Preview: Final 8 Filled with Ranked Contenders, Familiar Champs

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

June 16, 2022

This weekend’s Girls Soccer Finals field includes two of the winningest champions in MHSAA history, and two teams hoping to celebrate the ultimate prize for the first time.

Hudsonville Unity Christian with 10 Finals titles and Marian with nine trail only Madison Heights Bishop Foley’s 12 on the list of most MHSAA girls soccer championships.

Unity’s opponent in the Division 3 Final – two-time runner-up Williamston – is joined by Division 1 Bloomfield Hills as contenders seeking that first title. The other four finalists have a combined 12 championships between them.

Following is this weekend’s schedule:

Division 1 - Friday - 4 p.m.
Bloomfield Hills vs Northville

Division 2 - Saturday - 4 p.m.
Bloomfield Hills Marian vs Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central

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

Division 4 - Friday - 1 p.m.
Royal Oak Shrine vs Kalamazoo Christian

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, 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

Record/rank: 14-2-3, No. 12
League finish: Third in Oakland Activities Association Red
Coach: Alan Zakaria, ninth season (77-30-19)
Championship history: Will be playing in first MHSAA Final.
Players to watch: Drew Martin, sr. M (16 goals, 8 assists); Esther Rosett, sr. F (15 goals, three assists); Ava Badallo, sr. F (15 goals, eight assists); Jenica Opdahl, soph. GK (1.10 goals-against average, 10 shutouts).
Outlook: Bloomfield Hills clinched its first Regional title with a 2-1 win over 2021 champion and No. 3-ranked Hartland, and then reached the championship game with a 1-0 Quarterfinal win over No. 9 Portage Central. The Black Hawks are on an 11-0-3 streak over the last two months. Martin made the all-state third team and Rosett earned an honorable mention last season. Senior Alice Spiegel also is among team leaders with seven assists from the midfield.

18-0-5, No. 1
League finish: First in Kensington Lakes Activities Association West
Coach: Jeannine Reddy, first season (18-0-5)
Championship history: Third MHSAA title (most recent 2014), two runner-up finishes.
Players to watch: Lauren Moraitis, sr. D (9 goals, 23 assists), Sylvia Bohlen, sr. F (9 goals, 4 assists), Caroline Meloche, soph. D (13 goals, 2 assists); Simran Magnan, fr. GK (0.13 goals-against average).
Outlook: The top-ranked Mustangs have given up seven goals total this season and only one over five playoff games – the 2-1 Semifinal win over No. 5 Rochester. Northville also defeated No. 14 Salem in the District Final after tying Salem in both regular-season meetings. Nine senior starters have helped Northville improve from 12-9 a year ago and win its first Regional title since that most recent championship season. Reddy previously led Canton to a Division 1 runner-up finish in 2016.

Division 2

17-1, No. 2
League finish: First in Detroit Catholic League Central
Coach: Reid Friedrichs, first season (17-1)
Championship history: Nine MHSAA titles (most recent 2021), three runner-up finishes.
Players to watch: Elle Ervin, soph. F (18 goals, 17 assists); Isa Agrusso, sr. M (19 goals, 9 assists); Abby Lucchesi, sr. M (5 goals, 16 assists); Angelina Briggs, sr. M (18 goals, 9 assists).
Outlook: Marian is seeking a fifth-straight Division 2 title and sits third in MHSAA history with nine total. All nine were won with retired coach Barry Brodsky, but Friedrichs brings a significant resume as a former all-stater at Ann Arbor Pioneer, Big Ten Player of the Year at Michigan State and coach at a variety of stops including Alma College and highly-regarded school and club programs. He inherited a roster and returned an all-state first teamer in Ervin, second teamer in Briggs and third teamer in Lucchesi. This tournament run has included a District Final win over No. 8 Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood and Semifinal win over No. 7 Haslett.

19-2-1, No. 4
League finish: First in Ottawa-Kent Conference White
Coach: Ashley Ludtke, fifth season (75-11-2)
Championship history: Four MHSAA titles (most recent 2017), one runner-up finish.
Players to watch: Theryn Hallock, sr. F (32 goals, 14 assists); Lauren Koczenasz, sr. D (14 goals, 4 assists), Ruthie VanSkiver, sr. M (13 goals, 5 assists), Dailey Tucker, jr. F (9 goals, 16 assists).
Outlook: Forest Hills Central reached the Semifinals for the third-straight season and pushed through to the weekend with a 3-1 Semifinal win over No. 6 Richland Gull Lake. FHC also defeated No. 3 Spring Lake in the Regional Final. Hallock, who will play basketball at Michigan State, returned to the soccer field this spring for the first time since middle school and paces the offense for a team that lost only to Gull Lake in its regular-season opener and Division 3 finalist Hudsonville Unity Christian. Senior Stella Sutton also is among team leaders in assists with 14 (and six goals) from the midfield.

Division 3

21-1-1, No. 2
League finish: First in O-K Blue
Coach: Randy Heethuis, 33rd season (599-102-40)
Championship history: Ten MHSAA titles (most recent 2016), three runner-up finishes.
Players to watch: Brianna Rose, jr. D (5 goals, 1 assist); Jessie Postma, jr. M (5 goals, 13 assists); Ava Lutke, fr. F (25 goals, 18 assists); Jenna Schreiber, jr. M (12 goals, 8 assists).
Outlook: After also reaching the Semifinals last season, Unity is back in the championship game to finish a run that’s included wins over No. 4 Grand Rapids South Christian, No. 5 Elk Rapids and No. 14 Holland Christian. Unity has given up only five goals over its last 16 games, a stretch that began with a shutout April 29 of Division 2 finalist Forest Hills Central. The only loss came in the season opener to Division 1 No. 2 Hudsonville. Rose made the all-state first team last season, and Postma earned an honorable mention. Juniors Jordan Steen (11 goals/4 assists) off the bench and Olivia Bosworth (8/12) also are among top contributors offensively.

16-2-1, No. 1
League finish: First in Capital Area Activities Conference Red
Coach: Steve Horn, seventh season (80-24-5)
Championship history: Division 3 runner-up 2010 and 2008.
Players to watch: Ella Kleiver, jr. F (35 goals, 8 assists); Kaley Douglass, sr. F (11 goals, 9 assists); Liz Bellinger, sr. M (6 goals, 22 assists), Ellie Maxson, sr. D (3 goals, 2 assists).
Outlook: The Hornets won their second-straight Regional title and took the next step in the Semifinal, defeating No. 3 Pontiac Notre Dame Prep in a shootout to advance. Williamston also defeated No. 7 Essexville Garber and No. 13 Flint Powers Catholic during this tournament run, with its only losses this season to Division 1 No. 6 Midland Dow and Division 2 No. 7 Haslett. Bellinger, Kleiver and junior keeper Abby Pieper made the all-state first team last season, Douglass made the second team, Maxson made the third and senior Sophie Casey and junior Emma Gorsline earned honorable mentions. Pieper and junior Taylor Stenzel have combined this spring to give up 17 goals – or 0.94 per game. Junior Breyer Fenech had added seven goals and 10 assists entering the week.

Division 4

19-5, No. 7
League finish: First in Southwestern Athletic Conference
Coach: Jay Allen, seventh season (148-30-13)
Championship history: Four MHSAA titles (most recent 2008), three runner-up finishes.
Players to watch: Ellie Batts, sr. M; Elizabeth Netz, soph. GK; Taylor Leonard, jr. M/F. (Statistics not submitted.)
Outlook: Kalamazoo Christian finished Division 4 runner-up three straight seasons from 2017-19, and is back this weekend after giving up only one goal over six playoff games. This tournament run has included wins over No. 3 Lansing Christian and No. 4 North Muskegon. The Comets have 15 shutouts total, with sophomores Sophia Nash and Phoebe Zeyl and senior Madison Triemstra lined up to provide defense in front of Netz. Leonard made the all-state second team last season, and Batts made the third.

16-4-2, No. 10
League finish: Third in Detroit Catholic League AA
Coach: Mark Soma, 22nd season (record N/A)
Championship history: Division 4 champion 2019, runner-up 2021.
Players to watch: Elena Gallagher, soph. GK (0.95 goals-against average, 9 shutouts); Norah Tisko, jr. F (6 goals, 5 assists); Bridgette Drouillard, sr. M (14 goals, 16 assists); Julia Bock, soph. F (9 goals, 5 assists).
Outlook: Shrine is making a third-straight trip to the Division 4 Final, this time after an overtime Semifinal win over Bad Axe and with victories over No. 2 Madison Heights Bishop Foley, No. 5 Clarkston Everest Collegiate and No. 14 Plymouth Christian Academy also part of the run. The Everest win avenged a regular-season loss. Gallagher and Drouillard made the all-state first team last season, and Tisko earned an honorable mention. Senior Claire Plaskey (4 goals/8 assists) also is among key contributors in the midfield.

PHOTO Unity Christian’s Rachel Cremer (14) sends a shot toward the Otsego goal during their Division 3 Regional Final. (Photo by Gary Shook.)

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.)