The Greenhills School Gryphons claimed their first state championship in their fourth try Saturday at Stoney Creek High School, defeating the Hackett Catholic Irish 1-0 in the Division 4 final. For the second time in three seasons, Hackett was denied in the final, putting the program all-time at 4-2 in championship games
The first half was scoreless and pretty even overall between both squads. Just before the start of the second half, faint thunder prompted a delay and soon after, a full thunderstorm was over Rochester Hills. After about 90 minutes, the lightning ceased and the players returned to the field with a large rainbow sitting behind the net defended by Hackett in the second half.
Greenhills came out firing in the second half and dominated the possession and controlled the opportunities. With 23:58 remaining, the Gryphons got the game’s lone goal as a Matthew Pumphrey corner kick found the lower body of Jerry Tucker and bounced into the net. The Irish finally had a few chances in the final ten minutes, but none could get by goalkeeper Leo Fried, officially credited with four saves on eight shots. Hackett’s Joe Carr also was credited with four saves.
Greenhills finishes the season at 20-6-1 with Hackett at 19-2-2. It was the first state title for Gryphons coach Lucian Popescu, who took the team to the final in his 2010 debut season. The future is bright for the Irish, as they’ll return nearly all of their scoring from a team which averaged five goals per game. Graduating are Carr, along with midfielders Jake Wurtz and Jackson Bradshaw, and defenders Matthew Sherwood and John Benjamin.
Listen back to the broadcast of the game below:
FIRST HALF & HALFTIME
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.
For the second time in three seasons, the Hackett Catholic Irish will be playing for a Division 4 boys soccer state championship. Hackett defeated the Buckley Bears 3-1 Wednesday at East Kentwood, getting all three goals from junior forward Max Keenan, giving him 44 total on the season.
Hackett brought the pressure immediately and Keenan earned a penalty kick in the fourth minute, putting it to the right on the ground by goalkeeper Joey Weber. It was the first goal Buckley had allowed in the postseason. In the 14th minute, Keenan got an assist from Aidan Gillig for the 2-0 Irish advantage.
In the 37th minute, Keenan found his way through three blue shirts to earn the hat-trick for a 3-0 lead at halftime, becoming the first team to score three on a Buckley squad which had allowed only 12 goals in 24 other matches. Possession remained in favor of Hackett for the rest of the match with Buckley finally getting a goal on a deflection from Denver Cade in the 89th minute. Unofficially, Irish goalkeeper Joe Carr had four saves with six by Weber for Buckley.
The Bears, eighth in the final Coaches Association poll, finish their program’s strongest ever season with a 20-2-3 record. The Irish, fourth in the final poll, move to 20-1-3 and will play in the championship for the sixth time in program history. They will play fifth-ranked Ann Arbor Greenhills, who knocked out two-time defending champion Genesee Christian 2-0. The Division 4 championship is scheduled for a 3 p.m. kickoff Saturday at Rochester Hills Stoney Creek and can be heard live via the Slocum Sports Network.
Listen back to the semifinal match below:
Listen live online Wednesday at 6 p.m. on the Slocum Sports Network as the Hackett Catholic Irish and Buckley Bears meet in a Division 4 soccer state semifinal from East Kentwood. Hackett is in the final four for the third consecutive season, meanwhile this is the deepest Buckley has ever advanced.
Hackett enters the semifinal with a mark of 19-1-3 and a #4 ranking in the final Division 4 Coaches Association poll. The Irish are the top-ranked team among those in the final four, averaging just over five goals per game and allowing 24 goals in 23 matches. They’ve scored multiple goals in all but three of their matches and have gotten three or more in all but five matches.
Hackett outscored their first four postseason opponents a combined 30-2, including a 6-2 district final win over #17 Kalamazoo Christian and a 8-0 destruction of previously unbeaten Howardsville Christian. The Irish were tested and forced into overtime by #11 Hartford in the Regional final Friday after 80 minutes of scoreless play. Goalkeeper Joe Carr held for an extra 20 minutes and junior Brennan Creek found the net for a 1-0 victory.
Hackett was knocked out in the semifinal last season in a 4-3 overtime thriller to Muskegon Catholic Central. In 2015, the Irish made it to the championship for the first time since 1995, but came up short in overtime 3-2 to Genesee Christian. The Irish have been state champions before, winning four times from 1991-1995. In recent history, the program has won seven consecutive District championships.
Buckley enters the semifinal at 20-1-3 and a #8 ranking in the final poll. The Bears have allowed only one goal in their last 12 matches and have allowed only 12 goals total all season, while averaging 3.75 scored per game. Whereas Hackett has been a yearly soccer power, Buckley’s soccer success is new, with the Bears winning their first ever district crown last season.
The Bears easily dispatched their three district challengers this year, outscoring them 21-0. Waiting for them in the Regional tournament was the daunting duo of #3 Western Michigan Christian and #2 Leland. Their lone loss of the year came to Leland 2-1 in the regular season, although the Bears did get the win back 3-0 two weeks later.
Against WMC, Buckley goalkeeper Joey Weber turned away 25 shots on goal to force penalty kicks after 100 scoreless minutes, then made two shootout saves for the Buckley win. Their Regional final Thursday against Leland had a similar script as Weber made 15 saves to force PKs after 100 scoreless minutes, then made two more shootout saves to punch their ticket to the final four.
Listen live online to Wednesday’s semifinal match on the Slocum Sports Network with kickoff set for 6 p.m. from East Kentwood’s Pat Patterson Field. The winner meets either #5 Ann Arbor Greenhills or #14 Genesee Christian in the championship Saturday with the time and location to be announced.
For the first time in program history, the Coldwater Cardinals have made it to the boys soccer final four. Coldwater won their Regional final Saturday 1-0 over Lakeshore from Marshall High School. The lone goal came in the 29th minute as a long shot from senior Tyler Kooi slipped through the hands of Lakeshore goalkeeper Oli Carmody.
The Lancers upped the pressure in the second half and ended up with six corner kicks in the match, but they couldn’t get by junior goalkeeper Balal Nasser, who recorded his fourth postseason shutout with an unofficial tally of seven saves.
“He’s gotta be one of the best in the state right now,” said Coldwater coach Ken Delaney of Nasser. “He keeps us in games. And just great team defense that we’re playing right now too, everybody knows their role and does their job.”
The school-record for wins in a season continues to grow as Coldwater advances, putting them to 22-3-1 on the season. Lakeshore finishes their campaign at 15-10-1.
“Even games that we’ve been down, we never give up,” said Delaney. “It’s a good decision making team and we’re very, very quick.”
Ranked seventh in the final Division 2 Coaches Association poll, Coldwater is the highest ranked team in the final four and will meet the next best remaining, #8 Holland, in Wednesday’s semifinal.
“I saw them last year in the Regionals when they were there. They’ve got speed too, they’ve got a couple of really good attacking players up top. It’s gonna be tough,” said Delaney.
Coldwater faces Holland Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the semifinal from Portage Northern High School. The other Division 2 semifinal features Farmington Hills Harrison against East Lansing. Listen back to Saturday’s Regional final below:
The Watervliet Panthers moved to 10-0 Friday night with a 36-0 Pre-District playoff win over Schoolcraft, ending the Eagles’ season at 5-5. The shutout is the first of the year for the Panther defense, which forced two turnovers, four punts, and held Schoolcraft to under 200 total offensive yards.
After forcing a punt on the opening Eagle drive, Watervliet quarterback Zack Pickens needed one play to score, taking off on a 65-yard touchdown rush. On Watervliet’s third drive, Pickens had a 40-yard rushing score. The Eagles ate up about eight minutes on a lengthy drive which got to the red zone, but ended in an interception to Jakob Aldrich. Schoolcraft was able to force a turnover on downs twice in the first half and kept the Panthers from scoring on an untimed down to end the second quarter, keeping the game at 14-0 into halftime.
Pickens connected with Bryant Kieft on a 20-yard passing touchdown 58 seconds into the third quarter and extended the lead to 22-0 with a shovel pass to Garrett Matthews on the two-point conversion. Schoolcraft punted, but forced a quick turnover on downs and got the ball back near midfield. However, the Eagles fumbled the ball to defensive lineman Blake Kinzler. Not long after, Pickens hit Trent Boone for a 29-yard touchdown pass. The Panthers added one more score off a six-yard James Bell run.
Unofficially, Pickens was 7-16 passing for 167 yards and two touchdowns, while rushing for 179 yards with two touchdowns on 24 attempts. His scores put him at 31 passing touchdowns and 27 rushing scores on the season. Garrett Matthews had four catches for 119 yards. Schoolcraft QB Brady Flynn was 3-8 for 30 yards with one pick. Kobe Clark led the rushing at 85 yards on 21 carries. Jack Hunt was held to 32 on 14 attempts.
Watervliet advances to the district final next weekend against Delton Kellogg, who blitzed Parchment 57-0. Watervliet defeated DK (now 6-4) on the road 58-44 in week six, although of note, that 14-point deficit is the closest anyone has been this season to Watervliet. You can listen to the Watervliet/Delton Kellogg game on the Slocum Sports Network.
Listen back to Friday’s Pre-District below:
The seventh-ranked Coldwater Cardinals and Lakeshore Lancers won their Regional semifinal soccer matches Thursday at Marshall High School, propelling them to Saturday’s Regional Final at 6 p.m., which can be heard live via the Slocum Sports Network. Coldwater upset top-ranked and previous unbeaten Dexter 2-0, while Lakeshore won 2-1 in overtime against ninth-ranked Plainwell.
Coldwater and Dexter played fairly even in a scoreless first half. 59 seconds into the second half, a Coldwater corner kick found Mohamed Nagi for only the third goal surrendered all season by Dexter. The Cardinals limited Dexter’s chances the rest of the way and sealed the victory with 6:44 remaining as the other Nagi brother, Nasser, found the back of the net. Cardinal goalkeeper Balal Nasser unofficially made five saves.
Coldwater is into the Regional final for the first time in program history, improving to 21-3-1 on the season. Dexter ends the year at 21-1-0 and their loss means that none of the teams ranked #1 between the four MHSAA divisions will make it to the final eight. Of the six teams left in Division 2 following Thursday’s games, Coldwater holds the highest Coaches Association ranking at #7.
In the other semifinal, Lakeshore took the lead on a Riley Aukerman goal with 25:41 to go in the first half. Lakeshore controlled the rest of the first half, although Plainwell came out firing in the second half. A stellar diving save from Lancer sophomore goalkeeper Oli Carmody denied a Luke Morrell penalty kick midway through the second.
Eventually, the Trojan pressure was too much and they got the equalizer with 16:46 remaining when a long boot from Zakary Termeer found Morrell in the box for Luke’s 40th goal of the season. Lakeshore used a corner kick in the first two minutes of overtime to reclaim the lead, put in by freshman forward Mikey Tibbitts. The Lancers held on for the final 18 minutes to book their first final eight appearance since 1995. Lakeshore moves to 15-9-1 on the season while Plainwell ends 18-4-3.
Coldwater and Lakeshore face off Saturday at 6 p.m. in the Regional final at Marshall High School and you can listen live on the Slocum Sports Network. The winner advances to the semifinal Wednesday at Portage Northern against #8 Holland. Listen back to Thursday’s games below:
COLDWATER VS DEXTER
LAKESHORE VS PLAINWELL
The beautiful game was played in ugly conditions Tuesday as the fourth-ranked Portage Central Mustangs and Brighton Bulldogs battled in the Regional semifinal round. Fortunately, the new turf field of Portage Northern held firm through the constant downpour and Portage Central outlasted mid 40s temperatures, strong wind, and the Bulldogs for a 1-0 overtime victory.
The first half was pretty even with both squads limiting opportunities at the net. Portage Central started to control the possession more firmly in the second half, but still couldn’t score through 80 minutes of play. About two minutes into overtime, the Mustangs got a free kick about 45 yards from the net. Gunnar Fredericks put it to the near post and Michael Ketteman was there with the header with 7:43 remaining in the first overtime.
Brighton had one last hope on a free kick about 30 yards away with 10 seconds remaining in the second overtime, but Mustang goalkeeper Nick Kuppler snagged it and secured the clean sheet and victory.
Brighton finishes the season at 12-6-3. Portage Central improves to 18-2-3 and advances to the Regional final against East Kentwood, the defending Division 1 state champion. The Falcons defeated Grand Haven 2-0 in Tuesday’s other match. The final is set for 6 p.m Friday evening from Portage Northern.
Listen back to Tuesday’s game below:
Listen live online Thursday on the Slocum Sports Network to the boys soccer Regional #5 semifinals from Marshall High School. The first contest at 5 p.m. features the ninth-ranked Plainwell Trojans against the Lakeshore Lancers. The second match at 7 p.m. has the top-ranked Dexter Dreadnaughts facing the seventh-ranked Coldwater Cardinals.
#9 Plainwell is in the Regional round for the fourth consecutive season and are hoping to get beyond the Regional final for the first time in that stretch. At 18-3-3, the Wolverine Conference champions defeated Hastings (3-1), Otsego (3-2), and #20 Gull Lake (2-1) in the District round. Plainwell’s deepest run was a Division 3 state championship for coach Garry Snyder back in 2000. Their last Regional championship was in 2009.
Lakeshore is in the Regional round for the first time since 2008. The Lancers are 14-9-1 with District victories against Vicksburg (8-0), St. Joseph (2-1), and Edwardsburg (4-2). Lakeshore’s deepest run was in 1990 when they were Class B co-state champions with Mason. They also were runner-up in 1991 and 1989.
#7 Coldwater is in the Regional round for the first time in program history. They’ve also set a school record for wins this season, entering the Regional at 20-3-3. They downed Jackson Northwest (7-0), Mason (2-0), and #6 Marshall (3-2 in OT) to claim their District title. The victory over Marshall avenged two earlier regular season losses against the Redhawks.
Dexter is in the Regional round for the second consecutive year and enter as the #1 ranked team in the final Division 2 Coaches Association poll. The ranking is well-earned, as the Dreadnaughts are unbeaten at 21-0-0. The closest anyone has come to beating them was Ypsilanti, who tied them 3-3 in a game which Ypsilanti later had to forfeit. In the rest of their games, Dexter has allowed only two goals. They defeated Adrian (3-0) and #13 Tecumseh (3-0) in their District matches. They were D2 state champs in 2006 under coach Scott Forrester and were runner-up in 2007 and 2008.
Among these four teams, only Coldwater and Plainwell have met this season. Coldwater won their season opening meeting 3-1 in Portage. One week later in East Lansing, the Trojans were 4-2 victors.
Listen live online to Thursday’s semifinals on the Slocum Sports Network from Marshall High School. Plainwell and Lakeshore meet at 5 p.m. with Dexter and Coldwater set for around 7 p.m. You can also listen to Saturday’s Regional championship from Marshall at 6 p.m.
The seventh-ranked Coldwater Cardinals defeated the sixth-ranked Marshall Redhawks 3-2 Saturday in overtime for the District 19 boys soccer championship. It is the first ever district title for Coldwater, flipping the script from last season with Marshall. In 2016, Coldwater won twice in the regular season, only for the Redhawks to win in the postseason. This year, the Cardinals took the district match, despite losing twice in the regular season.
Coldwater scored the opening goal after 10:15 of play with Mohamed Nagi scoring on an assist from Jon Brownell. 94 seconds before halftime, the Redhawks found Brett Swaton off a corner kick to even it up. The game stayed locked at 1-1 until 5:05 remained in the second half.
The Cardinals took the lead on a penalty kick, set up after Marshall goalkeeper Jack Vezmar earned a yellow card on a foul in the box. Ahmed Saied put the PK to the his left post by Brandon Face to put Coldwater ahead. However, the Redhawks tied the contest with 57 seconds remaining. Someone for Marshall was able to tap it just in after a wild exchange at the goal line, including a collision for Coldwater keeper Balal Nasser. After a delay and arguments from both sides, the goal stood and the game went into overtime at 2-2.
With 5:19 left in the second overtime period, Coldwater scored what would be the game winning goal. A Nasser Nagi shot hit the post, deflecting to Nasser’s brother Mohamed for his second goal of the game and ninth of the season.
Both Coldwater and Marshall’s overall record moves to 20-3-1 following the match. Coldwater finishes with a home record of 10-0-1. It was the final match for Redhawk seniors Brandon Face, Reed Shivley, Ashton DeLong, Trace Reincke, and Ben Woodworth. Coldwater advances to the Regional Semifinal at Marshall Tuesday at 7 p.m. against top-ranked and unbeaten Dexter. Check back later to the Slocum Sports Network Sunday evening to see if we’ll be broadcasting that Regional.
Listen back to Saturday’s match below: