Listen live online Saturday at 3 p.m. ET on the Slocum Sports Network to the MHSAA Division 4 boys soccer state championship game between the Hackett Catholic Irish and Greenhills School Gryphons. The match will be played at Stoney Creek High School in Rochester Hills, about a two-and-a-half hour drive for Kalamazoo-based Hackett and about a hour trip for Ann Arbor-based Greenhills.
The contest will actually be their second state championship meeting with Hackett winning over Greenhills 2-0 in the 1992 Class C-D final. It’s the second finals trip in three years for Hackett, who fell in the 2015 final 3-2 (OT) against Genesee Christian. Last season, they were stopped in the semifinal. The Irish made it to the championship on four other occasions, earning titles in 1991, 92, 94, and 95.
Like Hackett, Greenhills was stopped last year in the semifinal round. This will be their fourth championship appearance with the Gryphons hoping for that elusive title, they were runner-up in 2010, 09, and 92.
According to the MHSAA’s press notes, the Irish officially enter the match with a record of 19-1-2, although their team page shows 20-1-3. Ranked fourth in the final Division 4 Coaches Association poll, Hackett defeated #8 Buckley 3-1 in Wednesday’s semifinal off a hat-trick from Max Keenan. The Irish were tested last week in a 1-0 overtime win in the Regional final against Hartford. Against their first four playoff foes, Hackett outscored them 30-2.
Keenan leads the team with 44 goals, followed closely by fellow junior forward Brennan Creek at 40. As a team, the Irish are averaging more than five goals per game and allowing exactly one per contest. It’ll be the second crack at a title for coach Ian Troutman, whose first season at the helm was 2015.
Greenhills sits at 19-6-1 and was ranked fifth in the final Coaches Association poll. The Gryphons avenged their 2016 semifinal loss Wednesday by defeating 2015 and 2016 champion Genesee Christian 3-1. In the Regional tournament, Greenhills grabbed 1-0 wins over #6 Hillsdale Academy and #13 Monroe St. Mary’s. The Gryphons were tested from the very start, opening the district tournament on a 3-1 win over #12 Manchester.
On the season, Greenhills is averaging 3.24 goals per game and allowing just over one per contest. Junior Zachary Zimmerman has led the offense with 31 goals and 24 assists. Senior midfielders Evan Marx (17) and Matthew Pumphrey (13) are next in line. It’s also the second chance at a championship for Greenhills coach Lucian Popescu, who took the Gryphons to the 2010 final in his debut with the team.