Preview: Miss Soccer, Unforgettable Playoff Runs Headline Finals Lineup

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

June 15, 2023

The reigning Miss Soccer will play at Michigan State’s DeMartin Stadium this weekend, as will several more returning all-staters, three teams seeking first Finals championships and the second-winningest title winner in state girls soccer history.

And then there are a pair of programs enjoying two of the most incredible tournament runs from the sport’s four decades of MHSAA history.

Dating back to at least 1991 (when team records were first included on MHSAA Finals summaries currently published), no team had reached an MHSAA championship match with fewer than 10 wins – until Grosse Pointe North and Clarkston Everest Collegiate did so this week. North will play for the Division 2 title, and Everest for the championship in Division 4.

Following is this weekend’s schedule:

Division 1 - Saturday - 4 p.m.
Hudsonville vs. Rochester Hills Stoney Creek

Division 2 - Friday - 4 p.m.
East Grand Rapids vs. Grosse Pointe North

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

Division 4 - Saturday - 1 p.m.
Kalamazoo Christian vs. Clarkston Everest Collegiate

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

 19-2-2, No. 4
League finish: First in Ottawa-Kent Conference Red
Coach: Holly VanNoord, sixth season (69-19-14)
Championship history: Has never played in an MHSAA Final.
Players to watch: Samantha Sokolove, sr. D (4 goals, 8 assists); Kendall Aikens, jr. M (19 goals, 14 assists); Maislin Joldersma, jr. F (16 goals, 1 assist); Raeleigh Woodwyk, sr. F (7 goals, 2 assists).

Outlook: Hudsonville has turned its first Regional title into its first championship match appearance, thanks to a 2-0 win over No. 2 Northville in Wednesday’s Semifinal. The Eagles have not allowed a goal in five postseason games, including a 1-0 win over No. 7 Portage Central in the Regional Final. It all adds up; VanNoord was one of the most accomplished keepers in MHSAA history and still holds single-season and career shutouts records from her four seasons at Unity Christian from 2009-12. Senior Clara Feenstra made the all-state first team last season and has shared duties with junior Reid DeGoede – together they’ve played all but 12 minutes in net this spring, allowing a combined 10 goals with a combined 15 shutouts. Aikens made the all-state third team last season, and Sokolove and Woodwyk earned honorable mentions.

 25-1-1, No. 3
League finish: Second in Oakland Activities Association Red
Coach: Bryan Mittelstadt, 13th season (191-39-19)
Championship history: Division 1 champion 2016, Division 2 runner-up 2005.
Players to watch: Lilley Bosley, sr. M/F (40 goals, 11 assists); Sarina Shaw, jr. M (6 goals, 7 assists); Kaeli Butcher, sr. M (4 goals, 15 assists); Madeline McGinlay, sr. M/F (12 goals, 7 assists).
Outlook: Paced by returning Miss Soccer Award honoree Bosley, Stoney Creek has navigated two overtime games including one decided by shootout against No. 12 Utica Eisenhower, plus downed top-ranked Rochester and No. 15 Saline on the way to East Lansing. Bosley had scored 40 of the team’s 79 goals through the Regional Final and has signed with Michigan. McGinlay earned an all-state honorable mention last season. Keepers Merrick Schwalbach, a sophomore, and freshman Jessica Kennedy have combined to give up only 10 goals with 19 shutouts. The Cougars had drawn with Rochester during the regular season, with their lone loss to No. 9 Rochester Adams.

Division 2

 18-2-3, No. 4
League finish: Third in O-K White
Coach: Fabian Rodriguez, sixth season (46-32-9)
Championship history: Three MHSAA titles (most recent 2002), two runner-up finishes.
Players to watch: Makenna Gessner, sr. GK; Gracie Lynn, fr. M; Reese Lynn, fr. M; Margaret Periard, sr. M. (Statistics not submitted.)
Outlook: East Grand Rapids will play in its first Final since 2009 after navigating a path that included wins over top-ranked Spring Lake, No. 11 Plainwell and No. 12 Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central. The team’s only losses were both to No. 3 Forest Hills Northern. The surge could continue into next season and beyond – only three seniors start, with Caitlin Brown joining the Reese sisters as freshmen among the top 11.

 9-7-7, unranked
League finish: Fifth in Macomb Area Conference Red
Coach: Olivia Dallaire, ninth season (78-60-20)
Championship history: Division 1 runner-up 2008.
Players to watch: Grace McCormick, sr. G (1.09 goals-against average, 8 shutouts); Megan Robert, sr. D (2 goals, 8 assists); Amelia Streberger, jr. M (16 goals, 5 assists); Ava Mattaliano, sr. G/D.
Outlook: Dallaire, a junior on GPN’s 2008 runner-up team who went on to play at Michigan State, has led the Norsemen past No. 2 Bloomfield Hills Marian in a Regional Semifinal shootout and also to wins over No. 6 Trenton and No. 10 Linden during this unforgettable run. North had closed the regular season 1-2-5 over its final eight games and had scored 16 goals total over 18 games heading into the postseason, but has outscored its five playoff opponents by a combined 7-3 margin.

Division 3

 17-2-4, No. 10
League finish: Second in Huron League

Coach: Kyle Lesperance, fifth season (63-14-9)
Championship history: Has never played in an MHSAA Final.
Players to watch: Cailey O’Farrell, sr. GK (0.70 goals-against average, 10 shutouts); Cassidy Eblin, jr. M (7 goals, 13 assists); Natalee Kirk, sr. F (35 goals, 7 assists); Aubree Korody, soph. F (14 goals, 4 assists).
Outlook: Grosse Ile won its second Regional title, adding to its championship in 2016, and advanced to this weekend with a shootout win over No. 6 Flint Powers Catholic. The Red Devils also earned postseason wins over No. 5 Williamston and No. 11 Milan and are 8-1-3 since losing their first of three meetings with Milan this spring; the other loss came to Division 1 No. 5 Troy Athens. Kirk earned an all-state honorable mention last season, and Grosse Ile also gets a scoring boost from senior Mia Pascuzzi, who had eight goals and eight assists entering this week.

 20-1-2, No. 1
League finish: First in O-K Blue
Coach: Randy Heethuis, 34th (619-104-41)
Championship history: Ten MHSAA titles (most recent 2016), four runner-up finishes.
Players to watch: Morgan Scholten, sr. GK (0.37 goals-against average, 11 shutouts); Brianna Rose, sr. D (1 goal, 2 assists); Jessie Postma, sr. M (3 goals, 10 assists); Ava Lutke, soph. F (25 goals, 15 assists).
Outlook: A team that returned to the championship game last season featuring several juniors is back and a year older, with Rose coming off her second all-state first-team selection and Lutke also making the first team last year. Scholten made the all-state second team a year ago, Postma made the third and senior Olivia Bosworth (8 goals, 8 assists) earned an honorable mention. She’s one of seven players who entered this week with at least eight goals; other top scorers this spring are senior Jenna Schreiber (13/10), junior Stella DeSmit (11/8) and senior Jordan Steen (11/5). Unity’s only loss was to Division 2 No. 9 Richland Gull Lake, and it downed No. 3 Elk Rapids, No. 12 Allegan and No. 14 Holland Christian during this tournament run.

Division 4

 8-7-1, unranked
League finish: Seventh in Detroit Catholic League AA
Coach: Richard Cross, seventh season (59-48-10)
Championship history: Division 4 champion (as part of a co-operative with Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes) in 2010, three runner-up finishes with Our Lady.
Players to watch: Kathleen Thibodeau, jr. F (8 goals); Maria Saad, soph. D/M (4 goals, 7 assists); Erica Walker, soph. F (7 goals, 8 assists); Morgan McNally, jr. M (9 goals, 11 assists).
Outlook: After starting 2-0-1, Everest didn’t win again until its regular-season finale – a stretch of seven games that included three against top-nine teams in Division 4 and the No. 7 team in Division 2. Switch to the postseason, and the Mountaineers opened with a shootout win over Rochester Hills Lutheran Northwest and then shut out its next four opponents including No. 6 Saginaw Nouvel and top-ranked Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett – the latter avenging a 5-1 loss a little more than a month earlier. There are only three senior starters, with Caroline Cross – an all-state honorable mention last season – out with an injury. Everest co-ops with Bloomfield Hills Academy of the Sacred Heart.

 18-6, No. 7
League finish: First in Southwestern Athletic Conference Valley
Coach: Jay Allen, 10th season (162-31-6)
Championship history: Four MHSAA titles (most recent 2008), four runner-up finishes.
Players to watch: Taylor Leonard, sr. F (39 goals, 12 assists); Jordyn Bonnema, soph. M (15 goals, 20 assists); Rylan Smith, sr. F; Elizabeth Netz, jr. GK.
Outlook: Kalamazoo Christian has finished runner-up four of the last five seasons, last year falling only 1-0 to Royal Oak Shrine Catholic. Leonard made the all-state first team and Netz made the third team last spring, and for the second-straight year the Comets have given up only one goal during the postseason heading into the championship game. Those four shutouts were the latest of 14 total this year. This season’s playoff run has included victories over No. 2 North Muskegon and No. 13 Grandville Calvin Christian. Only one loss this spring came to a Division 4 team, No. 15 Lansing Christian.

PHOTO Grosse Pointe North’s Megan Robert steps into a kick against Romeo this spring. (Photo by Chris Mudd/National Photo Scout.)

'Where is Spring Lake?' They'll Know Now as Lakers Begin Reign Atop D2

By Paul Costanzo
Special for

June 15, 2024

EAST LANSING – Ella Andree and Clara Saunders started recording a three-part Tik Tok on the opening day of Spring Lake’s girls soccer season, knowing that in order to film Parts 2 and 3 they would need to advance to, and win, the MHSAA Division 2 Final.

On Saturday, they finished the video.

Spring Lake defeated Bloomfield Hills Marian 1-0 at DeMartin Stadium to avenge a 2021 championship match loss to the Mustangs and claim the first Finals title in school history.

“If we won, we had it ready,” Andree said. “We did win, so I hope it looks good.

“The start of our season was a little rough, we had a lot of ties, and we didn’t really know where we were going to end up. But we pulled it together and figured out what players needed to do what, and to be here is super crazy.”

Bloomfield Hills Marian’s Clair Dauer (16) and Spring Lake’s Elaina Furton work for possession.Andree assisted Aveya Patino on the game’s lone goal, and goalkeeper Jessica Stewart made four saves behind a stout Spring Lake defense to give coach Becky May her first title in her eighth season coaching at her alma mater. That it came on the campus where May played collegiately only made it more sweet.

“Extremely proud of my girls, but just proud of West Michigan, our community and how we’ve been able to step up and really make a name for ourselves in the soccer world,” May said. “I played on this field in college, so as a homecoming for me, here’s why it’s important: When I got announced the first time I started at Michigan State, they announced me from Spring Lake, Michigan, and the girl next to me said, ‘Where in the world is Spring Lake?’ No one heard of anyone outside the sub(urb)s of Detroit. Well, they’ve heard of us now. So I’m very proud.”

The 2021 championship match appearance was Spring Lake’s first, and that ended with a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Marian. Andree, Saunders and Stewart were among the players on the field Saturday who had played in that game as freshmen, and getting another shot at the Mustangs certainly added motivation.

“I feel like to replay the team that you originally lost to is always a great feeling,” Saunders said. “It’s just like a second chance. We have gotten a lot better, and I’m just glad that we made it back here. Especially for my senior year. We came out and did what every team wishes to do, is go all the way, and then we won it. I couldn’t be happier or more proud of this team.”

Saturday’s match was tightly contested, with both teams having long stretches of possession but not creating many big scoring chances.

The one that hit the back of the net started when Andree won a ball in the corner and played it across the goal. Marian keeper Dani Mertz was able to get a hand on it, but not all of it, and Patino was there to clean it up, scoring the 29th goal of her freshman season. It was also the first goal Marian (15-4-3) had allowed during the postseason.

Spring Lake players begin their celebration.“You can’t coach speed, (Patino and Andree are) born with those wheels, and all you have to do as a coach is just put them in the right spot, get them to work together, and they’re just going to be destructive from beginning to end,” May said. “So even when they don’t find the back of the net, they’re putting defenses on their heels and they have to respond to them and react to them. As a result of that, that gives us much more opportunity to possess in the middle of the field. So we put them up top, let them run havoc and then enjoy the benefits of that.”

From there, Spring Lake (17-2-5) stood tall defensively, not allowing the Mustangs to get a great chance to tie the game. With a back three of seniors Ella Rabideau and Brooke Bolthouse and junior Lauren Nicles playing in front of the experienced Stewart, May felt comfortable. Marian, meanwhile, was left frustrated as plenty of second-half possession failed to result in many opportunities. 

“They defended with five,” Marian coach Danny Price said. “I watched the Midland game where they played them in the Regional Final, and both of their outside backs were flying forward and they gave us a ton of space. In the first half, they did the same thing. After they scored their goal, they dropped their outside backs really deep and defended with five, which is what we’ve done in the postseason as well. I’ve got to give them props for that, they defended quite resolutely.”

Price was in his first season at Marian, and took over a young squad, as the Mustangs graduate a strong, but small (four) senior class.

“We’ll be back,” he said. “We’ve got a young squad, and we’ve got tons of freshmen coming in; we’ll just reload. We’ll be back here again.” 

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS (Top) Spring Lake keeper Jessica Stewart, in green, goes high to get a hand on the ball Saturday at DeMartin Stadium. (Middle) Bloomfield Hills Marian’s Clair Dauer (16) and Spring Lake’s Elaina Furton work for possession. (Below) Spring Lake players begin their celebration.