msn magazine issue 1

Page 1




Bishop Foley Maniaci steps down after six seasons


MSN to partner with the MSYSA for future broadcasts


Youth Movement: Midland Dow playing everything like a top15 program


Top 50 high school girls soccer teams

09 11 13 15 38


St Mary’s enjoying climb up the soccer charts

From the Director

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PREPBOYSSOCCER BishopFoleyManiacisteps downaftersixseasons

“We made a lot of history this past season. We also took back the rivalry with (Royal Oak) Shrine the last two seasons beating them four out of six times and they have not beaten Shrine in a while before (the recent run),” noted Maniaci.

MADISON HEIGHTS, Mich – Nino Maniaci arrived at Madison Heights Bishop Foley a few years ago where the Ventures were a middle of the road program

Now he departs Bishop Foley’s boys soccer program in as good of shape as it has been since the late 1990s

Maniaci announced Monday night he was stepping down from the Ventures storied program for personal reasons He spent six seasons at the helm and guided the program to numerous championships along the way

“On Monday I informed the boys I would be stepping aside at Bishop Foley,” said Maniaci in a statement “I have some opportunities I will be pursuing closer to home I have not made my final decision on my next move but that will come in time

“I had a good six-year run at Bishop Foley The last three years were some of the best (teams) Foley has had in a long time,” continued Maniaci “We won three districts in a row, made it to the regional finals in 2022 and topped it off with a state finals appearance in the fall of 2023 We won a division this past year and went to the CHSL (Cardinal Tournament) final this past fall as well ”

This past season Maniaci led the Ventures to an 18-4-1 overall record and one of its best seasons since being a state powerhouse back in the 1980s and 1990s Under his direction, Foley won the Catholic High School League Intersectional-2 Division and reached the CHSL Cardinal Tournament finals before falling to state-ranked Grosse Pointe Woods UniversityLiggett (4-1)

The Ventures, who captured three straight district championships from 2021-2023, avenged that defeat in the Division 4 regional finals with a 1-0 shootout win over Liggett

“We made a lot of history this past season We also took back the rivalry with (Royal Oak) Shrine the last two seasons beating them four out of six times and they have not beaten Shrine in a while before (the recent run),” noted Maniaci

Maniaci departs with a 68-41-11 record over six seasons at Foley His final team recorded 10 shutouts and outscored the opposition 70-29 enroute to the state finals appearance The Ventures outscored six postseason opponents 15-9 in the tournament run with two shutouts and featured many ranked opponents

The run ended with a 3-0 loss to defending champion Muskegon Western Michigan Christian (3-0) in the D-4 finals at Grand Ledge High School This was Bishop foley’s first appearance in a state title game since winning a Division 3 state crown in 1997

“All of this has not been possible without the boys obviously,” added Maniaci “The buy-in and the work ethic from everyone that has entered the program was incredible and I was honored and blessed to play a small part of that success

“When I took over the program six years ago the main goal was to put Bishop Foley back on the soccer map where it belongs and we definitely did that ”

Before arriving at Bishop Foley, Maniaci spent eight seasons (2010-2017) as an assistant coach at St Clair Shores Lakeview He also coached previously in the club circuit with the Eastside FC and St Clair Shores Select

Bishop Foley will begin a search for a candidates immediately In 2023, Bishop Foley as a seniorand freshman-heavy team that at times started nine seniors


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YOUTHSOCCER:MSNto partnerwiththeMSYSA forfuturebroadcasts.

“We look forward to working with MSN to enhance our events experiences throughout Michigan,” said Tom Faro, MSYSA Executive Director “Our collaborative efforts will increase the visibility and excitement that surrounds our great sport.”

SHELBY TWP , Mich – Another partnership is coming to a soccer field near you

The Michigan Soccer Network will begin a partnership with the Plymouth-based Michigan State Youth Soccer Association – the state’s governing body for various levels of club and youth soccer – to be the official broadcast partner for its MSYSA State Cup tournaments beginning later this year

This is the latest partnership for the Premier Media Group and its flagship company Michigan Soccer Network will provide to the Michigan soccer community under its growing umbrella that aims to be a centralized hub for Michigan soccer-related news information, live-game broadcasts, in-studio shows, onlocation shows, recruiting and much more

The MSN news department will also compile newsworthy feature stories, enterprise pieces and game-day and tournament stories and recaps about players, teams, coaches, officials and administrators of those involved with the MSYSA and its active club members organizations entering its various MSYSA State Cup tournaments The MSN news department will also shine the spotlight on Michigan teams winning Midwest titles or Michigan clubs that participate in the national level tournaments

Beginning in the spring of 2024, the Michigan Soccer Network will begin to conduct pretournament shows and previews, 28 game-day broadcasts, and postgame shows with player and coaches interviews as well as game and tournament recaps for its State Cup tournaments

“We look forward to working with MSN to enhance our events experiences throughout Michigan,” said Tom Faro, MSYSA Executive Director “Our collaborative efforts will increase the visibility and excitement that surrounds our great sport ”

The MSYSA Boys State Cup takes place each spring in late May and early June with its state quarterfinals, state semifinals and state championships, while the MSYSA Girls State Cup takes place each fall during October

Partnering with MSN will help bring several levels of club soccer and the MSYSA overall to unprecedented coverage in the future

“MSYSA has been impressed with the soccer coverage that MSN has provided across the state and we are excited to partner with them to help shine a spotlight on the exciting moments our youth athletes create,” said MSYSA Director of Operations/Events Ryan Theisen

The MSYSA State Cup finals are generally played each year at two locations in Michigan – the Brighton Legacy Center (9299 Goble Drive, Brighton, Michigan, 48116) and the Saginaw Township Soccer Complex (3575 McCarty Rd, Saginaw, Michigan, 48603) The MSYSA State Cup is the first level of competition for two U S Youth Soccer state tournaments in Michigan

The top division of the Michigan State Cup, the Elite Division, is intended for teams that participate in any multi-state regional or national club leagues (Elite-64, NLC, and others) and some MSPSP Premier I teams Other club teams may be considered to fill open spots in brackets There are seven age groups included with the U13, U14, U15, U16, U17, U18 and U19 brackets scheduled for each year The U13 through U19 teams in the Elite Division will be competing to earn spots at the U S Youth Soccer Midwest Regional Championships and potentially U S Y S National Championships


MidlandDowplayingeverything likeatop-15program

SHMIDLAND, Mich – If you asked Spencer Sandow back in March how well his team would figure this season, he wasn’t sure if he could give you an answer or at least a clear-cut picture

As it turns out Midland Dow is going to be good again this season The numbers support that

Through April 30, the Chargers are well inside the top15 of the Michigan High School Soccer Coaches Association Division 1 state rankings, coming in Sunday night at the No 8 position That’s a six-position climb from the previous week’s No 14 slot

“I honestly didn’t know what to think I knew we graduated a solid group and we are a lot younger girls this year with several sophomores and freshmen But do you know what? Some of these freshmen have been some of our best players so far,” noted Sandow “We have four freshmen and two are playing a ton of minutes

“You never know how well freshmen will play at the varsity level, and you never know how some of the other newcomers can make the jump up from juniorvarsity to varsity and how well they will play,” added Sandow “A lot of these younger girls have (blended in nicely) and we are playing some good soccer right now If you asked me before the beginning of the season, I wouldn’t have necessarily expected this because we are very young ” An impressive win came Friday at home, as Midland Dow tripped up previous Division 1 top-five Hartland – another one of the top teams in the state enjoying a great start to the 2024 campaign – by a 4-2 count in a non-league contest

Hartland, which dropped from fourth to ninth in the polls Sunday night, leads the pack in the ever-tough Kensington Lakes Activities Association-West Division Midland Dow is the defending Saginaw Valley League champion and expected to be one of the top teams in that league despite having a young roster

Against Hartland, the Chargers trailed 2-1 at the half before Midland Dow outscored the Eagles 3-0 in the second half

Allison Stockton scored twice and Mallory Brandt added a goal in the second half, as Dow charged back to steal the non-league win at home Rachel Leuter scored off an assist from Ivy Beall in the first half to give the Chargers an early 1-0 lead Hartland responded with goals from Katie Swirczek and Josie Cheyne that gave the Eagles their 2-1 advantage at the break

Following Monday’s 8-0 blanking of Bay City Central, the Chargers now have posted five shutouts and outscored their opposition 42-8 Dow is now 8-0-2 overall through April 29 Multiple different players got into the act of recording goals and assists in this win over Bay City Central as Midland Dow moved one game ahead of Flint Powers Catholic (No 2 in Division 3) in the SVL standings

The Chargers stand at 8-0-2 overall and 6-0-1 in conference play Flint Powers (8-0-2, 5-0-1), Bay City Western (9-2-1, 4-1-1), Midland (7-1-2, 3-1-1), Davison (6-3-0, 4-2-0) and Grand Blanc (5-3-1, 4-2-0) follow close behind in what is now a six-team race mathematically

Stockton, a freshman forward, has made a great debut with the Chargers and is the team’s leading goal scorer and top five in assists Senior Rachel Leuter (CM/F), Aubree Bills, another freshman forward/midfielder, and sophomore Melanie Kolnitys (F/M) follow in the stats leaders for goals, assists and points

Seniors Sarah Sharpe (CB) and Sydney Lambert (OB/OM/F), Beall, a junior center midfielder, and Kolnitys, a sophomore midfielder, are returning starters Kolnitys (12 goals, eight assists last season) was an All-SVL First Team selection last year as a freshmen, while Lambert was tabbed All-SVL Honorable Mention

Seniors Carley Gatrell (OB/M), Riley Schikorra (M/F) and Rachel Leuter along with sophomore Mallory Brandt (CM) came off the bench last season but have earned significantly more playing time this season

Stockton (F), Bills (CM) and fellow freshmen Lauren Schikorra (CM) and Kaitlyn Oikarinen (OB/CB) have been more than pleasant surprises this season and amongst the Chargers’ better players Sophomore Lauren Leuter (F/M), junior Jessica Neal (CB) and senior Avery Lehman (G) are all amongst the top newcomers

Lehman is a workaholic between the pipes, making the jump from junior-varsity to varsity starter in goal and playing solid, according to Sandow

“Avery has come a long ways and I’m pleased with how she is playing in her first season as a starter,” praised Sandow “She doesn’t play club soccer but has worked so hard in the last year and she earned that spot as one of our goalkeepers She has been solid all season ”

Dow controls its own destiny if it wins out in terms of repeating as the Saginaw Valley League champion

“It’s a tight race and the league is a lot deeper than it was a few years ago,” reminded Sandow “It used to be us, or Grand Blanc or Midland or maybe even (Flint) Powers Now Davison has come on strong the last few years and so has Bay City Western Mt Pleasant was really competitive last year There’ so many good teams in the league now and it makes for a lot of very close games We hope to be there at the top in terms of the league at the end of the season and hopefully we can make a little bit of the run in districts Last year we lost in the district finals


Daily News Dow's Emily Lacher and Midland's Grace Sczepanski fight for possession during their game Monday, May 9, 2022 at H H Dow High School


Communications Specialist | Web And Content Editor | Director of News | Social Media Director | Interns and Freelance Coordinator

E: stickradt@michigansoccernetwork com

(Michigan Soccer Network Communications Specialist / Web and Content Editor / Director of News Dan Stickradt compiles team capsules for over 460 girls soccer programs statewide Email pertinent information to stickradt@michigansoccernetwork com Follow on Twitter @msn stickradt, @LocalSportsFans, or @MiSoccerNetwork and on numerous social media platforms.


Last year started out with a disaster, as the Martians were zapped in the first five games of the season and outscored 21-0 in that stretch – four of those losses were to Division 1 programs. But then it clicked, as Goodrich outscored the opposition 62-34 with 10 shutouts on the entire season, and the Martians only conceded 14 goals the rest of the season Goodrich captured just their second district title in 20 years last June before bowing out in the regional semifinals to St Clair An experienced bunch, Goodrich has started this season 4-2-0 with three shutouts and a 19-7 scoring edge More importantly, the Martians defeated defending Flint Metro League champion Linden (60), a team that reached the Division 2 Final Four last year, and have already defeated Lake Fenton and Flushing All three of those schools make up the rest of the top tier teams in the 12-school FML That puts this team into the driver’s seat Senior Clare Kowalczyk (D, All-State Second Team) has signed with NCAA Division II Michigan Tech University, while fellow seniors Izzy Bartlett (G, signed with NAIA Aquinas College) and McKenna Stockwell (D), juniors Addyson West (F/M), Lucy Rafferty (CM), Ana Perry (F) and Ella Place (F) and sophomores Kaylee Eichoff (CB) and Maggie Francis (F/M) all started last season. There are five other returnees while three freshmen, Cate Abraham (M), Baylor Lauinger (M) and Olivia Millerd (M/F), have already been key factors this season.




After finishing as the runner-up to Grand Rapids South Christian in the Ottawa Kent Conference Gold Division last year, Thornapple-Kellogg captured a Division 2 district championship Oddly not being ranked in the preseason, the Trojans broke into the top 15 after a 3-0-0 start and welcome back almost its entire roster after graduating just two players. Senior Emma Schut (M/F, All-State Second Team) has signed with NCAA Division I Southern Indiana University and leads a potent offensive machine. Senior Holly Velting (F, All-State Honorable Mention), juniors Maddie Chivis (F/M, All-League), and Emma Geukes (D, All-League Honorable Mention) and sophomore Paige Abshagen (F/M, All-League Honorable Mention) all earned various postseason honors last year. Sophomores Ella Fisher (D), McKenna Hoebeke (G), Tealy Cross (F/M) and Natalie Borrink (D) are also returning starters


ST. JOSEPH (10-4-3):

With 13 players back, including seven starters, the Bears have plenty of experience on their side as they try to stay in the top half of a deep SWMAC. What makes them even stronger is the arrival of senior Ella Dykstra (F/M), a former ODP national team player who spent the last three years playing with Midwest United on the ECNL circuit. She’s signed with NCAA Division I University of Kentucky and gives St. Joseph a high-level player on the attack. Seniors Clara Berry (G, All-League), Jade Murdoch (M, All-League), Meghan Meier (M), Anna Humes (M) and Keira Page-Wood (F), junior Charly Shell (D) and sophomore Beatrice Lapekas (M) are the returning starters Juniors Megan Painter (M) and Ava Rommel (D), sophomores Sally Shelby (F), Jillian Conybeare (D) and Charlotte Steel (D) and senior Peyton Porter (M/F) also return


After finishing third in the Saginaw Valley League last year, the Chargers made another run to the Division 3 Final Four – their 18th appearance in the state semifinals. Senior Grace Cameron (D, All-State First Team) has signed with NCAA Division I Central Michigan University Seniors Abby Jones (M, All-State Second Team), Maria Thompson (G, All-State Second Team) and Carolyn Haas (F, All-State Third Team) and sophomore Danielle Bobowski (D/F, AllState Honorable Mention) all return after receiving plenty of postseason accolades last year Seniors Brianna Murphy (D) and Peyton Staley (F) and juniors Lexis Affrica (M/F), Grace Murphy (M), Gabriella Peel (D/M) all played a ton during last year’s stellar season and postseason run




The Trojans outscored the opposition 58-11 with 11 shutouts last season enroute to Downriver League and Division 2 district finals and advanced to the regional finals Trenton’s run ended in a 1-0 loss to eventual state champion Grosse Pointe North. Does Trenton have enough to reach the school’s fourth Final Four in 2024? This is one of Trenton’s more talented teams which is off to a 6-2-0 start. Senior Claire Gonyea (F/M, All-State First Team) has signed with NCAA Division I Eastern Michigan and is one of several key weapons on this team. Senior goalkeeper Leila Gorno (All-State Honorable Mention) is a solid backstop with seniors Miya Severino (D) and Kira Johnson (M) helping out and providing leadership. Junior Chloe Wishart (M/F) is seeing her stock rise rapidly after missing last year with an ACL injury, while juniors Kate Haveman (M/D, All-State Honorable Mention) and Lilly Mulford (D) and sophomores Julia Mach (M) and Audrey Gerou (D) are also returning starters and playing solid soccer Freshmen Elle Dolson (D) and Maddie Reamer (M/F) have contributed

GOODRICH (13-7-1): #50


Even in somewhat of a down year compared to the last two decades, DeWitt still managed to win 13 games, earn a D-2 district championship and finish second in the CAAC-Blue Division last year The Panthers’ run ended in the regional semifinals to eventual state semifinalist Linden (2-1). There are eight returning starters, led by junior goalkeeper Madison McDonald (All-State Honorable Mention) and sophomore center back Carly Dennis (All-State Honorable Mention). Sophomores Ava Mardigan (F) and Julia Fowler (D), juniors Nicole O’Neal (M), Ava Jacobsen (M) and Cate Piesko (M) and senior Norah Lutz (D) also return. Four freshmen are also gaining minutes – Katelyn Jameson (M), Sailor Stevens (M/F), Ava Hanus (D) and Avery Walthorn (D) along with several other players that came off the bench last year

MASON (13-5-1):

The Bulldogs watched their boys soccer team make a run last fall to the Division 2 state runner-up trophy and the Mason girls soccer team has high expectations of going after its second straight CAAC-Red title and making a run as well Seniors Mya Carnevale (M), Allie Wheeler (D), Audrey Walkington (G)) and Reegyn Cady (M) and juniors Sarah Pluff (D/M), Ava Rust (D) and McKenzie Lockwood (F) lead the way Sophomore Lexi Haynie (M) also returns, while freshman Brenna Budzynski (M) and senior newcomers Lily Graham (D) and Bailey Stewart (F) should also help the cause. The Bulldogs started the year in the top 15 of Division 2 and with a 3-1-1 record, a 9-2 scoring edge and three shutouts.


PINCKNEY (15-2-1):

Winners of four straight Southeastern Conference-White Division titles, Pinckney broke through with its first-ever district title last season and advanced to the D-2 regional finals That memorable campaign saw the Pirates outscore their opposition 57-16 with 11 clean sheets They have followed that up with a 3-1-1 mark to open the 2024 campaign which includes a stellar 26-3 scoring edge and two shutouts Senior Peyton DeGrandchamp (All-State Second Team) is one of Michigan’s top keepers and setting school records on a consistent basis Seniors Zaryah Griffin (M, AllState Honorable Mention), Valerie Graves (D/M), Alex Hanselmen (D), Alexis Altizer (D/M) and Ella Swiderski (M/F) are part of a stellar class who have laid the foundations for future teams to model. Sophomore Julie Garcia (D/M) and junior Mackenna Prince (M/D) are also returning starters. Oddly, the Pirates were not ranked in D-2 to open the campaign.


After winning the D-3 crown in 2021, DCD took a couple of years rebuilding to come back strong this season. Although the Yellowjackets won just five games last year, they did post five shutouts and held even with 29 goals and 29 goals against with a lot of close results. This year Country Day is 2-1-2 with four shutouts already and have only conceded two goals to Rochester Adams in the opener and are ranked in the top five in D-3 Three All-State Honorable Mention players return, led by senior Regan Harkins (F/M), sophomore Jenna Shaban (D/M) and junior Mercedes Arinez (G) Seniors Macy Riutta (F), Alyssa Bromley (D), Riley Lockhart (M), sophomore Isabella Schmizzi (M/D) and junior Naima Safiedine (M/D) are also key players There are five sophomores and six freshmen on the roster that are contributing The Independent Yellowjackets play a wide assortment of quality schools from all four divisions to prepare them for the postseason, where this team could make a run


The defending OKC-White Division champs are slightly down in terms of recent years for the Huskies, but still good enough for a top-50 showing There is ample talent to keep them in the upper echelon of the league and challenge for a district title. Junior Auden Stauffer (F, All-State Third Team) has recently committed to NCAA Division I Central Michigan University, while senior Anna Frost (D) signed with NCAA Division III Salem State University. Juniors Mae Doyle (M) and Evie Brown (M) join senior Ava Johnson (F) as returning starters. Senior Layne Sietsema (M) and sophomores Emma O’Connor (D) and Addie Johnson (D) will see more minutes, while sophomore newbies Lexi Smith (F) and Sydney Goldman (G) and senior Anna Thelen (D) are the top newcomers for first-year coach Juan Torres Thelen played ECNL with Midwest United last year and has signed with NCAA Division II Ferris State University

#45 #

The Chemics will drop down to Division 2 enrollment-wise this year but they are still a very good side who will be one of the top teams in the Saginaw Valley League this season – a league that is much deeper than in recent years This team tied for fourth place in the SVL last season. In the Division 1 state tournament last year, Midland upended rival Midland Dow 2-1 in a shootout in the district finals before falling in the regional semifinals to state powerhouse Portage Central (1-0), another game that reached a shootout. There’s plenty of returning talent, led by juniors Lizzy Streibel (M) and Theresa Wilk (M), both who earned All-League status last year. Seniors Kennedy Thurlow (M), Marianna Etienne (D) and Paige Freed (D) and juniors Sydney Fulcher (F), Niobe Marchalant (G), Ellary Laverty (F/D) and Morgan Ludwig (D/F) are also returning starters Seniors Brianna Gilmore (D), Coco Hurtubise (D), Kennedy Eyre (M) and Madalynn Emeott (M), juniors Ashley Sterling (D), Alahna Beckett (M/F) and Claire Carpenter (F) and sophomore Ava Kontranowski (M) are seeing increased playing time The Chemics started the season 2-1-1 with one clean sheet and an 11-6 edge on the scoreboard


Last season the Lancers were in and out of the top 15 in Division 2 before being ousted in the district semifinals to Plainwell, which reached the Final Four This season Lakeshore is inside the top-15 and 4-1-0 through April 15 with the only loss coming against defending Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference champion and Division 1 Portage Central (2-0). The Lancers own a 17-5 scoring edge thus far with one shutout. Juniors Emily Lockman (CB/F, All-State Honorable Mention), Preslee Perkins (F/M), Megan Wurster and senior Abby Hoss (D) all earned postseason honors of various sorts last season, while junior Jennah White (D/M) and seniors McKenna Keim (M) and Sophie DeLaForet (G) are also returning starters. Sophomore Hannah Reusser (M/D), junior Mia Bradley (F), seniors Kassidy Jackson (M/F) and Makena Mihalik (M) and sophomore Ailee Sustrich (F) have all aided the cause

37 #38 ROMEO (14-4-5):

This program’s rise over the last decade has been noteworthy The Bulldogs went from the middle-of-the-pack in the Macomb Area Conference-Blue Division to the White Division and to the Red Division a couple of years ago Three years ago, Romeo captured its first-ever district trophy and won one of the state’s deepest Division 1 districts Coming off a season where they won 14 games and finished second in the MAC-Red Division, Romeo should still be dangerous and has several players signed to play in college Seniors Ava Kelley (M, signed with NCAA Division II Saginaw Valley State), Addison Ayris (CB, signed with NCAA Division I University of Detroit-Mercy), Annelise Frank (CB, signed with NAIA Rochester University), Clare Carody (M), Jillian Wilkinson (F, signed with Rochester University) and Lydia Hill (F) are all well-seasoned players and returning starters Senior Ava Blomquist (F) played with the Nationals Girls Academy last season, and freshmen Lexi Meier (F) and Allison Szalewicz (M) have stepped right into a potent lineup. Romeo has played a tough non-conference schedule through April 15 and began 1-3-1 but is expected to be one of the top teams in Macomb County and the MAC-Red Division.


Two years ago as a state-ranked team coming out of the loaded Oakland Activities Association Red Division, the Blackhawks only lost three games that season and put it all together for the Division 1 state championship run There is a handful of holdovers from that squad and three that will play at NCAA Division I institutions in the future. Jenica Opdahl (G, All-State Honorable Mention) is headed for the Air Force, senior Tess Wright (D/M) will play at Indiana State and junior Emma Henry (M, All-State Third Team) is committed to the University of Detroit-Mercy Senior Ava Duquette (M/F) and juniors Sophia Spano (M/F), Elaina Perrotta (D/M), Lauren Cuson (D) and Chloe Salo (F) are also returning starters. Juniors Lily Ehmann (M) and Lauren Barocky, (M/F) have seen increased roles, while freshman Olivia Carlson (F) is part of a promising group of newcomers. Through April 15, Bloomfield Hills is 2-3-0 but owns two shutouts and a 5-4 scoring edge

#40 #
39 #

This may seem a little low for the defending Division 1 state champions who have been a staple in the preseason Top 50 for the last decade-plus But few teams in Michgan graduated 15 players and nine starters from the roster like the Cougars This team is much younger, but the cupboard is far from bare Seniors Sarina Shaw (M) and Olivia Lombardo (M) both started last season, while senior Lauren Palmer (M/F) added some scoring punch off the bench and senior Kaitlyn Krier (F) suffered a season-ending knee injury early last season Seniors Lily Stickney (M), Angie Toma (M/F, signed with NCAA Division III Adrian College) and Tigi Maio (CB) also have experience Senior Alyssa Welker (D) missed last season with an injury and sophomore Jessica Kennedy served as the understudy in goal but should get significant more playing time this year Junior Gianna Kay (D/M) sat out last season after transferring from Pontiac Notre Dame Prep, and both senior Erin Rice (G/M) and junior Delaney Batur (D/M/F) spent last season playing with Nationals Girls Academy in their age groups. There are several other newcomers gaining valuable minutes playing a difficult schedule for the Cougars, who started 2-2-2 with a 9-7 scoring edge.




The Bulldogs are always competitive, even though they sometimes are lodged in a deep district and the very deep KLAA-West Division and don’t always have a championship earned along the way Last year Brighton had some ups and downs early but won five of its final seven games where they held a 24-4 scoring edge and captured a district title with shutout wins over Holt (5-0), Hartland (3-0) and East Lansing (4-0) before falling to Grand Blanc (1-0) in the regional semifinals So far this season through April 15, the Bulldogs are 4-2-1 with a 17-7 edge on the scoreboard Although the top scorer from last year departed for the Michigan Jaguars Girls Academy, there is still plenty of talent to keep Brighton competitive Junior Ella Vandemergel (M/F, All-State Honorable Mention) and junior Olivia Sebestyen (M, All-State Honorable Mention) are coming off great years which saw them land high postseason honors. Seniors Anna VanKannel (F), Irene Kiilunen (D) and Ainsley Seiter (M/D), junior Naomi Bongero (D) and sophomores Brynn Bobby (F/M) and Maya Bjedov (D/F) all earned various postseason accolades and are returning starters. Seniors Emily Kramer (M, injured at the start of last year), Cameron Eberly (D) and Isobel Block (D) and junior Elaina Vandemergel (M) also return, while freshmen Addison Elliott (M) and Anna Brown-Nall (G) are key newcomers.

ANN ARBOR PIONEER (11-6-1) #34

After finishing fourth in the Southeastern Conference-Red Division last season, the Pioneers are hoping to slide up and challenge defending champion Saline and Ann Arbor Skyline this season behind new coach Andy Irvine. Through April 15, Pioneer has outscored its opposition 24-3 with three shutouts and posted a 5-1-0 record. The sole loss came against state-ranked Canton (3-1). Juniors Ivy Wilhelm (D/M, All-State Honorable Mention) and Georgia Wilhelm (M), seniors Lydia Behold (D/F), Daryn McDaniel (M) and Zoel Williston (D/M) and sophomore Quincy Behm (F) are returning starters Senior Jessica Jia (D) and juniors Sadie Wilkins (F), Maya Borgsdorf (M) and Molly Burke (G) also return There are 11 newcomers on the roster with freshmen Ava Fortini (D/M), Lucinda Gubbini (M) and Milly Sandstorm (F) vying for playing time Last year Pioneer still outscored the opposition 64-22 with nine shutouts but graduated 11 players and lost three more to the Michigan Hawks ECNL and Nationals Girls Academy

PLAINWELL (18-3-3): #33

Last season was one of the best for a program used to winning The Tigers advanced all the way to the Division 2 Final Four Those numbers include the Wolverine Conference championship at 7-0-0, a district and regional trophy, and an 85-11 scoring edge with 15 shutouts Some pieces to that lineup departed for the collegiate ranks but there is still plenty of talent up and down the roster The Tigers are 4-1-1 through April 16 with four shutouts and a 24-5 difference on the scoreboard and are going after their unprecedented 11th straight Wolverine Conference title. Seniors Kayla Baar (F, All-State First Team) and Brooklyn Timpe (M) lead the charge. Seniors Emily Stoeffler (M), Evalyn Alward (M) and Cayden Henckel (D), junior Sadie Boven (M) and sophomores Alayna Eldred (F), Lily Hendershott (D), Shea Hodapp (D), Anna Schierbeek (D/M), Emma Taylor (M) and Alyssa Weldon (D/M) also return. The sole loss this year came in the opener to Hudsonville (4-0), last season’s Division 1 state runner-up


This side is clearly back on the rise with six players headed to play college soccer in the future and has been resurrected in recent years under coach Sam Stearns. Last season saw the Fighting Scots win 13 games, finish second in the Ottawa Kent Conference-Red Division behind Division 1 state runner-up Hudsonville and reach the district finals. Although one key player is now on the roster at NCAA Division I University of Kansas, the talent pool is deep and has led to a 3-1-1 start through April 16 and a 9-2 scoring edge with three clean sheets. Senior Davanee Balczak (G, All-State First Team) is one of the state’s top keepers and headed to NCAA Division II power Grand Valley State Seniors Kendall Maynard (D, All-State Honorable Mention, signed with NCAA Division II Northern Michigan), Laney Peterson (D, signed with NCAA Division I Western Michigan University), Bella Teelander (F, signed with NAIA Aquinas College), Abigail Kramer (M, signed with NAIA Olivet University) and Alexa Pearson (D, signed with NAIA Spring Arbor) and junior Josie Wilcox (M, committed to NCAA Division II Davenport University) are all players that make up a strong core of returnees Sophomore Baylee Devries (F) is also back while freshman Averi Rosted (F) and sophomore Kortney Muller (M) lead the newcomers




Since opening its doors in 2002-03, Walled Lake Northern has regularly been a competitive bunch and last year the Knights shined in coach Mitchell Thompson’s first year at the helm Northern won both the regular season and league tournament title in the Lakes Valley Conference before winning three games to stake claim to a Division 1 district title In last year’s regional semifinals, the Knights gave then-state-ranked Northville everything it could handle before falling in a shootout (4-3) Seniors Kayla Budziak (D), Mia Czarnowski (D), Addison Porter (D) and Maura McClerren (M/F) and juniors Grace Vogt (M/F) and Brooklyn Zeleny (M) are all back in the starting lineup with several of these players earning All-LVC or All-District honors a year ago Senior Addyson Keelan (M) has seen her role increase while sophomore Gabrielle Payne (G) has been a pleasant surprise in goal as a newcomer A challenging schedule to start has the Knights sitting at 3-2-1 through April 16 with an 11-2 scoring edge but losses to stateranked Birmingham Marian (1-0) and Milford (1-0) and a tie against Saline (0-0), a Final Four team in Division 1 last year.



(12-5-1): #

Last year’s Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference champions are reloading slightly but are off to a 3-1-0 start with a 22-3 edge on the scoreboard That is preceded by last year’s campaign which saw eight shutouts and a 62-20 scoring differential Sophomore Cassidy Parmalee (F) will step up into the lead role on offense with juniors Ella Hanley (M), Ava White (M/F), Emma Glenn (D) and sophomore Amara Torrey (G) also returning starters Senior Madeline Schneider, (D), juniors Elise Bibart (G/D), Courtney Cutler (F), Molly Grassl (D), Ella Hanley (M) and Kearsten Schultz (D/M) along with sophomore Savannha Waterlander (M/F) have seen their roles and playing time increase. Freshman Anna Hoogerheide (M/F) is one of 10 newcomers trying to make a name for themselves.

MILFORD (11-3-3): #29

Milford opened up the 2023 season with five shutouts and ended up with one of its best seasons in school history The Mavericks won 11 games, finished second in the Lakes Valley Conference and outscored the opposition 57-11 with 11 shutouts Milford was upset in the district semifinals to end its season The bad news for opposing teams is that most of that roster is intact So far in 2024, Milford opened 4-1-0 through April 16 with a 22-4 scoring edge and three clean sheets Seniors Riley Mitchell (F), Brynn Dudley (D), Rylee Felton (M, University of Cincinnati), Allison Hooks (D, University of Miami-Ohio) and Ava Warner (F) all earned All-LVC honors last season Seniors Tessa Wilson (D), Allison Deep (D) and Leah Giese (F) also are returning starters, as are sophomores Camryn Bladzik (M), Lauren Bradley (F) and Lindsey Mitchell (D). Amongst the newbies are freshmen Taylor Vogel (D) and Ani Linson (M). Can the Mavericks win a conference or district title this year or maybe more?

CALEDONIA (13-5-1): #32


28 SPRING LAKE (17-3-2): Two years ago, the Lakers had Meah Bajt ringing up the scoreboards and setting records up top Last year was a more collective effort Regardless, Spring Lake always seams to be a factor in league races and long tournament runs The Lakers are again a state-ranked side in Division 2 and off to a 2-1-2 start with a 9-5 scoring edge and two shutouts against quality competition That follows up last season’s league runner-up (OKC-Blue Division) and district championship where the Lakers outscored its 22 foes 79-25 with 10 shutouts. Seniors Clara Saunders (M, All-State First Team), Jessica Stewart (G, All-State Second Team), Ella Andree (M, All-State Second Team, NAIA St. Mary’s College), Brooke Bolthouse (D, All-State Honorable Mention), Kylie Shelton (M) and Ella Rabideau (D) all found their way onto the All-OKC-Blue Division list. Seniors Kiele Stephenson (M/D) and Clara Howe (F/M), junior Lauren Nicles (D) and sophomore Lucia Folkert (D) also start Freshman Aveya Patino (F) has helped on the attack Spring Lake is one of the many D-2 programs in the Grand Rapids/Muskegon area capable of making a long tournament run this season

CLARKSTON (12-10-0)

After a rough season-opening loss to Rochester Adams, Clarkston has rebounded nicely with some key wins over quality programs There are several players on the roster who will suit up in college next year Senior Emma Bradley (M, NCAA Division II Saginaw Valley State) Macie Moscovic (D/M, NAIA Baldwin-Wallace College), Ava Tereau (F/M, originally committed to NCAA Division I Delaware State) and Avery Perkins (M/F), who played ECNL last season and originally committed but has since reopened her recruiting. Junior McKinlee Brumm (D, NAIA or Division III recruit) and seniors Kennedy Mareches (D, NAIA or Division III recruit), Izzy Shaw (G) and Nicole Lemker (D/F) are also returning starters. Sophomore Emilia Cantinella (12 goals as freshman), junior Lana Sloan (M, Division I and Division II recruit), who played with Nationals GA last season, and freshmen Alexa Knights (F) and Natalie Mora-Garcia (M/F) are amongst the contributors on a deep team Clarkston is 5-1-1 through April 15, outscoring the opposition 18-11


OXFORD (12-5-3):

The defending OAA White Division champion Wildcats were promoted to the OAA-Red Division this season and are much better than their 3-3-0 through April 15 record indicates. Senior Ella Boyd (F, All-State Honorable Mention, signed with NCAA Division II Northwood University) and senior keeper Korinne Ihrke (All-State Honorable Mention; signed with NCAA Division II Ferris State University) give the team two future college players. Sophomore Maddy Boyd (F) and juniors Sam Zeiter (D) and Ryan Walters (F) also return with each of them earning various types of postseason honors last year. Senior Maggie Casper (D), juniors Anna Terenzi (F), Allison Hufstedler (D/M) and Amelia Brown (M) and sophomore Sierra Owens (D) also return for Oxford Freshmen Addison Dahkle (M/F) and Olivia Smith (M), sophomore Avery London (D/M), juniors Piper Boyt (M/F), Vivian Cruz (F) and Camryn Budzik (F) and senior Ava Bailey (M) have also gained plenty of playing time Oxford was snakebit last season when Ihrke was hurt in warmups just minutes before its district semifinals clash last season with Clarkston and the Wildcats didn’t have a seasoned backup


BELLEVILLE (17-3-0):

Two years ago Belleville made a surprise run to the Division 1 regional finals. Now there are no more surprises from the Tigers. Belleville captured its first KLAA-East Division crown last season before bowing out to power Ann Arbor Skyline in a deep district That campaign saw the Tigers post a 92-16 scoring edge with 12 shutouts and despite being younger this year are off to a 6-0-0 start through April 15 with four more shutouts and a 19-2 scoring edge Senior Olivia McCluskey (D), juniors Chloe Abney (M), Mackenzie Simpson (F) and Addison Tulik (G) and sophomores Claire Davis (D) and Kayle Rupnow (M) all earned either All-League or All-League Honorable mention in the KLAA Juniors Payton Mathis (D) and Aubrey Adcock (M) have seen increased roles Seniors Brooke Hickman (M), Avery Batchelder () and Molly Parsons (F), junior Megan Roth (D) and freshmen Audrey Volk (M) and Sydney Lasenby (F) have all joined the fold


NORTHVILLE (18-1-4): #24

The two-time defending KLAA-West Division champs reached the Division 1 state finals in 2022 and the Final Four in 2023 Last season’s run included 14 shutouts and an impressive 51-13 scoring differential coming out of one of the state’s toughest leagues So the Mustangs’ 2-4-1 start is somewhat stunning Northville still holds a 12-11 scoring edge with three shutouts through April 16, but has been plagued by inconsistency Part of the problem has been that seven players gradated, another went to play ECNL and another All-State player opted not to return. Seniors Helena McLellan (M, All-State First Team), Natalia Leavens (M), Katie Gonzales (M), Avery Peters (D) and Caroline Meloche (D) and juniors Simran Magnan (G, All-State Second Team) were all represented on the All-KLAA team last season and form this year’s absence. Senior Kailyn Morrison (M/F, AllState Second Team, Miami-Ohio) is not rostered this season for undisclosed reasons.

Seniors Hannah Park (D), Addison Raffle (D), Angelina Kardadimas (D), Whitney Males (D), Cecelia Finkbeiner (CB) and Sydney Pedrosi (M/F), junior Ava Unger (M/F) and sophomore Julianna Bohlen (F/M) also have varsity experience The Mustangs are in the middle of the pack in a loaded KLAA-West but still have time to right the ship

EAST GRAND RAPIDS (18-3-3): #23

East Grand Rapids made a great comeback in 2023, making its first run to the Division 2 state championship game since 2009. The Pioneers held a 74-22 scoring edge with 10 shutouts and once again are a top-15 school in the Division 2 rankings and one of five quality teams in the OKC-White Division. In 2024, East Grand Rapids started 4-2-0 through April 15 with three shutouts while outscoring the opposition 21-4 The Lynn twins, sophomores Gracie Lynn (M) and Reese Lynn (M) combined for 42 goals last season and are future NCAA Division I players Juniors Brecken Grashuis (CB), Jori Mehney (CB), Hendrika Maher (F), Avery Leete (F) and Mollie Brandstadt (M/F) and sophomore Caitlin Brown (D) also return to the starting lineup Seniors Kersten Sykes (F), Anna Kelsch (D) and Samantha Peot (M) and juniors Priya Patra (F), Jemma Doublestein (D), Keila Gort (F) and Addison Behler (D) also return to the experienced roster

BYRON CENTER (14-4-4): #22

Still unranked in Division 1 as of April 16, legendary coach John Conlon has this team humming along to a 3-1-1 start through April 16 That includes a 11-3 edge on the scoreboard and two shutouts Senior Claire VanZanten (F, All-State Honorable Mention) is a Dream Team candidate, while seniors McKenna Lang (M/F) and Addison Alexander (M/F) and juniors Jordan Kearns (M/D), Emily Wray (D) and Kayla Roussey (M) also return Freshmen Ella Leyendecker (F), Katelin Leifer (G) and Leah Willey (F), seniors Bella Teller (G), Lauren Van Hooren (F) and Makenna Lance (F) and juniors Jordyn Zimmer (D), Lily Gould (M), Addison Gilpin (D) and Melanie Brougham (D) are all contributing. Last season the Bulldogs won a district championship in Division 1 while in 2021 they reached the Division 2 Final Four as a program.

RICHLAND-GULL LAKE (12-6-1): #21

Coach Jeff Corstange returns to his former position at Gull Lake where he captured three D-2 state titles from 2013-2015 Not to mention he guided the Blue Devils boys soccer team to a state title in 2022 No surprise of the 4-0-0 start through April 15 where the Blue Devils have chalked up an offense that holds a 16-1 edge and a stout defense with three clean sheets This team will compete for the Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference title Lilah Smith (D/M, All-State Second Team) is one of the state’s top juniors who has already committed to NCAA Division I University of Toledo Junior classmate Taygan Corstange (F, All-State Honorable Mention) is a two-sport standout who recently committed to NCAA Division I Wright State for volleyball Seniors Maggie Westra (M) and Kendall Wank (D) and sophomore Bella Carr (G) also earned some postseason honors last season. Junior Madielyn Smith (M) and sophomore Charlye Reiner (M) have moved into starting roles and sophomores Ali Bates (F), Maya Murphy (M) and Kamryn Kruger (M) and the freshman trio of Kenadie Schumann (D), Tessa Cothron (F) and Caroline Clancy (F) are part of a very promising cast of newbies.


ROCKFORD (9-6-3):

The Rams opened last season in the Division 1 top-15 before the injuries started to mount. Rockford ended up with nine wins, a third-place finish in the OKC-Red Division, nine shutouts and a 31-16 edge on the scoreboard before falling in the district semifinals to Byron Center. Don’t let this group’s general age fool you, even though there are 10 sophomores and two freshmen on this team. The Rams will be good this year and in years to come if this core sticks around the high school circuit. Seniors Mackenzie Blackmore (D/M), Avery Rose (D), Morgan Vanos (M), Celeste Tracy (D) and Ally Devries (F/M) are all returning starters, while sophomores Audrey Muterspaugh (M) and Grace Young (F/M), juniors Ryan Whitford (M) and Kaleigh Miller (D) and senior Wilma Holmgren (D) also saw ample minutes Senior newcomers Alexys Phillips (F/M) and Keaton Morris (D) have helped, while freshmen prospects Paige Shepherd (G) and Amelia Chapin (M) have already made an impact Several more sophomores are also gaining playing time for Rockford, which started 5-1-1 with three shutouts and a 28-6 scoring edge – almost matching last year’s goals scored total after seven games

MIDLAND DOW (14-4-4): #19

The defending Saginaw Valley League champs have been consistently good for more than three decades and last year was no exception. The Chargers held an impressive 66-17 scoring edge in a deeper than usual SVL and posted 10 shutouts. Dow ended up losing in a shootout to rival Midland (2-1) in last year’s Division 1district finals but opened the 2024 campaign back in the top 15. The Chargers opened 5-0-1 with a 20-3 edge on the scoreboard and three shutouts. Seniors Sarah Sharpe (D) and Sydney Lambert (D/F), junior Ivy Beall (M) and sophomore Melanie Kolnitys (F) are returning starters, with Kolnitys one of the top goal scorers in the SVL Seniors Carley Gatrell (D/F), Riley Schikorra (M/F) and Rachael Leuter (M/F) and sophomore Mallory Brandt (M) have moved up the charts into starting roles The cast of newcomers have actually elevated Midland Dow into a top-tier team, led by senior Avery Lehman (G), junior Jessica Neal (D) and a stellar freshman group of Lauren Schikorra (M), Aubree Bills (M), Allison Stockton (F) and Kaitlyn Oikarinen (D)


A model of consistency the last decade-plus, the Tars posted some good numbers last season for a team that reached the Division 1 regional finals before falling to eventual state champion Rochester Stoney Creek (2-1) in overtime. Anchor Bay won 12 games and tied seven, finished third in a deep Macomb Area Conference-Red Division, posted nine shutouts and outscored the opposition 42-20. The Tars started 2-1-1 though April 16 and have proven to be a tough team to score on again this season. Senior University of Toledo signee Gabby Anulare (M, All-State First Team), seniors Makenna Kennedy (F, Saginaw Valley State), Kyra Wolf (F, All-State Honorable Mention), Macey Firestein (G) and Brianna Sapienza (M/F), junior Charlotte Pouget (M) and sophomore Gabby Thiede (G) all started games last season and are steady performers Junior Rachel Glinski (D), sophomore Cara Brearley (D) and senior Rayne Hargis (D) will help shore up and anchor that stout back line Junior Katelyn Muzia (F) was injured last season, while freshman Peyton Strozewski (D) and junior Ava Tatro (D) add to that defensive mindset

UTICA EISENHOWER (10-5-2): #17

The defending Macomb Area Conference-Red Division champions carried six freshmen on varsity last season, where the Eagles gave eventual Division 1 state champion Rochester Stoney Creek everything it could handle before succumbing in the pre-district round via shootout (3-2) The Eagles still picked up seven shutouts and outscored their opposition 37-20 last season This year Eisenhower suffered a blow when two would-be starters suffered season-ending injuries the weekend before tryouts began, but the results on the field through April 16 have still been impressive The Eagles started 2-1-1 with an 18-4 scoring edge and one shutout and they have a challenging regular season schedule on tap before a rugged district begins at the end of May Sophomore Ellera Jakubowski (M/F) is one of the state’s better sophomores and seniors Ava Dukaj (M/F) and Hadley Farr (D) are steady performers and returning starters. Sophomores Sonja Patterson (D), Julina Aniel (M) and Abigail Beardsley (M/D) also started games last year. Sophomore Molly Mellott (G) replaces two nowcollegiate keepers in net and freshmen Maryn Smith (F) and Sam Losh (F) are quality players on the attack. Junior Priti Chahil (M) is one of several reserves from last season that have earned increased playing time.



After being knocked out by eventual state runner-up Hudsonville in last year’s Division 1 district semifinals, a lot of people forgot about the Sailors who are going after their seventh Ottawa Kent Conference-Green Division title in eight years this season. Mona Shores brought back a ton of talent from a team that outscored its 19 foes 70-13 with 11 shutouts. The Sailors only loss early this season has been against defending Division 3 state champion Hudsonville Unity Christian (2-1) and Mona Shores is 5-1-1 through April 16 but owns a 28-6 edge while lighting up the scoreboard They have also posted three clean sheets Senior Shay Norden (F, All-State Third Team) is headed to Calvin University and junior running-mate Ava Frye was the Sailors’ leading scorer as a sophomore Senior Jersey VanderWall (G) is a steady presence in net and will play volleyball in college, while seniors Lilly Houle (M) and Mal Hogston (CB) also earned some postseason honors on a deep team Senior Emma Anderson (D) and juniors Ella Kinney (M) and Addison Fisher (M) also return Sophomores Amelia Coffin (D) and Ella Charland (M) and junior Kylie Dusenberry (D/M) have filled in nicely for Mona Shores

ROCHESTER ADAMS (12-6-2): #15

The youngest team in the Oakland Activities Association-Red Division last season, the Highlanders started slow but carried a streak of seven straight shutouts into the Division 1 state tournament last season where Adams fell to Lake Orion (1-0). The Highlanders recorded 11 shutouts and outscored their opposition 42-18 despite playing a challenging schedule. This year Adams will not be sneaking up on anyone and this powerhouse program is back well inside the D-1 Top-15 through April 16. Adams began the campaign 4-1-2 with three more clean sheets and outscored its foes 20-5 Junior Saide Rogers (M/F, All-State Honorable Mention), seniors Danielle Danko (M/F), Kaitlyn Dempster (CB) and Helen Flores (M) and junior Alexa Cusmano (D) all were regular starters last year This team is deep and versatile with sophomore Lexi Calcamuggio (G), seniors Yohanna Wang (M/F), Evelyn Kekhoua (F/M), Bella Hamerink (F), Olivia Marcial (M), and Katelin Orsargos (D), juniors Julianna Zobrist (F) and sophomores Morgan Muir (M/F) and Regan Moore (F/M) all seeing increased minutes this season Senior Catherine Delicat (D), who played with the Nationals Girls Academy last year, and sophomore Maya Orlowsky (M) lead the newcomers

CANTON (11-5-5): #14

The now-Cobras (formerly Chiefs) were a hard team to figure out last season. They were shut out eight times but still posted 10 shutouts on their own and outscored the opposition 38-12. Canton put it all together at the end of the campaign, advancing to the Division 1 regional finals before falling to Saline (1-0) This season the Cobras are locked into a multi-team race in the depth-laden KLAA-West Division and lodged in the D-1 Top 15 behind a 5-1-2 start through April 16 Canton has already outscored the opposition 26-9 with four shutouts and that is with a tough schedule There are 10 returning starters, led by seniors Sydney Bohn (D), Chloe Hendricks (D), Carly Noe (F), Alexis Pickerel (M), Karly Ruffner (D) and Nora Schley (M), plus juniors Campbell Appert (G, All-State Honorable Mention), Payton Langenderfer (D), Ava Murphy (M) and Scarlett Nuechterlein (D, All-State Honorable Mention) All 10 of those players earned various All-KLAA and All-District honors and have been key parts to a lineup firing on all cylinders Senior Caitlin Noe (D) missed all of last season and is a starter this year. Another key player is senior Taylor Steinagel (D/F), who spent the last few years playing for the Michigan Hawks ECNL side but wanted to join her schoolmates this season. Canton last played in the state finals back in 2016.

ROCHESTER (18-1-2): #13

After finishing third in the Oakland Activities Association-Red Division in 2021, the Falcons were a top-10 mainstay the last two years and won back-to-back conference crowns Rochester only lost two games combined the last two seasons, once against Northville in the Final Four in 2022 and again to eventual Division 1 state champions Rochester Stoney Creek (3-1) in last year’s district finals. The Falcons outscored their foes 54-13 last season with 11 shutouts. A ton of firepower graduated with the departure of three All-State players on the attack, plus an outside back who is now at an NCAA Division I school. As expected, Rochester won’t score goals like the last three years, which has led to a 2-1-2 start through April 16. But the Falcons do hold a narrow 12-10 scoring edge so far. Junior Alice Max (G) is a NCAA Division I basketball recruit and seniors Emma Barker (CB, NAIA Lawrence Tech University), Katelyn Guolla (M/F, NCAA Division III Elmhurst College) and Keira Nagy (CB), juniors Kiely Robinson (M/D) and Riley Simpson (D) and sophomore Romina McGuire (M) are all returning starters There are several other players fighting for playing time on a deep roster, led by sophomore Stella Marlow (M), senior Presley Johnson (F), sophomore Allison Jeric (D/F, threesport athlete), freshman Lucia Erracalde-Santisteban (M/F) and junior Gabi Martin (D/M), who played the last two years with the Nationals Girls Academy in her age group


If it wasn’t for an upset loss, South Christian would have been in the regional finals last season and on course with powerful Hudsonville Unity Christian. Instead, an overtime setback to quality Grand Rapids Catholic Central nullified that potential matchup This season new coach Joel VandeKopple, who orchestrated numerous Final Four teams at Division 4 Lansing Christian, inherits quite a potent bunch The Sailors outscored the opposition 77-14 last season with 13 shutouts and captured another Ottawa Kent Conference-Gold Division and district crowns as a top-five team in Division 3 Senior Katelyn VanderArk (M, All-State First Team, signed with NAIA Indiana Wesleyan) and junior Olivia In’T Hout (G, All-State Honorable Mention) lead this team that is off to a No 1ranking in Division 3, a 3-1-1 start, three shutouts and a 14-3 difference on the scoreboard The Sailors’ only loss early this season was a 2-0 setback to Division 1 top-ranked Hudsonville which scored two goals in a five-minute stretch Seniors Toria Beute (D) and Maci Burgess (M) and juniors Alexa Boersma (M/F), Hayden Donker (M) and Elise Kits (F) also return for South Christian. Freshmen Izzy DeJong (M/F), Londyn Hebner (M/F), Maia Boersma (D) and Meredith Helmus (F) are also gaining minutes. South Christian owns two state titles in its history and it might be more if the Sailors were always in the same region as Unity Christian.

SALEM (10-8-3):

1A quick glance at the loaded KLAA-West Division and one can see Hartland, Salem, Canton, Northville, Brighton, Novi and Plymouth all beating up on one another and Salem is in the thick of that race Through April 16, the Rocks are 5-1-1, have outscored the opposition 20-6 with two shutouts, and are the only school to beat current Division 1 top-10 Hartland this season. That’s a step up from last year when Salem was a bit inconsistent with a 40-34 edge on the scoreboard, just three shutouts and a fifth-place finish in the league. This year’s group has eight returning starters back in the fold, led by seniors Morganne Jones (G), Elaine Rama (D) and Lauren Driscoll (M), juniors Cali Schwartzenberger (D), Katie Sarkesian (M) and Isabelle Prantera (M), and sophomores Lauren Fowler (F) and Aubrey Krischano (F) Plus, senior Miranda Sanford (F/M) was a part-time starter The biggest arrival is senior Claire Hammill (M) who spent the last few years with the Michigan Hawks and has committed to NCAA Division I Rutgers University Senior Katie Parana (F/M) also comes over from the Michigan Jaguars Girls Academy




The Colts were somewhat young last season, but still spent some time ranked early in the campaign. Troy recorded nine wins before bowing out in the Division 1 district finals to 2022 state champion Bloomfield Hills The Colts only outscored their opposition 33-20 with seven shutouts behind a tough schedule Historically, Troy has captured three state titles, four state runners-up and 15 Final Four appearances to date This season Troy is inside the top-15 through April 16, posting a 5-0-1 record with a 17-6 scoring edge Seniors Jenna Taylor (M) and Erin Soules (F), juniors Brooks Hotts (CB), Ava Fleming (M) and Maya Saad (D), and sophomores Sabrina Gaul (F), Audrey Hamilton (M) and Emma Rozek (D) are all experienced players back in the starting lineup Sophia Peronis (G) has moved into a starting role and has been a steady presence in net, while freshmen Bryann Zawislak (M) and Kaylee Worrell (M) and sophomore Olivia Jansniewicz (F) have been great additions.




The Hornets had their best season in 2023 since winning the Division 1 state title in 2015 and appear to be one of the many teams who could realistically make a deep run this season Saline outscored its foes 87-11 last season with 15 shutouts, won the Southeastern Conference-Red Division title outright and captured district and regional titles along the way. The postseason run ended against eventual D-1 state champion Rochester Stoney Creek (2-0) in last year’s state semifinals. So far this season, the Hornets began 3-1-1 and outscored its opposition 22-1 with four shutouts, although the sole loss was against league rival Ann Arbor Skyline. Sophomore Lydia Zajchowski (CB, All-State Third Team) was hurt two days before the state semifinals last year but is rounding back into form Fellow sophomores Sadie Walsh (M/F) and Nada Derneika (M) are also returning starters with Walsh on a scoring binge this season Juniors Sienna Snyder (F/M, All-State Honorable Mention) and Christina Snyder (M) and seniors Ashley Kruse (M), Audrey Driskell (D) and Norah Dawid (G) are also back in the starting contingent Seniors Ellie Warden (D/M), Riley Ablauf (D/M) and juniors Kordula Sadek (M), Bettina Soares (D), Ava Printy (D/M) and Anika Sadek (M) also return The cast of newbies include senior Avery Nam (F) and junior Cora Conley (M) who both played with the Michigan Hawks ECNL the last few years and have joined the high school ranks Plus, a host of other talented players making their varsity debuts are contributing


For just the third time in program history, the Red Hawks have a new coach Jason Clark took over in midFebruary on the heels of legendary Tim Storch and recently-retired coach Todd Heugh, who is now the athletics director, but has not skipped a beat Not much has changed for Athens, which owns four state titles, three state runners-up, seven state finals appearances and nine trips to the Final Four amongst its storied history Recently, the Red Hawks were state semifinalists in 2015, state runner-up in 2021, regional finalists in 2022 and regional semifinalists last year Athens was third in the Oakland Activities Association-Red Division last season and won a district trophy before falling in a shootout to New Baltimore Anchor Bay (4-3) in the postseason The Red Hawks scored 69 goals, allowed just 15 goals, and registered 14 shutouts last season. So far this season, Athens is 50-2 through April 16, posted six shutouts and outscored its opposition 19-1 enroute to a top-10 ranking in Division 1. Seniors Nichole Russell (D), Hannah Dombrowski (M), Madison Bloom (D, signed with NCAA Division I Central Michigan University), Sydney McBride (F/M, signed with NCAA Division II Tiffin University), Ava Weeks (G), juniors Lauren DeJonckheere (M/F, All-State First Team) and Emily Mendrick (M) and sophomore Abby Waldron (D) are all returning starters and most of them earned either All-OAA or All-District accolades Sophomore Lulu Thaqi (F), junior Ashley Miller (G) and seniors Madigan Tennies (D) and Adison Witner (F) also return Senior Alex Haggarty (M/D) played with the Nationals Girls Academy last season and leads the newbies



The Rangers are another program with a ton of success over the past quarter century Forest Hills Central owns five state championships, one state runner-up, six state finals appearances and 12 trips to the state semifinals A year ago, the Rangers finished second in the Ottawa Kent Conference-White Division, won a district title in Division 2, outscored the opposition 65-25 and pitched eight shutouts Expectations are through the roof again this season, where FHC started 5-0-1 with a 13-1 scoring edge and five shutouts through April 16 Three All-State players return, including senior Haley Ward (F, All-State Third Team), senior Sydney Ryan (M, All-State Third Team) and junior Lauren Coon (D, All-State Honorable Mention), although Coon is currently injured Seniors Ayla Thompson (M, signed with NAIA Spring Arbor), Gigi Sinicrope (D) and Abby Busch (CB), juniors Tessa Grooters (D/F) and Addison Reuter (G) and sophomore Audrey Leestma (M) also return to the starting lineup. There are six other returnees and nine newcomers also vying for minutes.


The question often asked is how well would Unity Christian do in Division 1 or Division 2? Although their talent level speaks volumes that they would still compete at a fairly high level if placed in those divisions, the Crusaders can still point to their history as being one of the top teams in the state overall year-in and year-out. Unity Christian does face D-1 and D-2 schools in the regular season on an annual basis and fares quite well against them. Last year’s team outscored the opposition 113-8, posted 16 shutouts and a team 0.34 goalsagainst-average, and only lost an early-season game to Division 2 state-ranked Richland Gull Lake. Over the past 10 games alone, Unity held a 55-3 scoring edge with seven clean sheets, while in the state tournament they outscored their six foes 35-0 Looking at the all-time numbers including postseason success, the Crusaders have 11 state titles (second all-time), four state runners-up (tied for seventh), 19 Final Four appearances (second) and 15 state finals appearances (second) Players want to play for Unity Christian and legendary coach Randy Heethuis Don’t let the fact that six of the team’s seven All-State players graduated The Crusaders were one of the state’s deepest teams last year playing over 20 players regularly Junior Ava Lutke (F/M) is one of the state’s top overall talents and will be a Miss Soccer candidate this year and next year She was All-State Dream Team after scoring 28 goals with 17 assists and recently verballed to Michigan State as a top 100 junior in the country. Seniors Stella DeSmit (F), Emily Timmer (M) and Vivian Nagerlkirk (M) are all returning starters after earning various postseason honors last season. Sophomores Ava Steen (D) and Tessa Ponstein (M) have moved into starting roles. The list of newcomers is very talented with sophomores Addi Pell (F), Emma Vruggink (M) and Kiersten Witte (M) and freshmen Brooklyn Holtrop (M), Kyla Kobrzychi (M) and Karli Rose (D) all making impacts Senior Anna Newhof (G) played only 365 minutes as a backup last season and junior Kennidee Crump (G) comes up from the junior varsity to serve as the understudy in goal Oh, don’t forget this year where the Crusaders were 4-0-0 through April 16 with three more shutouts and a 13-1 scoring edge

TROY ATHENS (17-3-2): #8

Playing in one of the state’s top conferences in the state, the KLAA-West Division, Hartland has enjoyed a lot of success in recent years The Eagles captured their first and only state crown in 2021 (Division 1) and opened the year well inside the top 10 in Division 1 this year Through April 16, Hartland stood 6-1-0 including a 2-1 season-opening loss to Salem (2-1), have pitched two shutouts and outscored the opposition 24-7 Last year the Eagles outscored the opposition 33-20 with seven shutouts but were second in a loaded KLAA-West and return a ton of talent this year There are nine returning starters and 20 total returnees as the Eagles hope to make another run this year and go after championships along the way Seniors Alyse Daavettila (F/M) and Emma Kastamo (M) are both four-year starters, while senior Emma Swirczek (M) is also a third-year starter Daavettila was All-State Third Team last year, while Kastamo and Swirczek have signed to NCAA Division II Northern Michigan University. The aforementioned trio was also All-KLAA last season along with juniors Isabella DePestel (D), Addie Frantti (F) and Sophia Pietila (D). Seniors Josie Cheyne (F) and Ellie Laier (D) and sophomore Paige Sundman (F) also started games. There are 11 others that came back, including junior Jenna Brock (G) who starts in net. Freshman Claire L’Esperance (M) has made a huge impact on the attack.


If defense wins championships, then the Mustangs hope that their state finals drought can end this season. Portage Central, despite being a ranked team during most seasons, has not captured a state crown since 2009 in Division 1 The defensive-minded Mustangs own two state titles, one state runner-up and their nine Final Four appearances ranks tied for 14th overall Last season Central finished second in the Southern Michigan Athletic Conference but captured the SWMAC tournament championship and Division 1 district championships before bowing out to Hudsonville (1-0) in the regional finals That team posted 14 shutouts and a 0 67 team goals-against-average, scored 48 goals overall and conceded only 14 tallies Through April 16 this season, the Mustangs own a 5-0-1 record, a 26-2 scoring difference and four more shutouts and are firing on all cylinders Seniors Mia Hensley (CB, All-State Honorable Mention) anchors the back, along with senior Alana Simmons (D) and junior Alli Rearick (G) Seniors Maddie Crowley (F), Emma Sanborn (F/M) and Elise Martinson (M/F) and junior Katie McLaughlin (M) are part of an explosive offense and returning starters. Seniors Elise Dimick (M), Marissa Talbott (D) and Mallory Semelbauer (D), along with juniors Lauren Tooley (M), Anna Pellegrini (F), Kyra Gardner (F), Madison Cutler (F) and Kaeli Mason (D) also return to a deep team. HARTLAND (10-5-3):



Even despite having five players out with season-ending injuries even before the opening kickoff in 2023, Marian still cruised along last season winning CHSL-Central Division CHSL-Bishop Tournament and Division 2 district championships along the way. The Mustangs posted 13 clean sheets and only conceded eight goals all season 0(.42 team G.A.A.) while scoring 53 goals. Then the unexpected happened. The Mustangs saw unranked Grosse Pointe North storm back in a regional semifinal and claimed a 3-2 shootout victory enroute to a Division 2 state championship run Marian went home So far this season through April 16, Marian is off to a 3-0-2 start, scored six goals while not allowing a single goal in the first five games There is a bevy of talent on this roster, and healthy, and this team will simply be difficult to score upon this season Seniors Olivia Zahnow (CB), Agatha Valka (F), Madeline Stenger (F), Danielle Mertz (G) and Katelynn Freese (D), juniors Isabella Musachio (F), Nadia Valka (CB) and Abigail Walton (D), and sophomores Clair Dauer (CM), Lily Robinson (CB) and Bella Sheens (CM) all started games last season Dauer (All-State Second Team), Zanhow (All-State Third Team), Valka (All-State Honorable Mention), Musachio Valka (All-State Honorable Mention), Mertz Valka (All-State Honorable Mention) and Robinson Valka (AllState Honorable Mention) all received various All-State awards from the MIHSSCA Adri Kattoo (All-State First Team) graduated. Several others players also earned All-District or All-CHSL honors as well. This team is very deep with 17 returnees and two freshmen, Nia Bordogna (M) and Francesca Kulpa (D), are either starting or some of the first players off the bench.


Since opening its doors in the late 2000s, Skyline has developed into a state powerhouse program and could have its best team to date with a senior-laden squad. The Eagles battle in a deep Southeastern Conference-Red Division and power district and again will battle the likes of Saline, Ann Arbor Pioneer, Dexter and Ann Arbor Huron in the league or try to escape a treacherous district There are eight returning starters – all seniors – led by arguably the state’s top goalkeeper in Sophia Nehro (All-State Dream Team), who is still being recruited by NCAA Division I, NCAA Division II and NAIA schools and hails from a quality Michigan Tigers club team Classmates Brianna Ferguson (M), Lucy Serlin (D), Hadley Zann (D) Ava DeBenedet (F), Rori Deyer (M), Jenna Kafi (D/M) and Cassie Couch (D) also return for a team that is quite capable of postseason success Senior Ainsley Gardner (G/D) and sophomores Jade Thompson (F), River Pham (F), Gabrielle Marble (M), Elle Kierce (D) and Kennedy Wassef (D) also return with varsity experience Senior Maya Richardson (D), sophomores Quincy Tramontin (F) and Julia Moe (F) and freshmen Julia Moe (F), Maeve Kilbride (F) and Page Bazzani (M) are part of a group of newcomers that have aided a fast start which includes a win over league rival Saline. Through April 16 Skyline was a perfect 3-0-0 and with shutouts. Last year Skyline finished 12-4-5, outscored the opposition 72-10, posted 14 shutouts and a 0.48 team goals-against-average. The Eagles still finished as the league and district runner-up, so there is plenty of unfinished business from this group.


HUDSONVILLE, Mich. – Do all roads lead through Hudsonville? Or better yet, do all roads lead from Hudsonville?

Those are the questions one must ask in the early season of the 2024 girls soccer campaign in Michigan.

For Hudsonville High School, the Eagles hope that this will finally be the year of tears of joy and not tears of disappointment

Hudsonville was listed on the Michigan High School Soccer Coaches Association preseason to watch list back in early March and the Eagles opened up at No 1 in the MIHSSCA Division 1 rankings in early April

And rightfully so

Two years ago, Hudsonville made a run to the Division 1 regional finals which was the furthest the Eagles had advanced at the time.

Last year Hudsonville advanced to the Division 1 state championship game at Michigan State University before succumbing to Rochester Stoney Creek (2-1) in a battle of two top-five teams The Eagles held a 1-0 lead until two-time Miss Soccer winner Lilley Bosley of Stoney Creek scored two goals in the final 10 minutes to give the Cougars the win – and rip the collective hearts out of Hudsonville’s players, coaches, fans and the entire community in general

That’s sports – and that’s definitely soccer

Understandably, Hudsonville is the Michigan Soccer Network Super 50 No 1-ranked team in the early going of the 2024 season. The Eagles are loaded and will have had a large target on their backs and will have such a grand target for the remainder of the season.

Last year the Eagles outscored the opposition 71-12 with 15 shutouts and outscored its foes 11-2 in the postseason. The Eagles finished 7-0-0 in the regular season standings of the Ottawa Kent Conference-Red Division and followed that up with three wins in the conference tournament to earn the OKC-Red crown outright for the second straight campaign

ANN ARBOR SKYLINE (12-4-5): #2

Through April 17 this season, Hudsonville has clearly picked up right where it left off and has outscored the opposition 19-1 with four shutouts and a 4-0-1 overall record. Coach Holly VanNoord, now in her seventh season at the helm, welcomes back a bevy of talent, experience and several future college players as they unite for one common destination and final goal – an elusive state championship.

Senior Kendall Aikens (M/F) is one of the leading candidates for the Miss Soccer award and the reigning All-State Dream Team standout was a prized recruit at NCAA Division II national powerhouse Grand Valley State University Senior Reid DeGoede split time in 14 shutouts last season and played in the first half against Stoney Creek in the finals She has three more understudies in goal this season but is a standout in her own right as the school keeps producing quality goalkeepers

Sophomore Lauren Moylan (M) is already a high-level NCAA Division I recruit despite not playing year-round ECNL or Girls Academy soccer and she’s set for a huge campaign Senior Maislin Joldersma (All-League) scored 16 goals last season, while seniors Brooke Harmsen (M/D), Allyson Merrihew (D/M) and Adelyn Raad (D) along with junior Lexi Armstrong (M) are returning starters.

Seniors Ashley Johnson (F), Gracie Beld (F), Allyson Oly (D), Sofia Delinck (D), Nora Klein (D), Kate Albrecht (D) and Hattie Chirco (G) and juniors Vaarra Hefer-Zik (M), Cadence Williams (F) and Campbell VandenHuevel (M) were all on the roster last season and vying for more playing time this season There are 18 returning letterwinners to go along with a small cast of newcomers

Senior Kaylah Burget (D), juniors Kassi Helmkamp (G) and Emma Corlett (F) and sophomore Kailey Walcott (G) make up the small band of new players

With crosstown neighbor Hudsonville Unity Christian winning double-digit state titles (11) in the last quarter century –Unity is where Coach VanNoord starred at years ago before playing at NCAA Division I Liberty University – is it time for Hudsonville to rise to the top at the end of the season?

The Eagles begin at No. 1 and could possibly hit the road from Hudsonville to East Lansing and take home the grand prize for the first time at season’s end.

But who are some of the other great teams around Michigan? Dig into the Michigan Soccer Network’s Super 50 list, honorable mentions, conference-by-conference team capsules, players to watch and so much more during March and April and see what stars are shining bright or could be when May and June roll around

Credit: Becky Particka


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ORCHARD LAKE, Mich. – Most start-up programs struggle to get off the ground. That’s a reality.

Throw in most programs Someone forgot to tell that to the players and coaches on the Orchard Lake St Mary’s girls soccer team

Orchard Lake St. Mary’s has been around for more than 100 years, as a private Catholic boys school It wasn’t until August of 2020 that the school added a female student population and its girls sports teams have thrived, especially the girls soccer program.

The Eaglets are currently ranked 15th in the state in the Division 2 rankings, as selected by the Michigan High School Soccer Coaches Association Not bad for a program only two-thirds of the way through its third season of existence

“I don’t mind being under the radar,” admitted St. Mary’s girls soccer coach Keith Jeffery, who also coaches the boys soccer team at the school for the last seven-plus years “I’m okay with that But being ranked does show that we are doing something right.”

When St. Mary’s rolled out the balls in March of 2022, the school barely had enough girls to even go through with its inaugural campaign

Jeffery and some of his players recruited student-athletes from other sports to come out for the soccer program. St. Mary’s was a Division 4 soccer program that season, with enrollment being well under 100 students on the girls’ side and only featured freshmen and sophomores in the girls portion of the prestigious school located on the eastern end of picturesque Orchard Lake in central Oakland County.

St Mary’s still fielded a very competitive team in its inaugural campaign as a Division 4 school while playing all D-3 and D-4 schools from around southeastern Michigan Competing as an independent, OLSM finished 11-3-0 overall with eight of the wins ending via the mercy rule. St. Mary’s outscored its 14 foes 89-8 and even went 1-1 in the D-4 postseason, blanking Brighton Livingston Christian (8-0) before falling to Clarkston Everest Collegiate/Bloomfield Hills Sacred Heart Unified (2-0) in the district finals.

The Eaglets had two players garner All-State accolades that debut season, including then-sophomore Cameron Cole (F) and then-freshman Kira Howcroft (G) Enrollment jumped up quite a bit for the 2002-03 school year and the MHSAA opted to count both the boys and girls student-body as one, as they are on the same campus and same buildings, even though classes are separate between the two genders.


With a much larger student-body count, OLSM landed in Division 2 in girls soccer, raising up two whole divisions, as other girls sports saw a similar drastic move up the charts

Now, the Eaglets were in the Catholic High School League for the first time in 2023 and playing in the AA Division along with numerous quality soccer programs with a ton of history The division is a sprinkling of Division 2, Division 3 and Division 4 programs “Look at the teams in our division of the Catholic League,” beamed Jeffery “You’re talking about a lot of schools that have won state titles in their history, or at least played in the state finals or (state) semifinals. It’s really tough. But there we were, being just a second-year program with no seniors playing in that league We held our own, but it was nothing like playing almost all D-4 programs like our first year The competition was greater last year than our first year.”



The Michigan Soccer Network can give you access to more than just one team, one league We can give you access to so much more.


Case in point. The entire three-division CHSL has teams that have enjoyed tremendous success the last 40 years or so. Madison Heights Bishop Foley has an MHSAA record 12 state titles, five runners-up and 21 Final Four appearances The aforementioned Everest Collegiate was the D-4 state runner-up last year and while paired with nearby Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes during the previous decade, captured one state title with three more runners-up between 2010-2015.

Grosse Pointe Woods University-Liggett reached the state semifinals in D-4 last season, won state titles in 2005 and 2016 and has been on numerous deep runs.

Ann Arbor Greenhills owns a state title and three runner-up trophies, Royal Oak Shrine has a pair of state crowns and one runner-up in the last decade and several other schools, such as Warren Regina, Farmington Hills Mercy, Bloomfield Hills CranbrookKingswood, Macomb Lutheran North, former CHSL member Pontiac Notre Dame Prep and now defunct Livonia Ladywood have enjoyed multiple deep runs and have been to the Final Four

think we would love to see Goodrich again if we can make a run and so can Goodrich We’re in different districts this season but could see them in regionals if both of us can advance that far.”

Or if both can advance deep into the state tournament this season.

“That’s a lot to live up to,” laughed Jeffery “The (CHSL) is always one of the toughest leagues in the state. It’s never easy, we know that. But playing our schedule we play now will really get us ready for the postseason ”

During its second campaign, the numbers for St. Mary’s dropped somewhat, as expected, with tougher competition overall The Eaglets only recorded three shutouts, although the former All-State performer Kira Howcroft missed last season with an injury The team still posted a solid 11-6-1 record, including 4-2-1 in the CHSL-AA Division and outscored its opposition 50-37

After finishing third in its league, OLSM again advanced to the district finals in Division 2 before falling to Goodrich (2-1) on a late goal in the final five minutes

“That’s how it goes sometimes,” recalled Jeffery. “I think we would love to see Goodrich again if we can make a run and so can Goodrich. We’re in different districts this season but could see them in regionals if both of us can advance that far ”



St. Mary’s has enjoyed a great school year on the soccer pitch. The Eaglets captured Catholic High School-AA Division titles at both the varsity and junior-varsity levels last fall during the boys soccer season, as both of those teams went unbeaten in conference play. The varsity boys soccer team reached the CHSL-Cardinal Tournament finals last October before falling to Toledo (Ohio) St John Jesuit 4-3 in a shootout That was the first time the school reached the CHSL finals in soccer in either gender.

This spring, the girls soccer team is trying to check even more boxes than their male counterparts – and, again, this being just its third year of varsity girls soccer. The Eaglets captured their first division crown Wednesday with a come-from-behind, 2-1 victory over previously-unbeaten Macomb Lutheran North in the final division game of the season Lutheran North, ranked third in the state in Division 3, had not tasted defeat since a 3-1 setback to fellow state-ranked Warren Regina in a Division 3 district semifinal last May 30 It was Lutheran North that drew first blood in the showdown when senior Marena Maceroni scored a banger just five minutes into the contest Maceroni was named All-State Third Team last season and is the Mustangs’ leading goal scorer both last season and this season

Maceroni’s soccer program at Lutheran North has been around since the mid-1980s, unlike St Mary’s which is still in its infant stages In just the second meeting between the two schools –although with bigger stakes – St. Mary’s prevailed. The Eaglets defeated the Mustangs 2-1 on May 18 of last year in an CHSL crossover game, as Lutheran North was up in the CHSL-Central Division a year ago

St Mary’s was able to claw back and prevail thanks to a pair of goals from senior midfielder/forward Cameron Cole Headed for NCAA Division I University of Toledo in August on a soccer scholarship, Cole scored her 30th and 31st goals of the campaign and the St Mary’s defense made it stand as the Eaglets finished 8-0-0 in conference play for the first time to clinch the title

St Mary’s will host Division 4 10th-ranked Grosse Pointe Woods University-Liggett on May 16 in Orchard Lake in the CHSL-Cardinal Tournament semifinals The CHSL reinstituted a semifinals round to its Bishop Tournament and Cardinal Tournament this year The winners of those games will advance to the CHSL finals May 18 at Royal Oak Shrine Catholic “We really do try to take it one game at a time,” said Cole, arguably the top player in the CHSL this season. “I think it’s so cool that we won our division Now we have a chance to win our first (CHSL) league tournament I didn’t think that would have been possible a couple of years ago ”

So far this season, St. Mary’s has produced 10 shutouts during a 12-2-1 start and the program is setting numerous team and individual school records along the way The Eaglets have outscored their opposition 53-16 this season. And allowed just five schools to even score on them. Both losses came against Division 1 schools Royal Oak and Birmingham Seaholm, two schools with much larger enrollments and established programs, plus the school was missing a couple of key players against Seaholm. Still, there is much more work to do


St Mary’s will play host to two-time state champion University-Liggett next Thursday at home in the CHSLCardinal semifinals with a berth of the Catholic league finals on the line. A win will jettison the Eaglets into the finals in their first time playing in the CHSL girls soccer league tournament That’s just another stepping stone of literally building a program from the ground up, brick-by-brick, piece-by-piece, even though the progression has been quicker than what one eventually believed

The Eaglets have high-level players

Howcroft came back from injury this winter and gives St Mary’s a quality keeper between the pipes. Sophomore Hope Richer (M/D) has also bounced back from an injury suffered last summer

Cole, who also play club soccer with Liverpool FC and in the ECNL, gives the team a legitimate All-State First Team and All-State Dream Team candidate The All-State Third Team selection from last year is the school’s first NCAA Division I soccer player.

Sophomore Delaney David (CB) is also a future college prospect who earned All-State Honorable Mention honors last year as a freshman The talented David anchors a stout back line that has yielded only 1 07 goals against this season and aided those 10 clean sheets.

Seniors Gwyn Teshka (D), Bella Raynish (CB) and Summer Reising (M) are experienced players, with Raynish also doubling with lacrosse and will play at Central Michigan University in that sport next year. Juniors Caroline Kopmeyer (M) and Harper Natinsky (F/M), sophomore Olivia Rust (M) and freshman Alexis Hazamy (M/G) are some of the other players that could end up earning postseason accolades such as AllCatholic, All-Division, All-District, All-Region or even AllState

“We have a bunch of great girls This has been a lot of fun watching them grow as individual players and as a team,” offered Jeffery.

As for the upcoming state tournament – the district seeds will come out May 12 – St. Mary’s should gain a No. 1 seed in its district hosted by Linden and featuring schools from Oakland, Genesee and Livingston counties

The school is going for its first district title in school history. “We came so close last year,” recalled Cole “We gave up that goal in the last couple of minutes It’s frustrating, but we are really looking forward to districts this year. We want to go as far as we can this year ”

As for Jeffery, he smiles at how far his program has come in just three short years.

“We have got better and better this season,” he said. “The girls have worked hard and they are enjoyable to coach I think we’re all looking forward to the Catholic tournament and to districts.”

Forget baby steps This program is already beyond that


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