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

By Perry A. Farrell
Special for MHSAA.com

June 16, 2023

EAST LANSING – Dynasty.

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.’’

Dominant.

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.)  

Record-Setting Viney Gained Lifelong Confidence at Marine City

By Paul Costanzo
Special for MHSAA.com

July 17, 2024

Olivia Viney didn’t have to look far for inspiration while taking on the challenge of applying to veterinary school.

Made In Michigan and Michigan Army National Guard logosThe 2015 Marine City graduate and record-setting placekicker simply drew from her own experience as a high school athlete.

“It just really taught me that I could do hard things,” Viney said. “I was very involved when I was in school. I did soccer, theater, travel soccer and then football. Especially with football, I learned that if I put my mind to it, I can do it. That helped me to excel in undergrad. When it came time to get accepted to vet school, it was like, ‘This is what I have to do,’ and I did it. That was very confidence-building. It taught me that I really can do hard things.”

Viney, who graduated from Saginaw Valley State University in 2019 and Michigan State Veterinary School in 2023, is now working as an associate veterinarian at Deporre Veterinary Hospital in West Bloomfield. 

Accomplishing her goals is nothing new to Viney, and not at all a surprise to those who watched her come through the Mariners athletic program.

“She was very serious, she was focused and she was dialed in,” said Dave Frendt, who coached Viney in both football and soccer at Marine City. “She knew what she wanted to accomplish, and she set out to do that. She was a fierce competitor and very driven. She was a good leader in that way where she was kind of feisty, but the team would follow that.”

Viney was an all-state soccer player for the Mariners, leading them to a pair of District titles and a Macomb Area Conference Gold title during her four years as a varsity player. It’s the sport she grew up playing, but the one she was most known for after graduation was football. American football.

The 5-foot-1-ish center attacking midfielder found herself in the MHSAA football record book after hitting all seven of her extra point attempts in the Mariners’ 2013 Division 4 Final victory against Grand Rapids South Christian.

“I think it makes sense,” she said. “There were lots of great soccer players, even that I played with. Great players that had gone through school, so I don’t think it’s weird that people remember me for that. When I talk with people, they’ll connect the dots – ‘Oh, you played football.’

“I was more accomplished as a soccer player and had more accolades. But I’m prouder of my football accomplishments, because it was really setting a pathway for girls that wanted to get into that. It’s so much more common now, or accepted. Even though it’s been almost 11 years since we won at Ford Field, I’m so proud of high school Olivia and what she did, the courage she had. She wasn’t scared of anything.”

Viney graduated from MSU’s Veterinary School in 2023. Viney joined Marine City’s football program as a sophomore, playing on the junior varsity squad. While she was there only to kick, she was all in when it came to practicing.

“Coach (Joe) Fregetto made me do tackling drills and drills in the mud – I really did earn my spot on the team,” Viney said. “I think it was mostly because he didn’t know what to do with me, so I guess just do everything that the guys do.”

She handled varsity kicking duties the next two years, setting the school record in 2013 for most extra points made during a single season – a record that still stands. Former Mariners coach Ron Glodich said that Viney actually never missed an extra point that season, as the four failed attempts were never even kicked.

It was her performance in the Division 4 Final that gained her statewide acclaim, as she hit 7 of 7 attempts, tying a record for most extra points made in a Finals game. It stood until a pair of kickers hit eight in 2022.

One record that never will be broken, however, is Viney becoming the first female to score a point at the Finals.

“Everything was so surreal, I was so nervous,” Viney said. “One of my most vivid memories was that day, or maybe the day before, Coach Glodich said, ‘Just so you know, when you get to the field, the goal posts are two feet narrower on each side. But that doesn’t matter if you kick it in the middle.’

“We got there and watched the team before us so we could get used to it, and I remember thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, they’re so narrow.’ … Seeing myself up on the big screen was kind of almost a little embarrassing, because I knew people were talking about me being the girl. But once we were in the game, it was a lot like any other game. I was just waiting for my turn to go on the field and do my job.”

Viney later was featured in Sports Illustrated’s “Faces in the Crowd” – ironically, right below current U.S. Women’s National Team forward Mallory Pugh – but she wasn’t looked at any differently by her teammates, and she wouldn’t have wanted to be.

“That team was all about sacrifice for the team,” Frendt said. “For them to realize, ‘None of us can do what she does, so we better embrace it, because no one else can do it.’ They really made her feel like part of the team. They wanted to protect her, too. But she was tough. She wasn’t going to take anything.”

Viney went to SVSU to study biology and played for its club soccer team. During her time there, she volunteered at an animal shelter and made the decision she wanted to help animals in her career. She works in general practice at Deporre, and would eventually like to work in shelter medicine.

She and her husband Matt, who were married in May, live with their three dogs. She’s not far from home, and in the spring of 2023 she visited Frendt’s college and career readiness class to speak with students at her alma mater. Her presentation and the attention to detail and hard work she put into it, Frendt said, blew his students away. Not that it surprised him.

“That’s poured into her life after sports,” he said of her work ethic. “She just kept plugging away. She’s awesome.”

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PHOTOS (Top) Marine City’s Olivia Viney kicks at the 2013 11-Player Football Finals, also during her spring soccer season, and cares for one of her patients as an associate veterinarian. (Middle) Viney graduated from MSU’s Veterinary School in 2023. (Photos courtesy of Olivia Viney.)