Two Michigan high schools with ties to the Christian Reformed Church recently won state championships in boys soccer.
Holland (Mich.) Christian High School won the Michigan High School Athletic Association Division 3 championship, while Western Michigan Christian High School in Norton Shores, Mich., a suburb of Muskegon, took home the Division 4 title.
It was Holland Christian’s first state title in 19 years and third in school history in boys soccer. The Maroons won seven consecutive games, five of them by shutout, in the state tournament on the way to the title, winning the final game 2-0.
“Our strength was not on an individual or two but a total team,” Holland Christian coach Dave DeBoer said. “Each player accepted, bought into, and did their role with pride. The players love the game and love each other.”
Before getting to the state final, Holland Christian had to survive a memorable penalty kick shootout against the state’s top-ranked team in the regional that went 11 rounds before the Maroons prevailed.
“The emotions after winning (that game) were overwhelming,” said De Boer, who attends Providence Christian Reformed Church in Holland. “Seeing the joy on the players’ faces, the fans sprinting around celebrating with us and even the parents joining in the celebration is something that I won't forget.”
Holland Christian finished the season with a record of 20-1-3.
Western Michigan Christian won its eighth state championship in school history with a 1-0 victory in the title game. The Warriors lost five of their first seven games to begin the season, often playing bigger schools.
They entered the state tournament unranked but pulled off seven consecutive wins in tournament play, allowing a total of four goals during the run. Warriors head coach Ben Buursma said the tough early-season schedule helped prepare the team for their tournament run.
“Everything we do is to prepare for October and November. We are not concerned with wins, draws or losses so much as how we are playing on the field,” Buursma said. “The results will come as long as we become excellent in what we set out to do. It's a matter of committing to the style and tempo that we want to play and looking to minimize our mistakes.”
Western Michigan Christian finished the season at 16-8-2.
“We are blessed to have a beautiful new field and bleachers on the campus, so the engagement of the students and community at-large was so great this year. Coming out of a couple years with really limited fan support due to the (COVID-19) pandemic was refreshing and enlivening,” Buursma said.