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BOYS SOCCER: Soccer regionals mix of usual suspects, Cinderella stories, unknowns and forfeits

| October 24, 2017 | Comments (0)

Boys soccer has reached the regional round of the postseason and will feature many enticing matchups.

But within the pairings, there is a side story of bad news for Hamtramck. After going unbeaten through the district week, the Cosmos self-reported they had used an ineligible player and had to forfeit the season, the same fate as the school’s football team.

Beyond that, Hopkins, Boyne City and Grosse Pointe South finished well under five-hundred. Detroit Western won a rare district championship for the city of Detroit, and unknowns Dowagiac, West Branch Ogemaw Heights, Farmington Harrison and Muskegon Reeths-Puffer are making rare regional appearances and seeking more postseason magic.

Deep districts caused plenty of district casualties last week, as only 36 of the 64 teams remaining in the MHSAA’s four divisions were ranked entering the state tournament, although nine other schools were formerly ranked at one point of the campaign.

Below are all of the regional semifinal matchups with picks to follow.

DIVISION 1

NO. 19 SALINE (15-3-4) VS. NO. 12 PLYMOUTH (15-4-3) AT NOVI, 5 p.m. Tuesday: Saline is a traditional top 20 team. Plymouth is led by Brooks Bennett, one of the state’s top players.

PICK: Plymouth 2-1.

DETROIT WESTERN INTERNATIONAL (17-1-2) VS. NO. 5 NOVI DETROIT CATHOLIC CENTRAL (16-2-4) AT NOVI, 7 p.m. Tuesday: Western is believed to be the first PSL school to ever win a district title. Catholic Central is clearly one of the state’s top teams, regardless of division.

PICK: Catholic Central 3-0.

NO. 14 GRAND HAVEN (15-3-3) VS. NO. 6 EAST KENTWOOD (17-4-0) AT PORTAGE NORTHERN, 5 p.m. Tuesday: East Kentwood Mr. Soccer candidate Haris Dzafic is one of the few elite players lucky enough to advance out of district play. He is the difference maker for the defending state champs.

PICK: East Kentwood 2-0

NO. 4 PORTAGE CENTRAL (17-2-3) VS. BRIGHTON AT PORTAGE NORTHERN, 7 p.m. Tuesday: Portage Central has been one of the state’s most consistent teams all season. The Mustangs will be going up against one of Michigan’s top goalkeepers, Riley Radwanski-Gallas.

PICK: Portage Central 1-0

NO. 10 ROCHESTER (15-2-4) VS. NO. 15 WALLED LAKE CENTRAL (19-1-2) AT FLINT ATWOOD STADIUM, Wednesday 4:30 p.m.: Walled Lake Central is enjoying perhaps its best-ever season. Rochester has outscored its last 10 opponents 31-4 and has played one of the toughest schedules around with a 7-2-2 record against teams that have been ranked this year.

PICK: Rochester 3-1.

GRAND BLANC (14-7-1) VS. MIDLAND DOW (21-3-1) AT FLINT ATWOOD STADIUM, Wednesday 6:30 p.m.: Traditional power Grand Blanc is still seeking its first title, while Midland Dow has recorded 10 straight shutouts as an unranked team.

PICK: Midland Dow 1-0.

TROY (12-6-2) VS. GROSSE POINTE SOUTH (8-10-3) AT BLOOMFIELD HILLS, 5 p.m. Tuesday: Troy dropped out of the top 20 three weeks ago, meaning there are no current ranked squads in this region. The Colts exercised some late-season demons by winning a deep district last week.

PICK: Troy 3-0.

STERLING HEIGHTS STEVENSON (9-8-2) VS. UTICA EISENHOWER (9-8-4) AT BLOOMFIELD HILLS, 7 p.m. Tuesday.: Both of these two teams underachieved greatly in the regular season, so an appearance in the Elite Eight would be great redemption. Only one team here has Dawsun Schrum.

PICK: Stevenson 3-2

STERLING HEIGHTS STEVENSON (9-8-2) VS. UTICA EISENHOWER (9-8-4) AT BLOOMFIELD HILLS, 7 p.m. Tuesday.: Both of these two teams underachieved greatly in the regular season, so an appearance in the Elite Eight would be great redemption for the winner. Only one team here has Dawsun Schrum.

PICK: Stevenson 3-2 (OT)

DIVISION 2

FARMINGTON HARRISON (10-6-1) VS. HAMTRAMCK (15-0-0): Just like Hamtramck’s football team, the Cosmos learned on Monday they had used an ineligible player, thus us ending a perfect campaign on the pitch without physically losing a game. Harrison will play in the regional finals for the first time.

PICK: Harrison by forfeit

NO. 17 GIBRALTAR CARLSON (18-1-1) VS. DEARBORN DIVINE CHILD AT FARMINGTON (13-4-2), 5 p.m. Wednesday: These two teams were surprises last season, with Carlson reaching the regional finals and Divine Child finishing as the state runner-up. DC dropped from the rankings a couple of weeks ago, but still has perhaps the top goalkeeper in D-2 in Evan Mazurek.

PICK: Divine Child 2-1

EAST LANSING (15-9-1) VS. NO. 15 GOODRICH (16-2-0) AT EAST LANSING, 5 p.m. Wednesday: Even in a rebuilding campaign, EL found a way to win a sixth straight district. Goodrich is enjoying one of its best seasons in school history.

PICK: Goodrich 2-1

PONTIAC NOTRE DAME PREP (8-8-3) VS. PETOSKEY (11-6-4) AT EAST LANSING, 5 p.m. Wednesday: Both of these teams fell out of the top 20 at one point this season. Strength of schedule will pay dividends for independent NDP, which played mostly D-1 schools from the OAA and MAC leagues.

PICK: Notre Dame Prep 2-1

STEVENSVILLE LAKESHORE (12-5-1) VS. NO. 9 PLAINWELL (18-3-3) AT MARSHALL, 5 p.m. Wednesday: Plainwell is one of the better defensive teams in D-2. Lakeshore wasn’t supposed to win its district.

PICK: Plainwell 3-1

COLDWATER (20-3-1) VS. DEXTER (19-0-0) AT MARSHALL, 5 p.m. Wednesday: Both of these squads have logged a lot of time in the top 20 the past few years. This might be one of the marquee matchups for regional semifinals in all divisions.

PICK: Dexter 3-2 (OT)

MUSKEGON REETHS-PUFFER (13-6-2) VS. NO. 8 HOLLAND (14-5-2) AT HOLLAND, 5 p.m. Wednesday: Holland has one of the most explosive offenses in D-2, led by Daniel Arrelano and Jose Penaloza. The Dutch should cruise.

PICK: Holland 4-1

NO. 4 GRAND RAPIDS CHRISTIAN (16-2-3) VS. NO. 2 GRAND RAPIDS FOREST HILLS NORTHERN (17-0-2) AT HOLLAND, 7 p.m. Wednesday: Pitting two top five teams from Grand Rapids should create plenty of buzz and fireworks. FHN has been ranked either No. 1 or No. 2 this whole season and was the state runner-up two years ago.

PICK: Forest Hills Northern 2-0

DIVISION 3

BROOKLYN COLUMBIA CENTRAL (11-7-3) VS. NO. 1 GROSSE ILE (25-0-0) AT DETROIT COUNTRY DAY, 5 p.m. Wednesday: Columbia Central has an explosive player in Micah Sonnenberg. Usual suspect Grosse Ile has an unbeaten squad in D-3.

PICK: Grosse Ile 3-1

NO. 5 BIRMINGHAM DETROIT COUNTRY DAY (13-4-1) VS. NO. 8 MACOMB LUTHERAN NORTH (8-8-2) AT DCD, 7 p.m. Wednesday: Detroit Country Day is one of the state’s all-time top programs and is back on the rise. Lutheran North won a tough district with three quality teams.

PICK: Country Day 3-2

FRANKENMUTH (12-6-3) VS. FLINT POWERS CATHOLIC (18-3-1) AT LANSING CATHOLIC, 5 p.m. Wednesday: Powers finished as the D-3 state runner-up last season and returned a bulk of that team, including nine starters. The Chargers are good enough to win a title this season.

PICK: Flint Powers Catholic 4-1

NO. 9 LANSING CATHOLIC (12-6-2) VS. NO. 15 FREELAND (18-4-2) AT LANSING CATHOLIC, 5 p.m. Wednesday: This is a toss-up contest, with both teams coming in with sound resumes, loaded schedules and similar talent on the field.

PICK: Freeland 2-1

DOWAGIAC UNION (13-6-2) VS. HOPKINS (5-14-2) AT GRAND RAPIDS CATHOLIC CENTRAL, 5 p.m. Wednesday: Gage Williams and Alec Sailor are quite an offensive tandem for Dowagiac, which won its first district since 2010. Hopkins is a Cinderella-type team looking for one more night of magic.

PICK: Dowagiac 5-1

NO. 4 GRAND RAPIDS SOUTH CHRISTIAN (14-4-2) VS. NO. 2 HUDSONVILLE UNITY CHRISTIAN (18-0-4) AT GRAND RAPIDS CC, 7 p.m. Wednesday: A pair of top 5 teams will meet up for what could be one of the top games in the D-3 postseason. Overtime should be expected.

PICK: Unity Christian 2-1 (OT)

WEST BRANCH OGEMAW HEIGHTS (15-5-1) VS. BIG RAPIDS (18-7) AT CLARE, 6 p.m. Wednesday: Two unranked teams with quality records could set the stage for a classic. Ogemaw Heights is enjoying its first district and trip to the regionals. The Falcons’ dream season continues.

PICK: Ogmaw Heights 2-1

NO. 16 LUDINGTON (16-3-1) VS. BOYNE CITY (6-10-4) AT CLARE, 8 p.m. Wednesday: Ludington has a long history of winning soccer districts, while its opponent has only six wins heading into regional play.

PICK: Ludington 4-0

DIVISION 4

NO. 6 HILLSDALE ACADEMY (20-1-1) VS. NO. 5 ANN ARBOR GREENHILLS (15-4-1) AT MADISON HEGHTS BSIHOP FOLEY, 5:30 p.m. Wednesday: Hillsdale Academy is in the midst of its best season of record. Greenhills reached the Final Four last season and has played a brutally tough schedule.

PICK: Greenhills 3-2

NO. 13 MONROE ST. MARY CATHOLIC CENTRAL (19-6-0) VS. MADISON HEIGHTS BISHOP FOLEY CATHOLIC (15-5-2) AT FOLEY, 7:30 p.m. Wednesday: For those who don’t know St. Mary CC’s super sophomore MF Zachary Cepo, an All-State First Team pick as a freshman, they certainly will after this postseason.

AUBURN HILLS OAKLAND CHRISTIAN (11-8-3) VS. CAPAC (9-9-1) AT GOODRICH, 5:30 p.m. Wednesday: Despite dropping from the top-20 last week, Oakland Christian finished second in the MIAC-Blue this season and has played a rugged D-4 schedule. Capac is an up-and-coming program that is less than a decade old.

PICK: Oakland Christian 4-1

SAGINAW VALLEY LUTHERAN (14-6-1) VS. BURTON GENESEE CHRISTIAN (14-4-4): Two-time defending state champion Genesee Christian graduated five All-State players. As all quality programs do, the Soldiers reloaded. Onward Christian Solders.

PICK: Genesee Christian 2-0

NO. 11 HARTFORD VS. NO. 10 WYOMING POTTER’S HOUSE CHRISTIAN AT HOPE COLLEGE, 6 p.m. Wednesday: Hartford has one of the best D-4 combos in William Martinez and Nick Pultz.

PICK: Hartford 3-2

MARCELLUS HOWARDSVILLE CHRISTIAN (19-0-2) VS. KALMAZOO HACKETT CATHOLIC (17-1-3) AT HOPE COLLEGE, 6 p.m. Wednesday: Tiny Howardsville Christian is enjoying its best season to date. Meanwhile, Hackett was state runner-up two years ago and has a loaded junior class.

PICK: Hackett 2-1

NO. 3 MUSKEGON WESTERN MICHIGAN CHRISTIAN (17-3-0) CHRISTIAN VS. NO. 8 BUCKLEY (18-1-3) AT CADILLAC, 5 p.m. Wednesday: MWMC already knocked off top-ranked Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian and won one of the state’s tougher D-4 districts. Buckley is having a fine campaign in its ownright and has many athletes that were part of the school’s Class D state runner-up basketball team from last winter.

PICK: Western Michigan Christian 3-2

ROSCOMMON (17-5-2) VS. NO. 2 LELAND (22-1-0) AT CADILLAC, 7 p.m. Wednesday: Unranked Roscommon is enjoying its best season since finishing as the D-3 state runner-up in 2006. Leland is ranked second with only one loss against D-4 schools. Let the Comets magic continue.

PICK: Leland 3-2

(Dan Stickradt is a 24-year veteran sportswriter in Michigan, specializing in prep and club soccer. He can be reached via email at dan.stickradt@northoaklandsports.com or by cell at (248) 884-1051. Follow on Twitter @LocalSportsFans)

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About Dan Stickradt: DAN STICKRADT | SENIOR EDITOR dan.stickradt@northoaklandsports.com View author profile.

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