Team of the Month: Plainwell Girls Soccer
By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor
May 12, 2022
The Plainwell girls soccer team has given up one more goal this season than the number of seniors on the varsity roster.
That total of one goal is especially impressive given the team’s zero seniors as it continues to stand among the state’s elite in Division 2 with District play set to begin in two weeks.
The MHSAA/Applebee’s “Team of the Month” for April opened the season with seven straight shutouts during that month and extended the streak to 10 into the first week of May before finally surrendering a goal Monday against Dowagiac. But the Trojans came back with another shutout of Edwardsburg on Wednesday, bringing the total to 11 scoreless results during a 12-0 start for a team with seven juniors, eight sophomores, three freshmen and no one graduating this spring.
The majority of the lineup returned from last season’s 13-3-1 team that reached the District Final before falling in overtime. But factor this as well into the impressive start: The first six shutouts came with junior starting keeper Eliza Harris out and sophomore Evelyn Alward taking her place as the last line of defense.
This year’s team passed last year’s shutout total of eight nearly two weeks ago.
“We lost three seniors last year, but the girls stepped up in those spots,” Plainwell coach Garry Snyder said. “I think it’s the combination of a little bit more maturity, playing together, better team chemistry this year than last year. It’s something we’ve been working on and still continue to work on.”
Harris has been back in net since the last game in April, and a strong group in front of her limits opponents’ opportunities with junior Renae Jaeger at center back and juniors Gaby Zugel and Berlynn Conley flanking her. Junior Catey Engel and sophomore Brooklyn Timpe also are significant contributors from the defensive midfield spots, and sophomore Kailah Newcomb dips back to help as well.
Newcomb, a midfielder who Snyder notes for her exceptional vision on the field, leads the team with 14 goals and is tied with a team-best six assists. Sophomore forward Kayla Baar joined her as a standout freshman in 2021 and has 12 goals and five assists utilizing speed Snyder said is unmatched.
Zugel, who can play all over the pitch, has added nine goals, with Timpe and junior forward Nikki Faupel sending in six apiece. Faupel, who moved up front from outside mid this season, also shares the team lead with six assists.
Among Plainwell’s wins was a 1-0 shutout of Grand Rapids South Christian (13-2), which is ranked No. 3 in Division 3. The Trojans also have wins over three Division 1 opponents, and with one more victory can guarantee a share of a repeat Wolverine Conference title.
Then comes the postseason. Plainwell today would be the top seed of a daunting District that includes three one-loss teams. District pairings will be posted Sunday morning.
“I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do,” Snyder said. “(We need to) make sure we take care of business and stay healthy. That’s the key; we’ve had a number of health issues, banged up here and there. (But) someone else is always willing to step up and get the job done.”
Past Teams of the Month, 2021-22
March: West Bloomfield girls basketball - Read
February: Cadillac girls skiing - Read
January: Hartland hockey - Read
December: Midland Dow girls basketball - Read
November: Reese girls volleyball - Read
October: Birmingham Groves boys tennis - Read
Performance of the Week: Northville's Helena McLellan
June 2, 2023
Helena McLellan ♦ Northville
Junior ♦ Soccer
McLellan, a standout midfielder, scored twice in Northville's 3-0 win over Belleville on May 22 to clinch the overall Kensington Lakes Activities Association championship. The Mustangs earned the opportunity to play in that game by claiming the KLAA West title with an 11-0-3 record, and they're 15-0-4 heading into Saturday's Division 1 District Final against Livonia Stevenson.
An accomplished club soccer player, McLellan chose to compete for her high school team this spring for the first time and helped Northville to a No. 2 ranking at the end of the regular season after the Mustangs finished Division 1 runner-up a year ago. Belleville was ranked No. 8 in the final coaches association poll, and McLellan followed up her goals against the Tigers with another in Northville's 3-1 District Semifinal win over Farmington Hills Mercy on Wednesday.
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May 25: Mitchel Luck, Linden lacrosse - Report
May 18: Ahava Le Febre, Holland tennis - Report
May 11: Gracie Maloney, Macomb Dakota softball - Report
May 4: Braxton Brann, Ann Arbor Huron track & field - Report
April 27: Owen Patton, Vestaburg track & field - Report
April 20: Lilly Damm, Millington softball - Report
April 13: Larissa Huffman, Mackinaw City track & field - Report
April 6: Darius Acuff, Detroit Cass Tech basketball - Report
March 23: Regan Finkbeiner, Hemlock basketball - Report
March 16: Alaina Yaney, Grand Ledge gymnastics - Report
March 9: Braeden Davis, Dundee wrestling - Report
March 2: Gabriel Sanchez-Burks, Ann Arbor Pioneer swimming - Report
Feb. 23: Grace Sobczak, Marquette swimming - Report
Feb. 16: Kaitlynn Demers, Gibraltar Carlson competitive cheer - Report
Feb. 9: Indya Davis, West Bloomfield basketball - Report
Feb. 2: Braydon Sorenson, Onekama skiing - Report
Jan. 26: Shayna Hruska, Iron Mountain wrestling - Report
Jan. 19: Kayla Tafanelli, Warren Woods-Tower bowling - Report
Dec. 20: Brenden Paden, Riverview Gabriel Richard hockey - Report
Dec. 16: Tuff Scott, Holton bowling - Report
Dec. 9: Macey Fegan, Standish-Sterling basketball - Report
Dec. 2: Treyton Siegert, Gladwin football - Report
Nov. 24: Lily Witte, Dexter diving - Report
Nov. 17: Navea Gauthier, Shelby volleyball - Report
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Nov. 3: Thomas Westphal, New Baltimore Anchor Bay cross country - Report
Oct. 27: Justin Wickey, Colon football - Report
Oct. 20: Owen DeMuth, Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood tennis - Report
Oct. 13: Mia Melendez, Ann Arbor Greenhills golf - Report
Oct. 6: Shawn Foster, Grand Ledge football - Report
Sept. 30: Hannah Smith, Temperance Bedford swimming - Report
Sept. 22: Helen Sachs, Holland West Ottawa cross country - Report
Sept. 15: Nina Horning, Lake Orion volleyball - Report
Sept 8: Arturo Romero, Muskegon Oakridge soccer - Report
Sept. 1: Austin King, Midland Dow tennis - Report
Aug. 25: Olivia Hemmila, Troy Athens golf - Report
PHOTO Northville's Helena McLellan steps into a kick during a May 9 draw with Hartland. (Photo by Chris Mudd/National Photo Scout.)