Undefeated Saline Claims 1st Finals Win

June 13, 2015

By Dan Stickradt
Second Half editor

EAST LANSING — Saline helped redefine the term “team soccer” this season. 

The Hornets put together one of the most impressive seasons in Class A/Division 1 history, cultivated by a 4-0 blanking of Grand Blanc in the Division 1 Final on Saturday at Michigan State University’s DeMartin Stadium. 

Saline finished this spring with a brilliant 0.16 goals-against-average over 25 games with 22 shutouts, the most in Class A/Division 1 history and third-most overall on the MHSAA record list. Hudsonville Unity Christian’s 24 shutouts in 27 games during 2011 is the all-time best.

“Our chemistry is amazing,” said Saline senior goalkeeper Sophia Sweier, a second-team all-state keeper last season and one of Michigan’s top net minders this season. “A lot of us have been playing together for years with (club and high school) and that makes a difference. We are so close.”

The championship was Saline’s first in girls soccer.

“I think it was really at the end of last season when we thought that this could be a special season for us,” said Saline coach Dana Restrick, whose team broke several team and individual school records this spring. “Last year we lost to a nearly-unbeatable team in Northville (in the Regional Final). We played really well in that loss. We had a lot of players coming back this season, and I think that we really got a taste of what it takes to get to that next level.

“A lot of my seniors have played together since they were 7 or something,” continued Restrick. “The chemistry is definitely there. We coach them very specifically on what to do at all times. These girls are so coachable. They take everything that we say and do what we coach them to do in different scenarios. This is something that we have been building for the last couple of years. That we came together and played as a team is what helped us achieve the goal of being state champions.”

Unbeaten Saline, which finished the campaign 22-0-3 and entered the postseason ranked sixth, opened the scoring with 32:41 left in the first half. Senior Danielle Rathfon’s shot rang off the crossbar and goal post and senior Molly O’Sullivan was there to pounce on the rebound from close range. 

The Hornets, making their first-ever appearance in an MHSAA Final, pushed the advantage to 2-0 with 30:18 still left in the opening half when junior Allison Luurtsema’s long shot from near the touch line sailed above traffic and deflected off the fingertips of Grand Blanc goalkeeper Amy Puidokas and into the far corner of the goal. 

Saline, which outshot Grand Blanc 8-5 over the first 40 minutes, cashed in again with 23:22 remaining in the first half when senior Taylor Mulder redirected a cross from senior Amanda Zylsra and tucked the ball home from three yards out. 

Grand Blanc put plenty of pressure on Saline’s bend-but-don’t-break defense in the second half, posting a 6-4 shots edge. But to no avail.

Saline capped the scoring late in the contest when Mulder scored her 43rd goal of the season, a single-season school record, with 1:28 remaining in the contest.

Saline closed its run with nine straight shutouts, including seven during the postseason. The last team to score on the Hornets was Ann Arbor Skyline (in a 5-1 win) in the third-to-last game of the regular season. Saline also gave up a goal to Skyline in mid-April and two goals to Brighton in early April. 

“To go down 2-0 was tough. I think the third goal was what really broke our back,” conceded veteran Grand Blanc coach Greg Kehler. “That team gave up only four goals all season, so that was a tough wall to climb. I thought we could put pressure on them and possibly score. But they are a great defensive team. Dana Restrick’s team is great — they are as good as advertised. They are very good in the back, very organized, they possess well and they have a lot of players who can finish. 

“Saline defines the principals of defending,” noted Kehler. “They got it all. If they weren’t pressuring the ball, they had someone nearby, a cover defender back there to balance the field for them. That’s an experienced team, very well coached. They are very good. No shame losing to that team.”

The Hornets outscored the opposition 104-4 this season, and the four goals against is tied for third fewest allowed in a single season in MHSAA history. Record-holder Livonia Stevenson gave up one goal during the 1997 campaign en route to the Class A championship.

Defensively, Saline held Grand Blanc’s Annie Walker, one of the frontrunners for Miss Soccer, in check. The Hornets’ organized defensive schemes didn’t allow the Bobcats much breathing room all afternoon, constantly covering to quickly plug holes and frustrate Grand Blanc’s attack.

Saline outshot Grand Blanc 12-10 and was opportunistic by finishing four of the six shots on target.

“Annie Walker is an amazing player, and we knew we had to keep someone near her at all times,” Restrick said. “She’s extremely dangerous. And I think that goes back to our defense, always covering for one another. We always make sure that we don’t give the opposing team much space. And it’s not like we outshot them by much. We were fortunate enough to be able to finish (our chances). We have a lot of girls that can score.”

Click for the box score.

PHOTOS: (Top) Saline players rush the field to celebrate with teammates their first MHSAA girls soccer title. (Middle) Saline’s Taylor Mulder (1) works to stay ahead of Grand Blanc’s Alexiss Trudeau.

McBain Northern Michigan Christian's VanNoord Building on Career Excellence

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor

May 13, 2024

Jada VanNoord entered her senior season this spring on the MHSAA girls soccer career goal list with 108 over her first three seasons at McBain Northern Michigan Christian, and after scoring 40 with 63 total points in 2023.

She also was just shy of making the career points list after making the single-season list as a sophomore with 52 in 2022.

VanNoord has signed to continue her career at Cornerstone University.

See below for more recent additions to the girls soccer record book, and click the heading to see the record book in full.  

Girls Soccer

Sophomore Macy Freeman became the first from Otisville LakeVille Memorial to be listed in the girls soccer record book when she scored all eight goals in her team’s win over Flint Carman-Ainsworth on April 29, 2022, and she was added for the second-highest scoring game in history with 10 goals last May 12 against Marlette. Freeman also was added for 43 goals total as a sophomore and 39 as a junior, and she entered this season on the career goals list as well with 81.

Brighton Charyl Stockwell’s Cassie Hall earned a pair of record book entries for her offensive performance as a junior in 2022. She made the single-season goals list with 55 and single-season points list with 60.

Although her 224 saves as a senior in 2022 fell just shy of making the single-season list, Parchment goalkeeper Gabrielle Novak finished her career with 713 over three seasons and 51 games – with 2020 canceled because of COVID-19. She was joined that spring by senior Kasey Leckie, who made the single-season goals list with 32.

Grace Hewitt became the first West Michigan Aviation Academy player to be listed for career goals, as she tallied 75 from 2019-22 (with 2020 canceled). She also was added for 32 as a senior.

Remus Chippewa Hills’ Karley Densmore made 36 saves against Big Rapids on April 25, 2022, tied for fifth-most in one match, and her 292 over 17 games for the season rank third. Additionally, teammate Hayley Gomber was added for five assists in a game against Mason County Central on April 7, 2022. Both were juniors.

Kelila Rustin made the single-season saves list in 2022 with 251 over 17 games. She was a sophomore at Ionia.

Allison Johnson earned Howard City Tri County’s first girls soccer record book entry in 2021, scoring 30 goals over 19 games. She graduated in 2023.

Schoolcraft’s Hannah Thompson totaled 18 record book entries over three varsity seasons, despite missing her sophomore year which was canceled due to COVID-19. The 2022 graduate five times had a single-game high of eight goals, and as a senior she bested her state record for points with 99 – despite falling just a few goals short of her state record in that category, with a second-place 83. She finished with 130 goals, second all-time, over a combined 54 games, and a fifth-highest 240 points. She’s playing at Eastern Michigan.

Sterling Heights 2023 graduate Mikalah Lewis earned a pair of record book entries over her final two seasons. The first was for 34 goals as a junior in 2022, and she tied for third-most assists in a game on April 10 of last season with six against Center Line.

Lily Usher capped her three-year varsity career at Owosso last spring with 60 more saves than anyone over a career in MHSAA history. She tops that list with 773 over 49 games, with her 268 as a junior in 2022 added as well – and that season she also tied her single-game high with 35.

Layne Palmer had one of the busiest goalkeeping nights in MHSAA history April 21, 2023, when she saved 43 shots from Utica Ford during a 6-0 loss. The Port Huron senior’s saves remain tied for third-most for one game.

Grace Graham capped her Laingsburg career in 2021 by leading the Wolfpack to its first Regional Final appearance – and made the record book for 39 goals and also 51 total points.

Cheboygan’s Kenzie Burt is playing college basketball at Aquinas College, but she left her mark on her high school soccer program as a senior in 2023. Burt made the record book with 33 goals and 53 points total.

Jessica Peters earned Dryden’s first girls soccer entry since 2012 with 48 goals as a senior in 2023, over 19 games. She’s continuing at St. Clair County Community College.

Lydia Kruis and Litzy Ramirez capped their three-season Comstock varsity careers last year with performances among the best all-time in the sport. Among 10 record book entries, Kruis was added for 74 goals (third all-time) and 83 points (sixth) as a senior and 158 goals for her career (ninth). Her eight goals last May 17 against Buchanan tied for fourth-most in one game. Ramirez graduated with seven record book listings, with her six assists against Buchanan that game tied for third-most with her 47 for the season setting the MHSAA record. Her 86 career assists tied for ninth.

Jaidyn Veldhouse led Grandville Calvin Christian to another successful run last spring. A senior now, she made record lists with 37 goals and 52 points as the Squires finished 17-1-3. She will continue at Saginaw Valley State.

Isabella Pool’s junior season last spring included a highlight against Marshall. Although her Coldwater team took a 5-0 loss, Pool saved 39 shots – fifth-most for one match in MHSAA history.

Lutheran Westland added its second athlete to this record book, and first since 2005, as Madilyn Webb finished her three-season varsity career with 48 goals and 53 points last spring and 105 goals over her three seasons. She also scored 33 goals as a junior and seven in one game against Brighton Charyl Stockwell Academy. She’s continuing at Concordia-Ann Arbor.

PHOTO McBain Northern Michigan Christian's Jada VanNoord (20) steps into a kick during a May 1 game against Clare. (Photo courtesy of the Cadillac News.)