At the Michigan High School Athletic Association’s boys soccer tournament Nov. 6, Christian schools came out on top in three of the four school divisions.
Grand Rapids (Mich.) Christian High School won the Division 2 state championship, South Christian High School in Byron Center, Mich., took Division 3, and The Potter's House High School in Wyoming, Mich., earned gold in Division 4.
South Christian did not lose a single game all season, going 22-0-3. Grand Rapids Christian entered the state tournament with seven losses, including four of the Eagles’ last six regular-season contests. The Potter’s House Pumas had a 24-3-1 record going into the tournament.
Grand Rapids Christian High School won the Division 2 title in boys soccer, their first championship victory in 20 years./Michigan High School Athletic Association
“We learned a lot of tough lessons from the losses we experienced before the tournament,” said Grand Rapids Christian coach Aric Dershem. “We knew we had to improve on some key parts of our play in order to put it all together and perform at our best.”
The tournament performance was definitely strong. The Eagles won seven consecutive games, including a semifinal upset victory over the state’s top-ranked team. They outscored their tournament opponents 28-4.
South Christian High School in Byron Center, Mich., won the Division 3 title in boys soccer, closing out an undefeated season./Michigan High School Athletic Association
South Christian had reached the Division 3 title game each of the past two seasons, but lost both years. This year, however, they defeated Grosse Ile, who had beaten the Sailors in the previous two championship games, 3-1. It was a satisfying victory for the Sailors, head coach Joel Vande Kopple said.
“Knowing that you've lost to the same team the previous two years could easily have been a mental block for the players,” Vande Kopple said. This was his first year as South Christian’s head coach. He had previously won a state title as a coach at Lansing (Mich.) Christian High School.
“Our focus when we got to the final game was worrying about us and not worrying about the other team. It's easier said than done, but the guys took it to heart, and I know it felt good to finally get past that final hurdle,” Vande Kopple said.
The Division 2 title is the third state championship for Grand Rapids Christian, but the Eagles’ first in 20 years. The Division 3 win is South Christian’s fourth title. The school last won in 2015.
The Wyoming Potter’s House Pumas/Michigan High School Athletic Association
This was the first state championship tournament for The Potter’s House Pumas, ending on a 3-0 win against Everest Collegiate Academy from Clarkston, Mich. An account of the performance posted on the team’s website quoted coach Mike Colago as saying, “Yesterday’s game was a culmination of full team buy-in and effort throughout the season. We had committed ourselves to open gyms, skill workouts, and summer training and scrimmages to get to this championship level. We had four pillars on the season: motivation, confidence, mental stability, and team cohesion. Each one of these was fulfilled.”