Unity Finishes D3 Run With 11th Title, Without Giving up Postseason Goal

By Perry A. Farrell
Special for MHSAA.com

June 16, 2023


Hudsonville Unity Christian has been to the Division 3 Girls Soccer Finals 15 times and reached at least the Semifinals 19 seasons.

Friday’s 3-0 championship win over Grosse Ile – which was making its first Finals appearance – was the 11th for legendary coach Randy Heethuis, who also finished his 34thseason with 620 victories. Counting his tenure as the school’s boys coach, Heethuis has racked up 1,122 victories.

During this playoff run the Crusaders outscored their six opponents by a combined 35-0. For the season, the Unity Christian defense allowed just eight goals – against great competition – and never more than one in a game.

The championship was the program’s first since 2016.

“We lost in a shootout last year in the Finals (against Williamston), and the year before we lost in the Semifinals, so it has been a while,’’ said Heethuis, recalling the 3-2 back-and-forth loss to the Hornets a year ago.

“We had Brianna (Rose), a starting center back, and she’s kind of the anchor of the defense. Morgan’s (Scholten) is a three-year starter in goal. The two outside backs, Ella Bosscher and Kirstin Dekock … they were fantastic. They just came on so strong as the year went on. They continued to beat people to the ball and kept the ball out of our end.

“That was a very defensive-mind Grosse Ile team, but we didn’t give them any looks.’’


Officially Unity Christian’s winning goal was scored by junior forward Stella DeSmit, who also chipped in an assist.

Jessie Postma (9) sets up for a free kick.“It’s just great. Not everyone gets to do this,’’ said DeSmit. “It’s kind of a once-in-a-lifetime. It’s the 11th for the program, but it’s the first for us. It has been a long drought. We all work hard, but I don’t think our defense gets enough credit for how much they do for us. They carry us back there. Working through our defense and making passes up to our forwards. It’s just not the forwards – it’s our whole team.

With a lineup sprinkled with Division I and II college talent, the Crusaders improved to 21-1-2 with the win. Grosse Ile finished 17-3-4.

Unity Christian dominated play in the early going, but Cailey O’Farrell was great in goal for Grosse Ile, keeping the Crusaders off the scoreboard nearly the entire first half. Her 11 saves for the game included stops with her face and stomach and made the MHSAA record book list for the most in a championship game.

Unity Christian finally broke through with two minutes, 54 seconds left in the first half on DeSmit’s goal off an assist from Emily Timmer.

The Crusaders made it 2-0 when Rose, a senior, headed in a corner kick at the 30:13 mark.

Senior forward Jenna Schreiber scored at the 24:42 mark off an assist from DeSmit to give Unity a commanding 3-0 lead.

“We just keep talking together and working together,’’ said Scholten. “It comes down to communication. We beat the other team to the ball. The first goal takes the pressure off, but we keep working towards the next goal. The depth of our team allows us to keep coming and wear the other team down.’’

Click for the full summary.

PHOTOS (Top) Hudsonville Unity Christian’s Emily Timmer (20) controls possession Friday, with Grosse Ile’s Ella Gatti defending. (Middle) Jessie Postma (9) sets up for a free kick. (Photos by Adam Sheehan/Hockey Weekly Action Photos.)  

Be the Referee: Feet Rule on Soccer Throw-In

By Paige Winne
MHSAA Marketing & Social Media Coordinator

September 13, 2023

Be The Referee is a series of short messages designed to help educate people on the rules of different sports, to help them better understand the art of officiating, and to recruit officials.

Below is this week's segment – Feet Rule on Soccer Throw-In - Listen

In basketball, when a player is inbounding the ball, his or her feet have to be behind the line when passing the ball. Their feet can’t be touching the line.

But in soccer, a player just has to be on the line to complete a throw-in – even if their heels are both barely touching the line and the majority of their body is in the field of play.

It is considered a legal soccer throw-in if any part of both feet is either touching the line or behind the line, including if the player does a somersault or front-flip style throw-in. As long as they flip and land with both feet on or behind the line and throw the ball – it’s a legal throw-in.

Previous Editions

Sept. 6: Volleyball Jewelry - Listen
Aug. 30: Football Rules Similarities - Listen
Aug. 23: Football Rules Differences - Listen