top of page
MSNMAGBANNER.png
share your team.jpg

GIRLS SOCCER: Uncharted Waters: Grand Haven continues deep run as unranked team


BY DAN STICKRADT

COMMUNICATIONS SPECIALIST | WEB AND CONTENT EDITOR | DIRECTOR OF NEWS

PH: (248) 884-1051

TW/X: @msn_stickradt @LocalSportsFans @MiSoccerNetwork


GRAND HAVEN, Mich. – With each passing game, Grand Haven gains more confidence.


And why wouldn’t the Buccaneers be playing with such a renewed confidence and swagger?

Their last month has been full of upsets. And that’s right, Grand Haven is in the Division 1 Final Four for the first time in program history.


Grand Haven upset top-ranked Hudsonville 1-0 in a shootout in the Ottawa Kent Conference-Red Division Tournament semifinals in mid-May, handing the senior-laden Eagles their first loss of the season. The Buccaneers lost Hudsonville 4-0 back on April 16.


Grand Haven, which won its first two OKC-Red Tournament games via shootout 1-0, ended up losing to eighth-ranked Rockford 1-0 in the conference tournament finals on a late goal, which gave Rockford the overall and league tournament titles.


Still, the Buccaneers were starting to believe that they can compete with anybody.


Grand Haven has marched to five postseason wins in the state tournament -- which helped give them their first district title since 2019 – and the Buccaneers also reached the regional finals for the first time in program history last week and later captured their first-ever regional title last Thursday.


“I think when we won those two games in shootouts in the conference tournament and beat Hudsonville (in the OKC semis), I think then we started to believe that we could compete with the really good teams. (Hudsonville) beat us 4-0 earlier in the season but we made some adjustments the second time we played them and took them to penalties and won,” noted first-year Grand Haven coach Adam Dean, who also coaches on the club soccer circuit with Lakeshore FC. “We lost to Rockford on a (last-minute) goal in the conference finals but we were right there with them.”



The state tournament run has included an impressive 2-0 win over Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern in the district semifinals and followed that up with handing Rockford its first and only loss of the campaign in the district finals – again 1-0 in a shootout less than two weeks after falling to the Rams in a shootout in the OKC-Red Tournament finals.


The Buccaneers continued their string of upsets in the regionals, topping Saginaw Valley League champion and 10th-ranked Midland Dow (2-1) in the regional semifinals and knocked off fifth-ranked Portage Central (1-0) in the regional finals – and the Mustangs were making their fourth straight appearance in the regional finals round and only conceded eight goals this season.


That gave the Buccaneers another marquee win under their belt and further cemented that new-found confidence. To put things in perspective, Grand Haven finished 9-6-4 in 2021, 4-15-1 in 2022 and 8-8-1 in 2023 and did not advance past the pre-district or district semifinals rounds during the last three campaigns.


Grand Haven (12-6-4) will face 11th-ranked Hartland at 6 p.m. at Grand Ledge in the state semifinals on Tuesday night, as the Bucs have sailed into some uncharted waters. Hartland was the 2021 state champion and lost in the regional finals in 2022 to eventual state champion Bloomfield Hills.


The Eagles (15-3-3) are a well-seasoned and experienced bunch that returned 20 letterwinners this season and have three fourth-year players on their roster. Hartland also won the highly-competitive and deep Kensington Valley Activities Association-West Division title ahead of several other ranked and highly-regarded programs.


“I understand that they are traditionally a strong program,” admitted Dean. “I know they’ll be ready for us and we’ll be ready for them. I expect this will be a great game.”



Grand Haven has only scored 29 goals as a team this season but have only conceded 23 goals and have been a stout defensive team in the last month. The Buccaneers outscored their three foes 2-1 in the conference tournament and so far 9-3 in the state tournament with three clean sheets. Their overall resume boasts 10 shutouts, three 1-0 shootout wins in the league tournament and state tournament combined, and six one-goal wins in the last month and a 6-2 record in one-goal games over their final 10 contests.


Grand Haven is 7-3-0 overall in its last seven games.


“We learned a lot of lessons earlier in the season. We tried different formations against different teams and with me being a new head coach these girls had to learn my system and we had to get to know each other,” offered Dean. “It took some time. We lost some games early in the season but we have been able to come back and beat some really good teams. Beating Hudsonville and Rockford this year after losing to them early in the season was big for us. We didn’t know much about Midland Dow and we beat them (in the regional semis) and Portage Central we knew was a really good team and we found a way to beat them. The girls really believe now that they can compete with anybody.”


Senior goalkeeper Hannah Taylor, one of just four seniors on the entire roster, has been lights out this spring, especially in the final month of the season. She was only All-District Honorable Mention last year but has vaulted herself into being one of the many high-level goalkeepers in the state this season and has already earned at least All-League and All-District honors.


Senior center back Avery Christensen was an All-OKC and All-District player last year and has stepped up her game this year anchoring the backfield for the Buccaneers. Senior forward Rosalee Springer and sophomore midfielder Jocelyn Ross were All-League Honorable Mention last season and have stepped up this year as well.


Christensen, who played ECNL club soccer with Midwest United as a freshmen and sophomore before playing for Grand Haven the last two seasons, and the aforementioned Hannah Taylor joined junior center back Olivia Wert and junior midfielder Gillian Sorrelle on the Ottawa Kent Conference-Red Division First Team this year, while Springer was named All-League Honorable Mention. Seven players overall on the Grand Haven roster were recently named to the All-District list after their fine seasons up until that point.

 



A small handful of Buccaneers are also up for All-Region and All-State honors this year as well, as the All-State lists will be released towards the tail end of next week.


Senior midfielder/center back Taylor Gillis, sophomore outside back Emma Burns and junior outside back Mya White have all been solid this season. The highly-touted freshmen group of 6-foot-3 midfielder Mallory Woitschek, who also excels at volleyball and basketball and was a three-sport varsity athlete this school year, midfielder Milani Wilson and forward Kendall Munford have all made an impact this season on the pitch for the Buccaneers and have started some games. Freshman midfielder Georgia Reinecke has also gained some minutes.

There are four freshmen, four sophomores and seven juniors to go along with the four freshmen on the Grand Haven roster this year.


Collectively, this unit has jelled into a fine squad and has ventured further than any other in program history. Not bad for a team that hovered around the five-hundred mark as recently as early May and entered their conference tournament on May 9 at 5-4-4.


“I don’t think they had even won a regional games before and we won our regional semifinal and we got to the regional finals and won that game,” continued Dean. “We’re in the (Final Four) for the first time and we’ve got a shot at something our (program) has never had the opportunity to do in the past.”



(Have a story suggestion for the Premier Media Group and the Michigan Soccer Network regarding club soccer, high school varsity, amateur soccer, collegiate soccer or professional soccer of teams or players with Michigan ties, contact Communications Specialist/Web and Content Editor/Director of News Dan Stickradt via email at stickradt@michigansoccernetwork.com, or call 248-884-1051. Dan Stickradt is a 31-year veteran of the Michigan Media circles and recently joined the staff full time in March of 2024. Want to schedule a broadcast game or live show, contact PMG/MSN Director of Broadcasting Jonathan Turner for availability and pricing at jonathan@michigansoccernetwork.com.) 






82 views0 comments

Commenti


GOT A SOCCER NEWS TIP? TEXT 248-617-7715

BOOK MSN TODAY

bottom of page