TOP BOYS SOCCER TEAMS: Who will run the gauntlet in this shortened season?

| September 18, 2020 | Comments (0)

Traverse City West, Salem, Brighton, Mattawan,

Anchor Bay are Michigan’s top prep teams

— Sept. 18, 2020



Twitter: @LocalSportsFans

A simple task you say?

Cram as many games as possible into six short weeks — eight weeks for teams in northern Michigan — in order to try to win a league championship, then try to run the gauntlet over 19 days with hopes of winning a district, regional and state title.

Sound simple enough?

There are many teams in each division that are eyeing such moments of glory and only just a handful will be lucky enough to grab conference, district, regional and state titles in the end of this dramatic, shortened season.

What leads to even more wackiness already is that there really isn’t any clear-cut favorites in Michigan this year. In Division 1, there are 25-30 teams who have chances of reaching the Final Four, as long as they can escape some extremely difficult districts loaded with power schools — another difficult task as the MHSAA district groups are all set.

While that list of true state title contenders is a little shorter in Division 2, Division 3 and Division 4, there are not any schools considered a lock in those divisions — not by any stretch. Most games including respectable programs will be a mystery and has during the opening weeks of the season.

After a couple of weeks of games — schools in northern Michigan have actually played games since Aug. 21 and lower Michigan Sept. 8 — and the picture is still somewhat muddy. The power teams in the state are all beating each other up with one-goal games and draws.

It is truly anyone’s guess.

It will be an interesting finish to the regular season before the state tournament. Here is a list of some of the state’s top teams so far with last season’s record in parenthesis.

This list will likely change on a weekly if not daily basis.

1. TRAVERSE CITY WEST (18-5-2): After starting last season 1-4-1, the Titans ran through a 17-game unbeaten streak and through a string of postseason upsets until reaching the Division 1 title game for the first time since 2007. West fell in overtime to Troy Athens (4-1). This year despite dropping their opener in a preseason tournament, the Titans have started 9-1 behind eight returning starters and 15 total returning players. Senior M/F Tony Gallegos (All-State Second Team), senior D Gavin Michael, senior G Blade Kalbfleisch (All-State Honorable Mention), junior F Colin Blackport (Division I recruit), senior D Finn Durbin, junior D Josh Hirschenberger, senior M Kaden Ales and senior M Dune Jung are returning starters. This team won’t sneak up on anybody this year. The Titans are going after their 11th straight Big North Conference title and more.

2. SALEM (15-7-3): Most of Salem’s roster that reached the D-1 Final Four last season is back. Junior forward Anthony Deruvo (All-State Honorable Mention) is on an offensive tear and senior D/F Nolan Chaput (All-State Honorable Mention) is a versatile athlete who can play anywhere. Senior M Andrew Schwartz, junior D Jacob Grieb and senior M John Soltis are all back after receiving various postseason honors last year. Sophomore M Griffin Ellis leads the newcomers.

3. BRIGHTON (12-5-1): After losing in the first round of D-1 districts to Detroit Catholic Central last season (1-0), Brighton has started 5-1-1. Senior D Josh Adam has committed to Michigan State and is a Mr. Soccer candidate as the state’s top defensive player. Senior F/M Nick Cassar is coming off an injury-plagued season and is being recruited by D-I and D-II schools. Senior G Hagan Carriere is a full-time starter this year and senior F Seth Bedford is a fourth-year player and another D-I and D-II recruit. Junior F/M Michael Kramer is another high-level player.

4. MATTAWAN (19-4-3): Never have the 2016 Division 2 state champions had a senior class quite like this in its history. The only problem for Mattawan is that the Wildcats are now up in Division 1 this season. Still expect to see this talented team of future college players capable of making a deep run with 10 starters back. Senior F Josh Filiputti (All-State First Team) is a Mr. Soccer candidate after scoring 24 goals with 17 assists, while running mate senior M Connor Burkett (All-State First Team) collected 22 goals and 14 assists for a Final Four team a year ago. Senior G Carson Foor (All-State Third Team), senior M Chad Harrison (All-State Third Team) and senior D Tommy Martinec are all on radars of D-I, D-II, D-III and NAIA schools for a side that started 4-1-0.

5. NEW BALTIMORE ANCHOR BAY (16-1-2): The Tars’ only loss last season came against fellow Top 15-ranked rival Clinton Township Chippewa Valley in the district finals. This year a 4-0-0 start with a 20-1 scoring edge has this team thinking big. Senior F Ethan Welcher (All-State Honorable Mention) has college suitors of various sizes, while junior midfielders Tanner Hodgson and Connor Hodgson are also college recruits. Senior ZacK Slevak (D), Evan Linsley (G, 11 shutouts), senior Ryan Glinzki (M), junior Tommy Stackpoole (D), junior Tommy Mittelstadt (F) and senior Kian Collins (D). Junior Kiet Thammavongsa (D) is the top newcomer.

6. NOVI DETROIT CATHOLIC CENTRAL (9-10-4): Last season’s record is deceiving because the Shamrocks had to forfeit seven games right before the tournament when administration found out it had used an ineligible player. The Shamrocks on the field were actually 16-3-4 and reached the D-1 regional finals before falling to Novi. Senior F/M Clay Moskovic (All-State Second Team) and junior M Vance Stockton (All-State Third Team) are two dynamic players. Senior M Chad Ewing, senior D/M Jake Lueker, senior G John Drowning, senior M Will Matta and senior D/F Ruddle Harris all return. Freshman Xander Heisch (G) and Ali Jaffer (M/F) are future standouts and sophomore D Drew Pierson comes over from the Wolves Academy.

7. RICHLAND GULL LAKE (17-1-1): After reaching the D-2 state semifinals in 2018 and spending half of the 2019 campaign ranked No. 1 in D-2, the Blue Devils were upset in the district semifinals to Coldwater last season (4-3). Mr. Soccer candidate Eron Sylejmani has earned All-State honors the last three years and recently committed to Western Michigan after multiple D-I offers. Junior M AJ Boucher (All-State Honorable Mention) is a dynamic playmaker and senior backs Riley Folk and Isaac Lapekas are both physical players who are also on college radars. Junior F Tyler Corstange also returns, while junior M DeWitt Renwick, sophomores Dominic Roudabush (M) and Jasek Zielaskowski (D) and freshman Ryker Corstange (F) have all made impacts in a 5-0-0 start.

8. TROY ATHENS (23-2-1): Despite losing 14 players to graduation from their D-1 state championship team, the Red Hawks are 5-1-1 to open the campaign. Senior F and Dream Team candidate TJ Renaud (All-State First Team), senior D Jack Musto, junior F Ryan Gruca and Anthony Kapala all started many games last season, while senior M/D Zach Hanoosh and junior G Matt Gawthrop were backups. Senior M Adrian Lekocaj returns from the Vardar Academy after playing varsity for Athens two years ago.

9. ANN ARBOR PIONEER (17-2-4): Even though this side never cracked the top 15 rankings last season, they still finished second in the loaded SEC Red Division, captured a district crown and reached the D-1 regional finals. The Pioneers won’t be sneaking up on anyone this season. Senior M Andrew Lee (All-State Honorable Mention), senior D James Cameron, senior D/M Jack Yerkes, senior M Oliver Snelling and junior M Dan McDonough all return. Sophomore G Zach Wilhem and junior F Luca Guigliano are the top newcomers.

10. GRAND BLANC (15-4-4): With somewhat of a young team, the Bobcats still captured their 35th league title and 29th district crown last season. Grand Blanc returns several key components from last year’s Saginaw Valley League championship squad, most notably senior D Andrew Holley (All-State Second Team). Senior F Andrew Maxwell, senior D/M Braden Gervers and senior D Ryan Raybuck also return. A 5-0-0 start with a 26-2 scoring edge shows the Bobcats are back on the prowl for some more championship hardware.

11. ANN ARBOR SKYLINE (14-5-5): Skyline captured its second state title in the last decade in 2018 before falling in the district semifinals to Pioneer last season. This year the Eagles boast 17 seniors on the roster. Senior M Gabe Kellman and senior D Zack Kubisiak are fourth-year players and senior F Tyler Warren is a dangerous target. Seniors Paul Fontana (M), Peter Pecotis (M/F), Kyan Steudle (M) and Caleb Sauers (D/M) are some of Skyline’s top talents. Sophomore Conner Alderman (D/M) is a quality newcomer.

12. HOLLAND (11-10-1): After finishing third in the OK Conference-Green and losing in the district finals to Byron Center with a team loaded with underclassmen, Holland is back into the fold. The 2017 Division 2 state champions have begun 7-0-0 with a 35-4 scoring edge. Junior F Abraham Arrelano (All-State Honorable Mention), junior F/M Levi Honderd, junior M Jack Klomparens, junior F Luis Jiminez, junior M/F Isaiah Arredondo, senior M Christian Ruiz and junior M Bretton Timmer have led the offensive barrage. Sophomore G Paul Klomparens has been solid in front of senior D Christian Diaz and juniors backs Jackson VanHekken, Chandler DeWitt and Samuel Jiminez.

13. CANTON (11-8-4): Its the same old story for the Chiefs, who are 2-1 in D-1 state title games this past decade and 3-1 overall in four trips. If Canton can perform well in the brutal KLAA-West and win one of the state’s toughest districts regardless of division than this team should be able to advance far into the tournament. Senior M/F Nick Rockafellow (All-State Second Team) is one of the state’s better talents and senior D Logan Hammond is a lock-down defender. Junior M Gavin Nesbitt, senior F Kaelen Flowers and senior G Juster Heers are all quality players that could end up on college rosters in the future.

14. ST. JOSEPH (16-6-1): Perhaps this could be one of St. Joseph’s best overall teams and the 3-2-0 start includes losses to Mattawan and Holland, two teams above the Bears on this list. Junior M/F Seth Walters (All-State Honorable Mention), sophomore D Christian Shannon, junior F Jacob Scouler (All-State Second Team), senior F/M Jack Pender, senior D Cameron Dirlam and senior D/F Lars Razor are all back. Sophomore M Owen Mohohan leads the newcomers. This is probably the school’s best chance of reaching the finals since the Bears finished as the state runner-up back in 1992.

15. HOLT (13-4-3): A Top 15 program in D-1 the last two years, Holt reinstated its program in early September after originally cancelling fall sports. That’s good news for senior G Zac Kelly (All-State First Team), who recently committed to Michigan State and is considered Michigan’s premier keeper. Senior F Caleb Schray, junior M Guershom Sylvan, senior M Juan Carlos, junior M/D Max Hornay, junior D Timmy Vino and senior F Jalen Williams also return which should make this team dangerous once again. The Rams started 3-0-1 after seeing three weeks of games cancelled.

16. CLARKSTON (13-4-2): Winners of back-to-back district titles, the Wolves did so with a young team last autumn. This year Clarkston is in contention for the OAA Red Division title. Seniors Brendan Willis (G), Nick Merritt (F), and Lochlan Gray (D) all return, while juniors Dylan Walker (M), Jacob Murray (D/M), Tyler Spitzer (M/D) and Nathan Thomas (M) help lead the way. Sophomores Richie Ludwig (M) and Connor Laming (M) started last season as well, while Ludwig is one of the state’s top sophomores. Clarkston was one of two teams to actually beat last year’s D-1 state champion Troy Athens.

17. TROY (14-5-1): The Colts finished second in the OAA Red Division last season behind Athens and figure to be a side that could challenge this season. Senior M Andrew Howard (All-State Honorable Mention), senior D Ryan Peluso, senior M Chris Worrell, junior M Ryan Decker, senior F Adrian Kijek and senior D Ian Didaleusky are returning starters, while junior D J.D. Armstrong, sophomore M John Palomino and senior M Yourself Turk all paid ample minutes. Sophomore newcomers Nick Worrell (M), Lukas Laroguette (D), Kai Downing (D) and Mark Linsey (M) have helped.

18. OKEMOS (19-2-0): Okemos took over the No. 1 spot in the Division 1 rankings late in the regular season last October and advanced to the regional finals before being upset by Traverse City West in the regional finals (1-0). There is still some quality holdover talent that is part of a 2-1-1 start. Junior M Jack Guggemos, senior keepers Aiden Hanchett and Alex Touten, junior F Owen Brewer, junior D/M Aidan Antcliff, junior D Owen Zimmerman, senior F Ian Buckwalker and sophomore M Leo Arano form a solid core.

19. LIVONIA STEVENSON (14-3-3): The heavy favorites in the KLAA-East Division this year are also capable of making a deep run if the Spartans can escape the district rounds. Senior F Nick Lema is soaring in bunches and senior G Brenden Ware has committed to Schoolcraft. Sophomore F Nico Bunda and seniors Alec Alaouieh (F), senior Drake Van Dike (M) and Josh Tragge (M) are all making an impact.

20. NOVI (20-2-2): One of the best seasons for KLAA champion Novi stalled in the state semifinals last season after Traverse City West rallied for a 3-2 victory. The Wildcats are retooling with a much younger squad but are still talented. Senior D Miles Brown, senior F/M Matthew Pacas-McCarthy, senior D Ben Prisby, senior M/F Odim Lim, senior D Aoi Kudo, junior D Savorer Setti and junior D Koshiro Kuroiwa all return, while sophomore G Ryan Zotkovich moves from understudy to starter and is one of the better keepers around. Sophomore F Josh Han and the freshmen trio of Yoto Shiwa (M), Josh La (D) and Garen Vartanian (M) lead the newcomers.

21. DEXTER (13-2-6): A longtime quality program in Division 2, Dexter moved up to D-1 last season and still faired well. With senior F Hayden Newton (All-State Second Team), who scored over 40 goals the last two years and is a Dream Team caliber talent, the Dreadnaughts will be a tough out. Junior G Wiley Smith is a standout, junior D/M Andrew Scherer, senior M/F Nick Williamson, junior D Will Palazoolo and junior D/M Ben Pritchard all return. Freshman prospect JP Assenmacher has made an immediate impact up top for a team that started 4-0-1.

22. LINDEN (18-3-0): Both last year when the Eagles shared the Flint Metro League title and this year’s 6-0-0 start there is a common trait — Linden is beating other teams mostly by wide margins (27-5 margin so far). With a bulk of their lineup back, this could be a special season for the Eagles. Seniors Hunter Hall (D/M, All-State Honorable Mention), Ian Downarowicz (G, All-State Third Team), Alex Smith (M/F) and Brendan Johnson (M/D) are the leaders of this band. Junior D Colin Love, junior M Aidan Miller (All-State Honorable Mention) and sophomores Braden Shingleton (F), Bishop Lawrence (M) and Devin Nowak (M) all hope to take this team deep into the postseason.

23. FENTON (16-6-1): After fielding one of its better teams last season where the Tigers reached the Division 2 Final Four, Fenton is now up in Division 1 and in a district with state powers Grand Blanc, Okemos and fellow D-1 newbie East Lansing. Tri-champs of the Flint Metro League last year, Fenton still has a quality roster intact led by seniors Andrew Hutchens (D, All-State Second Team), Max Guerra (D, All-State Honorable Mention) and Jimmy Myers (M) and juniors Calvin Curtis (D, All-State Honorable Mention), Will Dickens (D/M), Ben Chappie (F), Harrison Vincil (F), Austin Ames (M), Chase Coleman (M) and Desmond Coughlin. Fenton has also played four different keepers in games this season.

24. BIRMINGHAM DETROIT COUNTRY DAY (18-5-2): The 2018 Division 2 state champs now 15 overall state titles and last year reached the D-2 regional finals. Seniors Ryan Tang (All-State Second Team) and Josh Gust (All-State Third Team) form a dynamite tandem up top, while seniors Tyler Foulk (M, All-State Honorable Mention), Justin Guo (M), Connor Shi (M/D) and Dillon Mavunga (D) also return along with junior D Connor Adams. Sophomore M Ben Farah and freshmen twins Andrew Brentano and Steven Brentano will help in the midfield. This school still has several students on MLS Academy club programs or DCD would be much higher.

25. SOUTH LYON (10-3-5): The defending Lakes Valley Conference champions put together one of its best seasons to date last year and reached the D-1 district finals before falling to Detroit Catholic Central. Senior F Jack Voight is one of the state’s better players and has an impressive club resume. Senior G Shane Marinkovich, junior D Brennan McGillen, junior D Josh MAson, junior D/M Brayden Demay, senior D  Dylan Franges, senior M Jean Gamboa and junior F Cade White hope to make this a memorable season. Freshman F Jakey Hemker should help. The Lions started 5-0-0 with their veteran group.

26. DEWITT (14-4-4): After defeating longtime nemesis East Lansing in the D-2 district finals last year, DeWitt lost to eventual state semifinalist Mattawan in the regional semifinals. Starting 3-2-1, DeWitt is a team capable of making a run in D-2. Senior M/F Landon Hungerford (All-State First Team) is one of the state’s better seniors, while senior M Victor Touney (All-State Second Team) is also a college prospect. Seniors Patrick Woodbury (G), Ethan Anderson (D) and Zack Stephen (M), junior M/F Austin Dreasky and sophomores Lucas Perez (F) and Caiden McDonald (G/D) also contribute.

27. BERKLEY (15-4-4): Over the past decade, Berkley has cemented itself as a steady top 20 team in Division 1 and that could continue this year. The Bears compete in the rugged OAA but only return four starters  which landed Senior D/M Jacob Schleicher is a Dream Team-level player and Division I college recruit, while senior F Mico Rubio (All-State Second Team), senior M TJ Withrow and senior M Grant Hockridge are all back after strong seasons last year.

28. BIRMINGHAM SEAHOLM (14-4-1): The Maples have reached the district finals the past three years and even won the OAA White Division title last year in the final week after four teams were in the hunt. Seaholm earned its promotion to the OAA-Red and has started 2-1-2 in a tough schedule. Senior F Cole Karmanos (All-State Third Team) is a dynamic player who leads the way. Seniors  Cash Ericson (M), Sam Chaney (M/F), Dylan Genzlinger (F) and Gabe Karamanian (M) form a solid core. Senior G Leo Adams is steady between the pipes.

29. LAKE ORION (13-7-1): The Dragons entered the final week of the OAA White Division season in contention before finishing fourth last year. This year Lake Orion will challenge again in a wide-open race. Senior G Jack Genter, senior M Mike Bogar (Division II and III recruit), sophomore D Steve Jakubuski, junior F/M Jacob Lee and senior M Caden Bozigar all return. Senior D/F Nick Fisher, who played with Vardar Academy for two years before taking last year off from soccer altogether, is a difference maker.

30. SALINE (15-3-5): Another team that graduated some key components but will still field a strong side with the next man up mentality. The Hornets still have plenty of talented players that will keep them in contention for another SEC Red Division crown and more if they can escape one of the state’s better districts. Sophomore F Christian Rossi is an explosive player who earned some honors as a freshmen, senior F/M Brayden Stavros, senior M Dominic Rossi, senior D Zack Mitzel and senior D Jaden Pickett are all slated for big seasons.

31. UTICA EISENHOWER (13-5-2): Always a contender in the MAC Red Division the Eagles shared the honor with Chippewa Valley last year. Senior backstop Evan DeJong is a top-10 keeper, while seniors Liam Smith (F), Luke Drzewiecki (D), Devin White (F) and Dominic Nalou (F) and juniors all return. Juniors Julien Lee (M), Gjon Melakuqi (F), Evan Jakuc (M) and Zach Hoyumpa (D) are also back in uniform.

32. WARREN DELASALLE (11-8-4): This side has captured districts in 28 of the past 31 seasons and has some talent waiting in the wings to help continue that tradition. Seniors Spencer LeBeau, CJ Fritz (F), Gabriel Lueck (D), Hayden Graham (D), Matt Rafferty (D/M), Aidan Dankanics (D) and Mark Tungul (M) are some of the many players that hope to keep the Pilots in the air soaring. DeLaSalle started the year 5-2-1.

33. ROCKFORD (14-4-1): Quality programs can regroup after losing seven all-league players. Rockford is such a team but having reloaded with several quality players waiting in the wings and part of a 3-0-1 start. Junior M/F Aaron Woods, senior D Andrew Woods, junior D Danny Leja, junior M/F Jaden Leja, junior D Alex Ducey, senior M Owen Smith and senior M/F Gage Martin all return. Sophomores Matthew Corrigan (G), Caiden Eklund (F), Brenden Jurmu (D) and Evan McCall (M) lead a talented cast of newcomers.

34. ROCHESTER (13-6-0): The Falcons cracked the D-1 Top 15 last season and wound up second in the OAA White Division. Rochester may be young but plays a great possession game and could emerge as a contender later this season. Senior F Carlito Ankawi, senior F Eli Luca, senior D Ben Morin, junior D Griffin Chamberlin, senior M/F Drew Simpson, sophomore D Logan Kennedy, sophomore D/M Dylan Davis and sophomore G Tommy Farrell all played minutes last season. Senior M Annan Hussein played with Vardar Academy the last three years, junior D Dominic Ross and Poland-transplant Wojciech Pytel (M, 6-foot-5) lead a talented group of newcomers.

35. ROCHESTER ADAMS (8-12-2): The Highlanders only won five games in the regular season last fall during a rebuilding year before maturing enough to surprise and win one of the toughest district fields. This year Adams will be much more seasoned. Junior F Merrick Delvin (All-State Honorable Mention) is a rising star, while juniors Felice Graganiello (D), Ross Harrison (D), Christian Peretz (M), Saahil Zaman (D) and Austin Jasky (D/M) all return. Freshman D Jackson Craft and freshmen keepers John Coon and Jake Grekowski have been a pleasant surprise and split time in net. Adams is 2-2-2 to begin the season.

36. NORTH FARMINGTON (8-10-1): The Raiders struggled at times in the OAA Red Division last year after being promoted from the OAA-White, but should fear better this season. North Farmington has started 3-1-2. Junior M Bryce Flynn and senior M/F Joey Bass lead the charge.

37. GRAND RAPIDS SOUTH CHRISTIAN (21-5-2): Always one of the top teams in Division 3, South Christian finished as the state runner-up to Grosse Ile last season. The Sailors began the season 6-0-1 with a 27-5 scoring edge — all against D-1 and D-2 schools. Senior M Jeff Herrema (All-State First Team) and senior G Nik Shepers (All-State Honorable Mention) lead the way. Senior F Boston Knapp, senior D Ethan Timmer, senior D/M Gavin Geurkink, junior M Diego Tiscareno and senior F/M Thom DeVries all started games last season. Senior M Cole Huttenga and senior F Ross Boomsma have seen expanded roles. This program has been to five Final Fours in the past decade and is 3-3 in state finals games dating back to 2007.

38. EAST KENTWOOD (12-6-3): This may be a little lower than usual for the Falcons as they field their youngest team in years and started 0-2-4 against quality competition. Junior M Antonio Calabrese, junior D Amar Jez and senior G Jacob Dover (6-foot-5) are all quality players. Sophomores Firket Hasovic, Vedad Vila (G), Tyce Glover and Andrew Welch along with freshman Emrah Sejdinovic are the next group of players who will shine in the future. Winning five state championships with one state runner-up over the past 13 years, East Kentwood lost in the district finals last season to then-No. 1-ranked Okemos.

39. GROSSE ILE (24-0-3): The 2018 Division 3 state runner-up went on to claim the 2019 D-3 state crown behind a senior-laden lineup. The Red Devils lost a ton of firepower but will still be a title contender. Senior M Bosh Tanyi (All-State Honorable Mention, 27 goals) is set for big honors this season. Sophomore defender Cannon Kawdri, junior M Jon Duke, junior D Clayton Lafayette and junior M TJ Khaled all return. Midfielder Ali Khaled is one of the state’s premier freshmen, while junior M Spencer Polar, sophomore F Drew Cardinal and senior twins Zach Bast and Ethan Bast are all capable players.

40. ELK RAPIDS (19-4-2): A 9-2-2 start has those buzzing in northern Michigan because this is not only a Division 3 team but the Elks have defeated or tied multiple D-1 and D-2 schools on this list and the two losses came against powerhouses Traverse City West and Holland Christian at a tournament Labor Day weekend. Regional finalists a year ago, Elk Rapids bolsters senior D/M Kadin Patterson (All-State First Team) and senior F Preston Ball (All-State Second Team), a pair of college recruits. Senior M Terran Peterson, junior G Jack Spencer (15 shutouts last season) and senior D Mahaney Vandeherkhof were all All-State Honorable Mention last year.

41. ROCHESTER STONEY CREEK (8-6-5): While the Cougars field a competitive side, scoring goals consistently might be a problem as the goals scorers the past three years are all playing in college. Junior G Tommy Kim leads a deep well of keepers, while seniors Dalton Harrison (D), Will Knish (M), Aiden Dixon (M/F), Michael Puchalski (F) and Aidan Johns (M) have aided a 2-2-2 start against several quality sides.

42. WEST BLOOMFIELD (11-6-0): With 6-foot-3, 230-pound shot-stopper Elijah Burlak (All-State Honorable Mention) in goal, the Lakers will be in every game. West Bloomfield even started last season in the D-1 Top 20 before finishing fifth in the OAA White Division. Seniors Matthew Lee (D), Alex Kalaj (F), Jake Ward (M) and Deniz Uzunov (M) along with juniors Matthew Martin (M), Andrew Perryman (M), Hudson Williams (F) and Valton Palushaj (M) all started games last year. The Lakers began the season 2-1-3.

43. HOLLAND CHRISTIAN (18-1-2): The defending OK Conference Green Division champions reached the D-3 regional finals last season before falling to Grand Rapids South Christian (2-1). This year the Maroons are back up in D-2 after spending time ranked in the top five in D-2 last season. Junior F Kirby Eggers (All-State Honorable Mention) takes the reigns as leader after three other All-State players departed. Senior M Charlie ZanHalen, junior M Brandon Walters and senior M/D Austin Mulder are returning starters, while senior D Elijah Krimindahl, sophomore G Daniel Morgan and junior F Landon Culver are the key newcomers.

44. MELVINDALE (16-4-2): During the past decade Melvindale slowly climbed the charts and reached the runner-up spot in Division 2 last season. Although three All-State players and seven starters graduated, this will still be a quality team that started 3-1-0. Senior M/F Fouad Noman (All-State First Team) is back after scoring 23 goals, while senior F/M Zaid Ahmed, junior D Mohamed Alratan and senior D Abdul Hafedh Omer all started in the state championship game. Senior G Mohamed Ahmed, sophomore M Jared Gonzales, senior M Wadji Alwan, senior F/M Azzam Munasar, senior D Mohsen Yahya, junior M/F Yaser Ghalib, junior Jefferson Palacio and senior D Hussein Yahya will all play bigger roles.

45. CHELSEA (9-6-4): Perhaps the biggest pleasant surprise so far is Chelsea, which began 7-0-0 behind a 28-3 scoring edge. In Division 2, this will be a dangerous team come late October. Senior F/M Jacob Schultz is having a fine season, while senior F William Barhite, junior M Colin Hay and senior G Connor McKenzie are part of Chelsea’s backbone. Senior D Ruben Furst, senior M Aaron Zivsak and senior F Adam Bahri have also played well for a team lost in the district finals to Tecumseh last year.

46. OXFORD (10-10-1): Even though the Wildcats lost three of their best field players to out-of-state transfer, including one to an MLS Academy residency, Oxford still has one of Michigan’s top goalkeepers in fourth-year starter Tristan Bennett and Oakland University senior commit Zach Townsend (M). Freshmen Diego Mendel (M) and Cooper Caufman (M), senior F/M Christian Mendoza and senior M Matthew Wolfe have aided a 3-3-1 start.

47. GRAND RAPIDS CHRISTIAN (13-5-2): Somewhat of a young team last season after heavy graduating losses from the 2018 season, the Eagles could soar with some college prospects leading the way this year. Junior M Nick Cassiday is a dynamic playmaker who is in the U-17 ODP national pool for non-Academy players. Junior D Eli Leegwater and senior G Anton Dershem are also having big years for Grand Rapids Christian.ob Couch, junior M Ethan Hossler, junior F Matt Goodrich, junior M Nick VanHekken, sophomore M Nate Biebel and senior M Ben Kieff were all reserves last season and will see expanded roles. Grant Ferguson and Isiah Meyer are two freshmen to watch.

48. MIDLAND DOW (15-3-0): Back-to-back large graduating classes have brought Dow back down a level after spending most of the last two seasons in the D-1 Top 15. Seniors Sam Hatfield (M), Luke Myer (M), Ethan Swartzentruber (M) are all back, as is sophomore F Jeb Snead, senior D Andrew Budd and junior M/D River Penn.

49. BYRON CENTER (17-4-2): After tying for third in the OK Conference Green and winning a D-2 district and a year ago, the Bulldogs have started 2-2-2 against quality competition. Junior sniper Andrew Dykstra (All-State Third Team) leads the way.

50. GOODRICH (15-5-0): Although the Martians shared the Flint Metro League title with Fenton and Linden last season, Goodrich must replace some of its offensive firepower. Sophomore F Caeden Russell is one of the better players in his class and senior M Grant Deaton (All-State Honorable Mention) helps lead the way. Seniors Brayden Raether (M), Luke Kowalczyk (M/D), Landon Joyce (D) and Luke Latin (D) also return in front of new junior goalkeeper Nate Olson.

THE NEXT GROUP (listed alphabetically)

DEARBORN (17-3-3): The Pioneers finished third in the top-heavy KLAA-East last season and lost to eventual state semifinalist Salem in the D-1 regional semifinals (3-0). Senior F/M Hadi Jawad and senior M Lucas Blessing, a pair of All-State Honorable Mention selections, junior M Hamza Bazzi, junior D/M Sam Masri and senior M Luke Kearns form the Pioneers’ core.

DEARBORN DIVINE CHILD (11-7-0): After finishing as the Division 2 state runner-up in 2016, the Falcons took a step back but are now back on the upswing. Last season the Falcons captured a D-2 district crown before falling to Parma Western in the regional semifinals (3-0). Senior F Gavin Bourdon (All-State Honorable Mention), junior F Matthew Cadena, senior D/M Mike Koss senior G Jacob Lee. Freshman M Salvatore Thomson is a newcomer to watch. Divine Child started the campaign 4-1-0.

DETROIT U-D JESUIT (11-6-6): The Cubs are fielding a younger team this season but still have started 1-1-3 against quality teams. Sophomore M/F Maxwell Hendrix leads Jesuit.

EAST LANSING (14-4-1): One of the state’s top D-2 programs since the MHSAA split into divisions in the mid-90s, East Lansing is now up in D-1 and must battle with powers Grand Blanc, Okemos and Fenton. Senior D/M WillKnapp, senior D Miles Roy, senior midfielders Evan Wood, Adam Laxton and Spencer Rowe, junior F Evan Mettmaker and senior F Caleb Caballaro are amongst the Trojans’ key returnees.

EAST GRAND RAPIDS (4-13-1): A 6-0-0 start is already much better than last season, where the Pioneers lost two premier players left for MLS Academy residency programs just before the campaign and left a huge void to fill. Senior M Nolan Hunter is a D-I college prospect and leads the way. Senior G Eli Muller, senior F Cam Douglas and junior M Eamonn Burns have all aided the fast start.

FLINT POWERS CATHOLIC (10-8-3): Scoring goals was a problem last season for the D-3 regional finalists Chargers. That problem has been remedied with the arrival of freshman Landon McAlvoy (F) and Brady Lendzion (F/M). throw in returning seniors Brandt Sanchez (G), Aaron Maiorana (F/M), Davis Grasman (D/M), Gabe Zick (M) and Patrick Haggerty (D) and juniors Luke Mattar (D) and Luke Hendler (M) and this should be a team capable of advancing deep into the postseason this year.

FRANKENMUTH (15-5-1): This is another D-3 team that is aiming for high goals. Seniors Bryce Smith (D), Nathan Baker (D/M) and Gabe Kiehl (G) and sophomore Evan Baker (M/F) lead the way for a senior-heavy team.

FREELAND (16-7-0): The Falcons have joined Frankenmuth in another heated battle for the Tri-Valley Conference title. Seniors Jacob Crook (M/F), Stephen Duggan (M), Taylor Armbruster (F) and Steve Makiao (M) lead the way.

GRANDVILLE CALVIN CHRISTIAN (20-2-1): A 2-0 victory over D-3 power Hudsonville Unity Christian turned some heads and this team will be a title contender in Division 4 this season after losing in the regional finals to eventual state champion Muskegon Western Michigan Christian. Senior M Jake DeYoung leads a talented cast.

GROSSE POINTE NORTH (12-5-2): The Norsemen had a resurgence last year and despite losing in the D-1 district finals and graduating 12 players, should be competitive once again. Senior M Nick Miller, junior M /F James Sterberger, junior M Benjamin Sheffield and sophomore D Finn Marshall are quality players. North finished second to Anchor Bay in last year’s MAC White Division standings.

GROSSE POINTE SOUTH (13-3-5): Third-place finishers in the MAC White Division last season, the Blue Devils came on strong to win a wide open district. South eventually lost in the D-1 regional semifinals to Ann Arbor Pioneer (4-0). Seniors Rene Robert (M), senior Bennett Smihal (G), Douglas Tengler (M) and Ian Foy (D) all return, while freshman F Jack Ryan leads the newcomers.

GROSSE POINTE WOODS UNIVERSITY-LIGGETT (18-3-1): The Division 4 Knights have reached the state finals eight times in school history, going 4-4. Liggett lost in a shootout in last year’s finals to Muskegon Western Michigan Christian (1-0) in a game as tight as advertised. The Knights return their top two goal scorers, senior forwards Stewart Smith and Sheikh Manneh, who combined for 45 goals last season, senior G Sam Sword (10 shutouts), senior D Markus Wiegel and junior M Doug Wood.

HUDSONVILLE UNITY CHRISTIAN (14-2-6): After winning the D-3 state title in 2018, Unity Christian was still ranked all of last season despite six ties and a couple of losses. spects. That was with a senior-heavy roster and several college prospects. Senior F Anthony Sterk missed last season with an injury, senior M Tristar Sayumwe and senior M Micah Huisman are the returning starters. Junior D Grant Mulder, junior D Carter Wiebenga, freshman M Gavin Sage and sophomore F Dylan Shaban are all making an impact.

KALAMAZOO CENTRAL (13-8-2): This could be one the Maroons’ best teams since they fielded some ranked squads in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Senior F Breven Brill, junior M Drew Nathbun, junior G Ryan Talanda, senior M Colin Haloran and freshman F Bashir Toliver are part of KC’s revival.

MACOMB LUTHERAN NORTH (15-4-1): Regional finalists in D-3 last season, the Mustangs started the season 2-2-0. Sophomore G Joseph Woloszyk (6-foot-4) is a towering prospect in goal and will keep his team in all games. Junior D/M Trevor Lesnau, sophomore M Joshua Mathews, junior D Noah Tunnecliffe, senior D Leo Evola and senior D/M Nick Cameron hope to keep Lutheran North in contention for another district title.

MARQUETTE (14-5-1): Although the Redmen do play several were Lower Peninsula schools in the regular season, Marquette cannot compete in the MHSAA state tournament against its Lower Peninsula brethren due to the court-ordered season switch lawsuit back in 2007. That technically moved the U.P. schools to the spring. Close to 20 U.P. schools have opted to compete in the fall and have a separate two-division state tournament. The Redmen have dominated above the Mackinac Bridge, winning 12 straight Upper Peninsula Division 1 Boys Soccer titles. Senior Ben Gostomski (D) and senior Carter Beres (D/M) lead 15 returnees including seven returning starters. Sophomore F Max Dawson was a standout last year, while senior M Connor Johnson, junior F Nick Lindberg, junior M Harrison Anthos, sophomore F Nick Asmos and sophomore M/F Evan Sysco are also keys to the ignition. Freshman M Ethan Sandstorm has helped while senior Liam Jeevar and junior Harrison Anthos share time between the pipes.

MARSHALL (19-2-2): This is a team that graduated some firepower to the college ranks the last two years but still has some young guns that will keep the Red Hawks capable of winning another Interstate 8 Conference and district crowns. Sophomore F Josh Pugh is a rising star, while senior D Anthony Dent and juniors Jayson Janofski (M), Andrew Kase (M/F), Brady Tatrow (F) and Carson Tucker (M/D) all started last season. There are four freshmen and two sophomores amongst the newcomers for a team that is also working in two new goalkeepers.

NEW BOSTON HURON (14-5-2): The runner-up in the Huron League and district finalists a year ago, Huron returns a solid core that only recently lost to defending D-3 state champion 1-0. Senior M Ricky Emalian, junior M Alex Davenport, senior G Cody Brenner and junior D Remington Emelian return for the Chiefs.

NORTHVILLE (4-11-3): Lodged in one of the state’s deepest leagues (KLAA-West) and districts and the Mustangs have often been overlooked. But never count out Northville, which started 2-1-1 and has played another rugged schedule. Senior F Harry Neal and senior M Javier Del Bosque are two solid players set for big years. Sophomores Drew Swancutt (G), Alexander Nevelos (D) and Yuto Agusa (F) and juniors Levi Miller (M), Michael Chimienti (D), Jack Kresnak (D) and Kyle Stoner (M) help build a strong nucleus for the future.

PARMA WESTERN (18-4-0): Along with Gaylord, Parma Western was one of the state’s surprises of the 2019 season. Although some key players graduated, the Panthers are still fielding a competitive squad which will still compete for league and district crowns. Last year Western reached the D-2 regional finals and started 3-0-1 this year. Senior F Trey Cottingham (All-State Honorable Mention) is a dangerous threat, while senior D Ethan Zuke, senior M/F Marhsal Eva, senior M Keegan Winsley, junior M Sawyer Patterson, junior M Isaac Ortega, senior G/M Michael Herrington, senior G Corban Hall and senior M Logan Coleman also return.

PORTAGE CENTRAL (7-7-6): Always one off the better sides in the Southwest Michigan Athletic Conference, the 3-3-1 Mustangs fielded somewhat of a younger team last year but will look to compete for a district crown this year. Senior M Mitchell Haines, junior M Daniel Grile, junior F Mason Bell, sophomore M/F Tristan Spettel, junior D Henry Lukas, junior M/D Nolin Szzafranski, sophomore M Ethan Tiller and junior M John Wang are amongst the Mustangs’ core players.

PORTAGE NORTHERN (13-8-2): The Huskies escaped a tough district last season before falling in the D-1 regional semifinals. Seniors Cade Smith (M/F), Amman Khara (M) and Isaiah Spillers (D/M) and juniors Zander Crooks (F/M) and Liam Millership (M/F) are all key returnees.

STERLING HEIGHTS STEVENSON (7-10-4): This team reached the regional finals in D-1 in 2017 and is back on the climb. Senior F Tommy Allos is being courted by  Division I schools Oakland and UD-Mercy. Junior M Vasel Gjonaj is also a college recruit, while junior D Domonic Salha, senior G Dyllon Klyn, junior M Aldin Spago, junior F Stefan  Jakovlievic and senior F Jahir Ramadan also return. Stevenson began the season 3-2-1.

WALLED LAKE CENTRAL (7-9-2): After reaching the Division 1 state finals in 017 with a senior-heavy group, the Vikings are hoping to make a comeback this season and started 3-1-2. Senior M Alexander Diac is a Division I recruit but missed last season with an injury. Junior Nick Hay is one of the highest ranked keepers in his age group, while seniors Josh Peterman (M) and Brendan Martin (F) were all-conference picks a year ago. Senior F Justin Quinn, senior M Alex Basmajian, senior D Mason White, junior D Alex Vlahos, senior M Jason Guggemos and senior M/F Ethan Beal also started games a year ago.

WARREN COUSINO (11-7-2): Winning over 40 games over the last three years, the Patriots won the MAC Blue Division in both 2017 and 2018 and finished fourth in the MAC White Division last season. Senior M/F Andrew Waller (All-State Third Team) is a college recruit and has aided Cousino’s recent resurgence. Senior F Endri Haxhiu, senior G Adis Besic and senior M Aymen Khoshaba are all quality players who will keep this team as one of the better sides in Macomb County and capable of winning a district title. The Patriots started the year 4-0-2.

WILLIAMSTON (14-5-2): The Division 3 Hornets seem to always field a team capable of competing for league and district crowns and maybe more. Junior M Tommy Drake (All-State Honorable Mention) is being courted by D-I and D-II colleges, while senior F Collin Hogsett, junior F Andrew Palmer, junior M Johnny Hart and senior M Seth Goudreau are also key offensive players. Senior Jack Pleyte anchors the defense, while freshmen Matthew Palmer (D) and Eduardo Sanchez (F) junior G Caleb Bond and have fit in nicely.

WOODHAVEN (16-6-0): Even though the Warriors field five sophomores and one freshman and the fact they did not win a league or district crown last year, expect bigger things from Woodhaven this season. Sophomore F Dakota Klindt is a goal-scoring machine, while senior D Connor Hoye, senior M Evan Bliss and junior Nico Smith make this a tough side.


Division 1 — Battle Creek Lakeview, Bloomfield Hills, Caledonia, Clinton Township Chippewa Valley, Davison, Dearborn Fordson, Dearborn Heights Crestwood, Farmington, Grand Haven, Grand Ledge, Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central, Grand Rapids Union, Holland West Ottawa, Jenison, Kalamazoo Loy-Norrix, Livonia Churchill, Macomb Dakota, Midland, Monroe, Plymouth, St. Clair Shores Lakeview, Traverse City Central, Walled Lake Western

Division 2 — Allegan, Allendale, Allen Park, Battle Creek Harper Creek, Bay City Western, Birmingham Brother Rice, Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook, Cedar Springs, Coldwater, Dearborn Divine Child, Edwardsburg, Grand Rapids Forest Hills Eastern, Grand Rapids Northview, Hamtramck, Hastings, Lowell, Ludington, Madison Heights Lamphere, Mason, Middleville Thornapple-Kellogg, Muskegon Mona Shores, Muskegon Reeths-Puffer, Orchard Lake St. Mary’s, Otsego, Paw Paw, Petoskey, Plainwell, Riverview, Spring Lake, St. Clair, St. Johns, Stevensville-Lakeshore, Tecumseh, Trenton, Warren Woods-Tower, Whitehall, Wyoming, Wyoming Kelloggsville, Zeeland East

Division 3 — Alma, Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard, Armada, Berrien Springs, Big Rapids, Bloomingdale, Boyne City, Brooklyn Columbia Central, Clawson, Comstock Park, Delton-Kellogg, Detroit Frontier International Academy, Dowagiac Union, Essexville-Garber, Fennville, Fremont, Gladwin, Grand Rapids Catholic Central, Grand Rapids West Catholic, Grand Rapids West Michigan Aviation Academy, Grayling, Hanover-Horton, Hemlock, Hillsdale, Imlay City, Iron Mountain, Lansing Catholic, Leslie, Livonia Clarenceville, Manchester, Midland Bullock Creek, Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central, Muskegon Oakridge, Muskegon Orchard View, Newaygo, Otsego, Richmond, Shelby, Shepherd, South Haven, Taylor Prep Academy, Traverse City Christian, Unionville-Sebewaing, West Branch Ogemaw Heights, Whitehall, Wyoming Godwin Heights, Wyoming Lee

Division 4 / MACS / Home Schools — Adrian Lenawee Christian, Allen Park Inter-City Baptist, Ann Arbor Greenhills, Auburn Hills Oakland Christian, Bad Axe, Bangor, Birmingham Roeper, Bridgman, Brighton Charyl Stockwell Academy, Buckley, Burton Genesee Christian, Byron, Byron Center West Michigan Heat Home School,   Byron Center Zion Christian, Cassapolis, Clarkston Everest Collegiate, Clinton Twp. Faith Christian, Covert, Dansville, Davison Faith Baptist, Fruitport Calvary Christian, Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian, Hartford, Hillsdale Academy, Hudsonville Home School, Kalamazoo Christian, Kalamazoo Hackett Catholic Central, Kalamazoo Home School, Laingsburg, Lansing Christian, Lansing Dragons Home School, Leland, Lincoln-Alcona, Madison Heights Bishop Foley, Maple City Glen Lake, Marcellus Howardsville Christian, Marlette, McBain Northern Michigan Christian, Memphis, Midland Calvary Baptist, New Buffalo, North Muskegon, Oscoda, Plymouth Christian, Riverview Gabriel Richard, Rochester Hills Christian, Romeo Summit Home School, Roscommon, Royal Oak Shrine Catholic, Saginaw Valley Lutheran, Sterling Heights Summit Home School, Troy Bethany Christian, Waterford Oakdale Christian Academy, Westland Huron Valley Lutheran, Lutheran Westland, Wyoming Potter’s House Christian


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