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BOYS SOCCER Holland Christian chasing repeat title dreams in higher division


BY DAN STICKRADT

WEB AND CONTENT EDITOR

Twitter: @MiSoccerNetwork


HOLLAND, Mich. – It’s one thing to win a state champion and repeat as a state champ the next year.

But to try to repeat in a higher division against larger schools after winning a title the previous year in a lower division. Regardless of sport, it’s a rarity.

Holland Christian’s boys soccer team in trying to do just that this season.

One year after winning the Division 3 state title in boys soccer and third overall state crown in program history, the Maroons were bumped up enrollment-wise to Division 2 in 2023. Holland Christian is two wins away from repeating as a state champion but in a higher division.

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A handful of schools in each of the MHSAA’s four divisions moved up or down with Holland Christian moving up to Division 2 this season by only a handful of students.

“It’s not going to be easy, for sure,” offered Holland Christian 11th-year head coach David DeBoer earlier this month. “There’s a lot of great teams out there in each division and we have our work cut out for us. But wouldn’t that be something?”

Flashback to 2022 and the Maroons enjoyed one of their best seasons to date behind a stellar defensive effort. Holland Christian finished a fine 20-1-3 overall in 2022 with an eye-catching 67-7 scoring edge in 24 games while posting a school record 18 shutouts and a 0.29 team goals-against-average. That included the Ottawa Kent Conference Blue Division, district and regional titles en route to the Division 3 state crown.

This season playing a schedule jam-packed with fellow state ranked teams, Holland Christian debuted in the Division 2 Top 15 rankings in August and slowly climbed the ladder before taking over the No. 1 spot in early October, knocking defending D-2 state champion Richland-Gull Lake from its perch.

While numerous top-15 teams began to fall early in the state tournament, especially in Division 1 and Division 2, Holland Christian has stood its ground. The Maroons are now 18-1-2, repeated as the OKC-Blue, district and regional champions this season, pitched another 15 clean sheets and outscored the opposition 57-9.

From Sept. 8 through Oct. 19, Holland Chistian recorded 12 straight shutouts. After a 4-1-1 start where the Maroons only held a 11-6 scoring edge, Holland Christian has been on a tear with a 14-0-1 record and the tie came in a 0-0 draw with state-ranked Fruitport in the OKC Blue Division championship match.

The Maroons sole loss this season is to state powerhouse Detroit Country Day, the current top-ranked school in Division 3 and winners of 15 MHSAA state championships. The Yellowjackets are still competing in the D-3 state tournament’s Final Four.




The program graduated 11 players, including eight starters. But the Maroons had great depth, brough back three quality starters and 11 more reserves from last season’s roster – all current seniors – along with bring up some quality newcomers.

“We still brough back a lot of guys,” reminded DeBoer. “We have 14 seniors on this team, which is the most we’ve ever had – at least since I’ve been here. A lot of them didn’t start but we had a lot of depth last year. We were very deep and a lot of these guys played a lot of minutes. We subbed a lot and didn’t have much of a drop off.”

The three returning starters include seniors JP Hogsten (CB), Lake Vander Ploeg (CM) and Elliott Cook (M), and all three re college recruits at various NCAA and NAIA levels. All three have enjoyed fine seasons in 2022 and each scored during a shootout during last week’s 1-0 shootout win over unranked Plainwell in the regional finals. The Maroons prevailed 4-2 on penalty kicks.

Also back that played a ton of minutes are senior goalkeeper Adam Bergman (6-foot-4), and seniors Jordan Rees (M), Lucas Hegg (M), Sam Plockmeyer (F), Caden Petroelje (F) and David VanDuinen (D). Seniors Alden Baker (D), Michael Haig (F), Ryan Vos (D), Chase Brink (D) and Henry Schipper (G) were also on the varsity roster last year. The top newcomer has been sophomore Reuben Plaggemars (M/F), who has some explosive speed and has been a pleasant addition to a balanced attack.



“We have a very strong senior class,” added DeBoer, who is now 177-31-24 over 11 seasons entering this week’s Final Four. “They all understand their rolls and we do have some depth a lot like last year.”

Holland Christian will face OKC White Division member and seventh-ranked Grand Rapids Christian (16-5-2), which is on a seven-game win streak itself behind a 25-4 scoring edge in that span. The Eagles were the Division 2 state champions in 2021 and also captured D-2 state crowns back in 2001 and 1998.



“We’ll take it one game at a time. That’s all we can do with the type of schedule we play,” noted DeBoer. “Most of the teams we play are good. Look at the teams we’ve played this season – (Muskegon) Western Michigan Christian, Detroit Country Day, (Grand Rapids) South Christian, Fruitport, Allendale, Plainwell (Hudsonville) Unity (Christian), Holland, (Grand Rapids) West Catholic, Spring Lake. There’s a lot of very good programs on our schedule and the (state) tournament is the same way.”

(To report state tournament results, email pertinent details to both stickradt@michigansoccernetwork.com and jonathan@michigansoccernetwork.com)



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