Grosse Ile soccer

Boys Soccer

Preview: 1st-Time Finalists, D3 Rematch Among Saturday Storylines

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

November 5, 2021

Three teams will make their first MHSAA Boys Soccer Finals appearances Saturday, and we’re guaranteed a first-time champion in Division 4. Three more finalists are seeking to win their first Finals title in a decade or longer.

And then there’s the Division 3 Final, where the two contenders couldn’t be more familiar with each other. Grosse Ile has won two straight championships, both times defeating Grand Rapids South Christian, and they’ll meet for a third-straight title-deciding match Saturday at Comstock Park.

Here’s a look at Saturday’s full schedule:

NOVI
Division 1: New Baltimore Anchor Bay (22-1-1) vs Okemos (19-0-4), noon
Division 4: Clarkston Everest Collegiate (18-2-4) vs Wyoming Potter's House (23-3-1), 3 p.m.

COMSTOCK PARK
Division 2: Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice (10-6-4) vs Grand Rapids Christian (15-7-2), noon
Division 3: Grosse Ile (21-1-1) vs Grand Rapids South Christian (21-0-3), 3 p.m.

All of Saturday’s Finals will be broadcast live and viewable with subscription on MHSAA.tv, with audio available on MHSAANetwork.com. See below for glances at all eight finalists, and come back to Second Half later Saturday for coverage of all four championship games. (The Michigan Power Rating noted below is derived from a team's success and strength of schedule and was used to seed Districts at the start of the postseason. The MPRs listed were where teams ranked at the start of District play. Rankings were by the Michigan High School Soccer Coaches Association in its final weekly poll.)

DIVISION 1

NEW BALTIMORE ANCHOR BAY
Record/rank: 22-1-1, No. 3
Michigan Power Rating: No. 9
Coach: Nate Williams, 10th season (108-63-19)
League finish: First in Macomb Area Conference Red
Championship history: Has never played in an MHSAA Final.
Players to watch: Evan Linsley, sr. GK (0.97 goals-against average, 6 shutouts); Jake Ursitti, sr. F (21 goals, 8 assists); Carson Hodgson, sr. M (13 goals, 29 assists); Tanner Hodgson, sr. M (21 goals, 17 assists).
Outlook: Bringing Anchor Bay to its first MHSAA Final in this sport is a crowning achievement for a group of 16 seniors, including nine who start. But they have a chance to accomplish an even greater feat. The Tars earned it in part by handing top-ranked Troy its only loss in last week’s Regional Final, and Anchor Bay’s only defeat this fall came against No. 15 Macomb Dakota – a loss then avenged in the District Final. Tanner Hodgson made the all-state first team and Carson Hodgson and Linsley made the second team in 2020 when the team reached the Regional Finals and lost in a shootout.

OKEMOS
Record/rank:
 19-0-4, No. 4
Michigan Power Rating: No. 4
Coach: Brian Guggemos, 20th season (290-83-43)
League finish: First in Capital Area Activities Conference Blue
Championship history: Division 1 champion 2004, Class B-C champion 1984.
Players to watch: Sawyer Van Antwerp, jr. GK (0.46 goals-against average, 10.5 shutouts); Ben Hussey, sr. M (4 goals, 5 assists); Jack Guggemos, sr. F (45 goals, 14 assists); Owen Brewer, sr. F (19 goals, 19 assists).
Outlook: Okemos won its first Regional title since 2004 after claiming a third-straight District trophy and a league championship ahead of No. 11 East Lansing and Division 2 No. 12 DeWitt. Okemos defeated the Trojans, No. 8 East Kentwood and No. 5 Northville on the way to the championship match. The ties came early against East Lansing and Rochester Hills Stoney Creek and then at the end of September against Division 2 finalist Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice and Troy. Eight seniors start. Jack Guggemos set the school record for goals this fall after making the all-state first team last season, and Hussey earned an all-state honorable mention a year ago.

DIVISION 2

BLOOMFIELD HILLS BROTHER RICE
Record/rank:
 10-6-4, unranked 
Michigan Power Rating: No. 32 
Coach: Danny Price, third season (19-27-5)
League finish: Fourth in Detroit Catholic League Central
Championship history: Two MHSAA titles (most recent 2009), three runner-up finishes.
Players to watch: Giuliano Denipoti, sr. F (12 goals), Enzo Bordogna, jr. D (3 goals, 15 assists), Josh Copeland, jr. M (4 goals, 5 assists), Henry Allen, jr. GK (1.55 goals-against average).
Outlook: Brother Rice has found its stride under Price this season, and especially over the last three weeks after coming into the playoffs on an 0-3-1 trip – although that draw was against Division 1 finalist Okemos. The Warriors also had shown their potential with regular-season wins over Detroit Catholic Central and Detroit Country Day, and a 3-1 District Final victory over No. 5 Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood made a big wave in the bracket. Rice defeated No. 12 DeWitt in a shootout Wednesday to advance to this weekend. The future should be bright as well with only two seniors among 11 players who have scored for the team this fall.

GRAND RAPIDS CHRISTIAN
Record/rank: 
16-7-2, No. 13
Michigan Power Rating: No. 20
Coach: Aric Dershem, second season (28-10-2)
League finish: Second in Ottawa-Kent Conference White
Championship history: Division 2 champion 1998 and 2001.
Players to watch: Nicholas Cassiday, sr. M (36 goals, 10 assists); Benjamin Kuiper, sr. F (16 goals, 5 assists); Hans Pruis, sr. F (10 goals, 9 assists); Xander Scofield, jr. GK (1.94 goals-against average, 6 shutouts).
Outlook: Grand Rapids Christian won its first Regional title since that last Division 2 championship run, despite entering the postseason off a 1-4-1 two-week span. The Eagles have outscored their six tournament opponents by a combined 27-4, upsetting top-ranked and reigning champion Richland Gull Lake 2-1 in the Semifinal and also defeating No. 8 Petoskey, No. 9 Spring Lake and No. 14 East Grand Rapids along the way. Cassiday made the all-state Dream Team last season, while senior defender Eli Leegwater and junior midfielder Jonathan Clarkin also are back in the lineup after earning all-state honorable mentions in 2020.

DIVISION 3

GRAND RAPIDS SOUTH CHRISTIAN
Record/rank:
21-0-3, No. 5  
Michigan Power Rating: No. 2
Coach: Joel Vande Kopple, first season (21-0-3)
League finish: First in O-K Gold
Championship history: Three MHSAA titles (most recent 2015), four runner-up finishes.
Players to watch: Levi DeRuiter, sr. M (7 goals, 18 assists); Diego Tiscareno, sr. M (13 goals, 3 assists); Sam Medendorp, jr. F (12 goals, 6 assists); Jordan Gabrielse, sr. F (12 goals, 5 assists).
Outlook: South Christian returns for its third-straight try for the Division 3 title after graduating five players who earned all-state recognition in 2020. The Sailors did return DeRuiter, who earned an honorable mention a year ago, and Vande Kopple took over the program with more than 200 career wins and having led Lansing Christian to the 2013 Division 4 championship. The Sailors have defeated No. 1 Holland Christian, No. 4 Elk Rapids and No. 12 Grand Rapids Catholic Central during their tournament run and total have won 16 straight matches.

GROSSE ILE
Record/rank:
21-1-1, No. 2 
Michigan Power Rating: No. 5
Coach: Jon Evans, sixth season (136-7-10)
League finish: First in Huron League
Championship history: Division 3 champions 2002, 2019 and 2020; runner-up 2018.
Players to watch: Hayden Watson, jr. GK (13 shutouts), Joe Molnar, jr. M (24 goals, 8 assists), Anthony Shaheen, sr. F (21 goals, 6 assists), Jon Duke, sr. M (16 goals, 9 assists); Cannon Kawadri, jr. M (12 goals, 6 assists).
Outlook: Grosse Ile is making its fourth-straight trip to the championship match with a lot of important players from last season’s run again leading the way. Duke, Kawadri and Watson all made the all-state first team in 2020, while sophomore defender Ali Khaled (2 goals/19 assists) and senior defender Clayton Lafayette (4 goals/14 assists) made the third team and senior defender Ty Garza (8 goals/8 assists) earned an honorable mention. The only loss this fall came in the regular-season finale to Division 1 Brownstown Woodhaven, and the Red Devils rebounded to outscore their five playoff opponents by a combined 23-5.

DIVISION 4

CLARKSTON EVEREST COLLEGIATE
Record/rank:
17-2-4, No. 5 
Michigan Power Rating: No. 11
Coach: John Haezebrouck, 11th season (94-86-21)
League finish: First in Detroit Catholic League Intersectional #2
Championship history: Has never played in an MHSAA Final.
Players to watch: Lucas Cross, sr. F/M (29 goals, 29 assists); Mark Cross, fr. F (24 goals, 7 assists); Luke Walker jr. M/D (6 goals, 17 assists); Tom Williams, jr. GK (1.03 goals-against average, 7 shutouts).
Outlook: Haezebrouck has built Everest from a program finishing under .500 five of his first six seasons to one that is coming off its third-straight Regional title. The Mountaineers got past league rival and No. 4-ranked Royal Oak Shrine Catholic in the District Final before winning Regional matches against No. 11 Lansing Christian and No. 10 Bad Axe. The only losses came to Shrine in their first of three meetings Sept. 2 and 1-0 to Division 3 No. 10 Pontiac Notre Dame Prep. Lucas Cross made the all-state first team in 2020 and Walker made the second. Sophomore forward Tito Fortuny had added nine more goals heading into this week.

WYOMING POTTER’S HOUSE
Record/rank:
23-3-1, No. 6
Michigan Power Rating: No. 8
Coach: Mike Colago, third season (46-12-3)
League finish: First in Alliance League
Championship history: Has never played in an MHSAA Final.
Players to watch: Jonathan Stout, sr. F (26 goals, 9 assists); Seth Hoeksema, sr. GK (0.76 goals-against average, 11 shutouts); Jok Nhial, sr. F (9 goals, 6 assists); Yosia Mukanda, sr. M (24 goals, 5 assists).
Outlook: Potter’s House has reached the season’s final week for the first time after navigating a tournament path that included No. 2 Grandville Calvin Christian and saw the Pumas win three one-goal games and their District opener in a shootout. Stout made the all-state first team last season and Hoeksema and Nhial earned honorable mentions, and they lead a starting lineup featuring six seniors total. Junior midfielder Jacob Caballero (3 goals/8 assists) also had reached double-digit points entering the week, and senior forward Daniel Fesahaye (5 goals/4 assists) and junior midfielder Rukundo Masengesho (3 goals/5 assists) were closing in.

PHOTO Grosse Ile's Jon Duke (4), here controlling possession during last season's Division 3 Final, returns Saturday hoping to help his team to a three-peat.