By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
This spring's MHSAA Girls Soccer Tournament will include 450 schools playing across four divisions beginning later this month.
Three decades ago, girls soccer was just getting started in Michigan. But growth came quickly: In 1987, after four seasons awarding one "open class" champion, Salem and Saginaw Eisenhower became the first multiple winners to emerge from an expanded two-class tournament.
Salem, which since has finished runner-up in 1995, won the Class A championship 2-1 over Livonia Churchill. Churchill had won the last "open class" championship the year before and also fell 2-1, in overtime, in 1988 to Canton.
Eisenhower, which had finished runner-up in the first MHSAA Final in 1983, beat Plainwell 3-2 in the first Class B championship game. The title was among final crowning achievements for Eisenhower, which closed after the 1987-88 school year and joined with the also-closing Saginaw MacArthur to form Saginaw Heritage the following fall.
Plainwell also would fall in the 1988 Class B Final, 4-1 to Madison Heights Bishop Foley, but won the Division 2 title in 2011 and finished runner-up in 2012. Heritage won the Division 1 championship in 2002.
The MHSAA split girls soccer from two classes into three divisions in 1998 and then moved to the current four-division format in 2000.
PHOTOS: (Top) Saginaw Eisenhower players celebrate after their 3-2 win over Plainwell in the 1987 Class B Final. (Middle) Salem players surround coach Ken Johnson and their newly-earned Class A title trophy after winning 2-1 over Livonia Churchill.