, soph. (16 goals, 4 assists); Jordyn Bonnema, jr. (12 goals, 4 assists); Elizabeth Netz, sr. GK (12 shutouts).

Outlook: After four runner-up finishes over a five-season span heading into last year’s Final, Kalamazoo Christian won its first championship since 2008 and now will seek what would be a third repeat in program history. This run has been highlighted by wins over No. 7 Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian and No. 10 Kalamazoo Hackett Catholic Prep – and shared the SAC Valley title after drawing with the latter during the regular season. The Comets also own a 2-1 win over Jackson Lumen Christi from May 2.

PHOTO Unity Christian’s Vivian Nagelkirk (3) and Grosse Ile’s Olivia Zuccaro contend for the ball during last season’s Division 3 Final. 

Record-Setting Viney Gained Lifelong Confidence at Marine City

By Paul Costanzo
Special for MHSAA.com

July 17, 2024

Olivia Viney didn’t have to look far for inspiration while taking on the challenge of applying to veterinary school.

Made In Michigan and Michigan Army National Guard logosThe 2015 Marine City graduate and record-setting placekicker simply drew from her own experience as a high school athlete.

“It just really taught me that I could do hard things,” Viney said. “I was very involved when I was in school. I did soccer, theater, travel soccer and then football. Especially with football, I learned that if I put my mind to it, I can do it. That helped me to excel in undergrad. When it came time to get accepted to vet school, it was like, ‘This is what I have to do,’ and I did it. That was very confidence-building. It taught me that I really can do hard things.”

Viney, who graduated from Saginaw Valley State University in 2019 and Michigan State Veterinary School in 2023, is now working as an associate veterinarian at Deporre Veterinary Hospital in West Bloomfield. 

Accomplishing her goals is nothing new to Viney, and not at all a surprise to those who watched her come through the Mariners athletic program.

“She was very serious, she was focused and she was dialed in,” said Dave Frendt, who coached Viney in both football and soccer at Marine City. “She knew what she wanted to accomplish, and she set out to do that. She was a fierce competitor and very driven. She was a good leader in that way where she was kind of feisty, but the team would follow that.”

Viney was an all-state soccer player for the Mariners, leading them to a pair of District titles and a Macomb Area Conference Gold title during her four years as a varsity player. It’s the sport she grew up playing, but the one she was most known for after graduation was football. American football.

The 5-foot-1-ish center attacking midfielder found herself in the MHSAA football record book after hitting all seven of her extra point attempts in the Mariners’ 2013 Division 4 Final victory against Grand Rapids South Christian.

“I think it makes sense,” she said. “There were lots of great soccer players, even that I played with. Great players that had gone through school, so I don’t think it’s weird that people remember me for that. When I talk with people, they’ll connect the dots – ‘Oh, you played football.’

“I was more accomplished as a soccer player and had more accolades. But I’m prouder of my football accomplishments, because it was really setting a pathway for girls that wanted to get into that. It’s so much more common now, or accepted. Even though it’s been almost 11 years since we won at Ford Field, I’m so proud of high school Olivia and what she did, the courage she had. She wasn’t scared of anything.”

Viney graduated from MSU’s Veterinary School in 2023. Viney joined Marine City’s football program as a sophomore, playing on the junior varsity squad. While she was there only to kick, she was all in when it came to practicing.

“Coach (Joe) Fregetto made me do tackling drills and drills in the mud – I really did earn my spot on the team,” Viney said. “I think it was mostly because he didn’t know what to do with me, so I guess just do everything that the guys do.”

She handled varsity kicking duties the next two years, setting the school record in 2013 for most extra points made during a single season – a record that still stands. Former Mariners coach Ron Glodich said that Viney actually never missed an extra point that season, as the four failed attempts were never even kicked.

It was her performance in the Division 4 Final that gained her statewide acclaim, as she hit 7 of 7 attempts, tying a record for most extra points made in a Finals game. It stood until a pair of kickers hit eight in 2022.

One record that never will be broken, however, is Viney becoming the first female to score a point at the Finals.

“Everything was so surreal, I was so nervous,” Viney said. “One of my most vivid memories was that day, or maybe the day before, Coach Glodich said, ‘Just so you know, when you get to the field, the goal posts are two feet narrower on each side. But that doesn’t matter if you kick it in the middle.’

“We got there and watched the team before us so we could get used to it, and I remember thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, they’re so narrow.’ … Seeing myself up on the big screen was kind of almost a little embarrassing, because I knew people were talking about me being the girl. But once we were in the game, it was a lot like any other game. I was just waiting for my turn to go on the field and do my job.”

Viney later was featured in Sports Illustrated’s “Faces in the Crowd” – ironically, right below current U.S. Women’s National Team forward Mallory Pugh – but she wasn’t looked at any differently by her teammates, and she wouldn’t have wanted to be.

“That team was all about sacrifice for the team,” Frendt said. “For them to realize, ‘None of us can do what she does, so we better embrace it, because no one else can do it.’ They really made her feel like part of the team. They wanted to protect her, too. But she was tough. She wasn’t going to take anything.”

Viney went to SVSU to study biology and played for its club soccer team. During her time there, she volunteered at an animal shelter and made the decision she wanted to help animals in her career. She works in general practice at Deporre, and would eventually like to work in shelter medicine.

She and her husband Matt, who were married in May, live with their three dogs. She’s not far from home, and in the spring of 2023 she visited Frendt’s college and career readiness class to speak with students at her alma mater. Her presentation and the attention to detail and hard work she put into it, Frendt said, blew his students away. Not that it surprised him.

“That’s poured into her life after sports,” he said of her work ethic. “She just kept plugging away. She’s awesome.”

July 11: High School 'Hoop Squad' Close to Heart as Hughes Continues Coaching Climb - Read
July 10: 
Nightingale Embarking on 1st Season as College Football Head Coach - Read
June 28:
 E-TC's Witt Bulldozing Path from Small Town to Football's Biggest Stage - Read

PHOTOS (Top) Marine City’s Olivia Viney kicks at the 2013 11-Player Football Finals, also during her spring soccer season, and cares for one of her patients as an associate veterinarian. (Middle) Viney graduated from MSU’s Veterinary School in 2023. (Photos courtesy of Olivia Viney.)