By Dan Stickradt
GET YOUR MSN TOP 50 LONG SLEEVE T-SHIRT TODAY
BLOOMFIELD HILLS (6-8-2): After a rebuilding season where the Blackhawks finished fifth in the OAA White Division and where the team was outscored 35-18, Bloomfield Hills is back on the rise. The Blackhawks recorded two of their six wins in the postseason last year and reached the D-1 district finals to kind of signify their comeback trail. This season Bloomfield Hills began 6-2-1 with a 20-7 scoring edge and three shutouts. Seniors Bronson Ellis (CB) and Logan Mann (M), juniors Nikolas Simon (F) and Taye Levenson (M) and sophomore Alec Frantz (D) are returning starters and quality club players with the latter Frantz coming off a great campaign with his Nationals club. Four sophomore newcomers have landed plenty of playing time are Toby Bennett (G), Ryan Wilusz (D), Dylan Sosa Sanchez (F) and Harry Dixon (M).
BLOOMFIELD HILLS CRANBROOK-KINGSWOOD (15-2-3): Another program with a storied past, Cranbrook has reached the Final Four seven times since 2009, including the state runner-up in both 2014 and 2022, but has never won a state title. Last year the Cranes captured the CHSL-AA Division title and took powerful Novi Detroit Catholic Central to overtime in the CHSL Tournament finals. A year ago with a senior heavy roster Cranbrook outscored the opposition 51-18 with eight clean sheets but were outmatched and outshot significantly in the Division2 title match loss to Richland Gull Lake. A lot of that offensive firepower graduated, including four of the team’s five All-State performers. There are five returning starters, led by senior midfielder Cameron Hannah (All-State Second Team). Juniors Milo Kiezun (M) and Paul Aczmar (D) and seniors Blake Johnson (F) and Jason Lin (M) are the other returning starters. Seniors Nate Kim (F), Clarke Hay (M) and Marcello Rodriguez (G) and sophomores Kai Xu (M) and Andrew Chano (M) all saw significant minutes off the bench on a deep team. So far this season, Cranbrook is trying to reload and began the season 3-2-1, as the Cranes have descended down the rankings.
CALEDONIA (7-11-3): The Scotts ventured through a rebuilding campaign last year after seeing some key players transfer or join an MLS Next Academy roster. This year Caledonia has a mixed bag of results, as it navigates a tough non-conference and OKC Red Division schedule. Senior Nate Mass (F, All-State Honorable Mention) is one of the better strikers in western Michigan, while seniors Brayden Smith (G), Brenden Vancessel (D), Brandon Osorio (D) and Jaxson Higgins (D/M), junior Carter Johnson (M/D) and sophomore Gage Helinski (D/M) are some of the other returnees.
DEARBORN FORDSON (20-4-1): Another program that has been on the rise the last decade, the Tractors spent some time in the state rankings in Division 1 each of the last three years. Last year was one of Fordson’s best year, as they captured the KLAA East Division crown, lost in KLAA championship match, captured a D-1 district crown before being ousted in the regional semifinals by eventual state semifinalist Salem (2-0). There is plenty of firepower back among the three returning starters in juniors Omar Faraj (M/F), Hadi Saad (M/CB, All-League) and Bashar Othman (F, All-League, All-State Honorable Mention, 17 goals, 14 assists). Senior Ali Allami (OB/M) and juniors Hassan Tlays (CB/F), Issac Hazamy (F/CB) and Yacoub Al-Hasan (F/M) also have varsity experience and will see increased roles. Juniors Hanafi Elboraei (CB/M) and Rayan Ghadieh (G), sophomore Mehsi Alhasnawi (M) and freshmen Qusai Al-Mahwat (G) and Waleed Alhiyafi (OB/M/F).
FENTON (14-2-4): After veteran coach Matt Sullivan retired in the summer of 2022, the Tigers are already on their third head coach in as many of seasons, as Joe Melero takes over the program that finished second to Goodrich in the 12-school FML last season. This team is considerably younger as in recent years and Fenton is trying to work in many first-year varsity players. Six of the seven players listed on the All-FML team last year have graduated. The only returning player with any postseason honors is senior Gibson Lehman.
FLINT KEARSLEY (10-11-0): With six players back with some type of All-FML recognition, the Hornets are expected to be a challenger in a wide open, multi-team race in the FML this season. Flint Powers Catholic girls soccer coach Art Moody took over the program last year and is slowly righting the ship for the Hornets, who last reached the regional finals way back in 1988 in Class A. There are 10 returning starters back for the Hornets, led by senior Caden Saxton (M, All-State Honorable Mention, All-FML First Team, single season school record 24 goals; career school record 46 goals entering 2023). Senior Danny Sanson (M, All-FML Third Team), juniors Tony Romero (F, All-League Second Team, 16 goals), Lucas Groulx (CB, All-FML Third Team), Saul Grandados (LB, All-FML Honorable Mention) and Carlos Granados (CB, All-FML Honorable Mention) and sophomore Aiden Tipton (G, All-FML Honorable Mention) all earning some type of postseason honors in 2022. Senior Jalen Gatica (RB), junior Kameryn Beasterfeld (M) and sophomores Adam Howell (CM) and Ethan Billing (M) also starting a bulk of last season. There are also seven other returning lettermen, while freshman Tomas Sanson (M) leads the cast of newcomers.
Are you interested in advertising your businesses on youtube with the Michigan Soccer Network?
HARTLAND (6-9-5): Hartland got off to a fast start and was ranked in August before falling out due to the gauntlet of a tough league and non-conference schedule. Senior Erik Pecaj (M, All-District) asnd fellow seniors Evan Bryan (M), Christian Czarnecki (F), Erik Bryan (F), Evan Ringle (M), Caden Walker (F) and Garrett Woodbury (M/F) join sophomore Trip Tomvin (G) as players who are vying for starting minutes. All six players that earned any type of All-KLAA honors last season for the Eagles graduated. Hartland started the year 4-3-0 and 4-2-0 in conference play. Last year the Eagles finished sixth the KLAA West Division.
LIVONIA CHURCHILL (7-11-2): Once a standout program in the 1980s and 1990s, Churchill quietly faded from the limelight since the early 2000s. Last season the Chargers featured a young roster that included only three seniors against nine juniors, six sophomores and one freshman. This year over 80 percent of that roster is back in place and has aided the best start (4-0-1) in over a decade, including a rare win over Livonia Stevenson (2-1). A pair of All-KLAA First Team choices, senior Stewart Johns (D) and sophomore William Aljets (M/F) are back for the Chargers climb back into relevancy. Seniors Jaden Reji (D) and Noe Martinzez (D) and junior Dominic Kaunelis (D/G) were also All-League Honorable Mention last season. Junior Matthew Havristiuc (M) is also a key player who returns to the middle of the park. This season the Chargers on a 15-4 scoring edge with a pair of clean sheets after surrendering 42 goals last season., Expect Churchill to be one of the top teams in a vastly improved KLAA East Division.
LIVONIA STEVENSON (10-5-2): One of the state’s most storied programs, the Spartans were supposed to be faced with a slight rebuilding year but has still started 4-2-2 with a 21-12 scoring differential and two shutouts. Last year Stevenson only finished third in the KLAA-East before losing in the D-1 pre-district round, a rare first-round exit. Three players that earned honorable mention all-conference are back in seniors Noah Reider (G), Jake Cawood (D) and Rani El-Hajj Ahmad (M). Senior Ben Wilson (D/M) is part of a group of 13 returnees.
MARQUETTE (21-2-2): After winning 15 straight Upper Peninsula Division 1 tournament championships, independent Marquette will be going after its 16th straight. The Redmen are also eligible for the Division 2 state tournament for the first time since 2006, as a recent court order was reversed regarding a 2001 lawsuit that was finally settled in 2007 that moved soccer out of season in the U.P. Marquette must replace seven starters, including 100-plus career goal scorer Max Dawson. Seniors Edan Hautamaki (G), Hunter Sandstorm (D) and Ethan Sandstorm (F) and junior Indigo Catlano (D) are the returning starters. Juniors Kaleb Chipelewski (AM), Dixon Poggi (D), Henry Wood (F), Jack Sysko (M), Miles Hill (M), Mason Bocklund (F) and Cody Struck (F) and seniors Ben Wilson (M), Easton Zivnoska (D), Andy Brunswick (D), Will Salo (D), Seamus Waite (F), Alex Caron (M), James Barch (D) are all back. Freshman Charlie Hrodey (F) and senior Canyon Medina (F) are the top newcomers.
PARMA WESTERN (18-1-0): After reaching the regional finals in 2020, Parma Western again posted one of its best seasons to date. The Panthers’ sole loss last year came in a Division 2 district finals to eventual state champion Richland Gull Lake (1-0). Western ended Marshall’s seven-year run atop the Interstate 8 Athletic Conference last year with a 7-0-0 record, a season where the Panthers collected 12 shutouts and posted a scoring differential of 92-8. The program loaded up the non-conference schedule with several much larger D-1 programs or quality or state-ranked D-2 or D-3 teams to prepare the Panthers for league and state tournament play. So far Parma Western is 3-3-1. Senior Jeff Palmer (F, All-State First Team) is injured and his return is indefinite. Sophomore Roarke Watterson (M, All-State Honorable Mention) is one of the best statewide in his class, while seniors Aidan Bennett (G, 6-foot-5), Christian Roza (M), Barrett Warner (D/M) and Whittaker Watterson (M/F) and juniors Quentin Eva (D) and Luke Nally (D) also return to a lineup featuring numerous third- and fourth-year varsity veterans. There are nine returnees and 12 newcomers on the roster this season, led by freshman Samuel Haydenberg (F), one of five ninth-graders on the varsity roster.
PLYMOUTH (5-11-4): The Wildcats are looking to become one of the most improved sides in the entire two-division KLAA and have started a respectable 4-4-1 following a tough schedule. Plymouth holds a 14-8 scoring edge in that span. With three shutouts. Senior Nicholas Phillips (M) is a dynamic playmaker and the engine of this team. Seniors Jake Siebert (G), Sam Baum (D), Michael Ghneim (M), Evan Martinez (F) and Charlie Maletta (F) along with juniors Spencer Prouty (CB), Owen Christianson (F), JR Maitland (M), Will Dani (M) and James Steffen (D) are aiding the cause.
PORTAGE NORTHERN (9-11-2): Like many quality programs from around the state, the Huskies have lost some players to the MLS Next circles. But Portage Northern looks to be much improved this fall. Senior Keegan Hammond (G) and Avery Kucharski (M/F) are a pair of third-year starters while seniors Brady Meja (F), Corbin Trickery (M), Gavin Thompson (D), Jake Barney (M), Josh Charvis (D/M), Owen Brockel (D) and Ryan Andrews (M) and junior Brody Hembree (F) also return to the lineup.
RIVERVIEW (22-3-1): Veteran coach Ben Zolysnky is cautiously optimistic this season because the Pirates are trying to replace 14 players lost to graduation, including eight starters. But when you have two dynamic players in Dream Team candidate Denin Oglecevac (F, All-State First Team) who scored 45 goals last season and senior Thomas Asciutto (M/F, All-State Third Team) who had 19 goals and eight assists leading the way, you can still find ways to compete and win games. Junior Jack Bias (D/M) is the third returning stater for a team that recorded 14 shutouts and reached the Division 2 Final Four for the first time last season. Seniors Caleb Citten, Caden McGrath, Jacob Bias and Angelo Male will see increased roles this season.
ROMEO (13-5-2): While Romeo’s girls soccer team has enjoyed some success in recent years with some ranked teams, Romeo’s talented pool in boys soccer has slowly become stronger and so have the results. The Bulldogs normally compete in one of the state’s tougher districts and have not captured a district crown since 1987. Romeo started the campaign 4-1-1 and was listed as honorable mention in the rankings for a couple of weeks. The Bulldogs are trying to compete for the MAC White Division title this season after finishing second to Utica Ford a year ago. Seniors Andrew Taseski (CB), Joseph Casuccio (G) and Luke Minor (D) are all third-year veterans, while seniors Aiden Coffer (D), Joseph Kirtley (D), Aiden Odren (M/F), Luke Bennett (D) and Evan Varcoe (D) also return. Sophomore Brayden Burke (M) is a rising star and played virtually every minute as a freshman. Sophomore Joseph Celaj (M) leads 12 newcomers.
SAGINAW HERITAGE (10-5-0): A once proud program that saw many long runs back in the 1990s and early 2000s, the Hawks are enjoying a little bit of a resurgence this season following a 5-0-2 start. Heritage began turning a corner with a 10-win, fourth-place finish in the SVL last season. Seniors Derek Trinklein (M/D) and Bodhi Wideman (F) are a pair of All-League players back in uniform. Sophomore Brady Packer (F) is a rising star, while junior Andrew Denay (CB), senior Carson Hales (CB), junior Chris Enciso (CB/M) and junior Devin Chenoweth (G) are some of the Hawks’ other key players.
ST. CLAIR SHORES LAKEVIEW (16-2-1): In the early-to-mid 1990s, Lakeview was a very talented program with a plethora of high-level club players coming up through the system. After that the Huskies faded away from the limelight. But one cannot deny that this program has substantially become better as of late and is one of the notable stories around the state. Last year the Huskies won 16 games, finished 13-0-1 to win the Macomb Area Conference Blue Division, reached the district finals before falling to Fraser, recorded nine shutouts and outscored the opposition 91-15. This year Lakeview is listed in the Division 1 honorable mention category of the state rankings, as the Huskies have started 8-0-0 overall with a 32-6 scoring edge and three clean sheets. The Huskies only graduated five players. Seniors Evan Gianino (M/F), Dylan Kobicz (M), Andrew Medvedik (M) and Yahor Aliakseveu (M) along with junior Briggs Wilkie (D) are all third-year varsity veterans. Seniors Charlie Bingle (D), James Casey (G), Bryson Endres (M), Andrew Pillars (D), Dane Shaw (M) and Thomas Stanton (M) also return, while juniors Adrian Payne (F), Liam Savalle (M) and Evan Tripp (M) all bring in varsity experience.
STURGIS (10-7-0): The Trojans finished just above five-hundred last season but the Wolverine Conference (third place) members are creating quite a buzz this season as one of the surprise teams. Sturgis has cracked the Division 2 Top 15 following a 4-0-0 start where they have outscored the
opposition 17-4. Juniors Brandin Kelly (F), Gavyn Moore (M), and Steve Gonzales (D) along with senior Kevin Gonzales (M/D) all earned some type of All-League honors a year ago. Sophomore Adrian Correa (M/F) also returns to the starting lineup. In total there are 17 returning players for the Trojans, who hope to battle for a league championship for the first time in two decades.
TROY (18-2-0): The Colts were ranked either No. 1 or No. 2 in the state in Division 1 and captured back-to-back OAA Red Division crowns, Troy was upset by eventual D-1 state champion in the regional semifinals last season despite having 16 seniors at the time. The Colts only brought back two starters sand four players that saw significant minutes last season. Troy was ranked in the preseason based on last year’s laurels but have gained a dose of baptism under fire so far this year with mostly a new roster. Junior Clay Cusmano (M), Nahuel Larroquette (D), Johnny Worrell (M) and senior Jack Hotts (D) all saw minutes as starters or reliable subs last season. Seniors Ben Sumnar (G/D), Christian Orzame (M), Michael Giglio (F), Kai Tanaafranca (M) and Zephyr Fegley (D) also return and all will see increased rolls.
ZEELAND WEST (8-9-0): The Dux are off to a 5-0-3 start and are backed by 11 seniors, all which saw significant playing time last season. Senior Gael Garcia (M) leads the way. Zeeland West has outscored the opposition 11-2 with six shutouts to open the campaign. Seniors Samuel DiLAura (D), Vance Murray (D), Brandon Taylor (G), Micah Henry (F), Austin O’Connell (D), Andrew Kraft (M), Benjamin Keuning (F), Jeu Alonso (M), Trigve Elkins (F) and Andrew McCullough (D) with juniors Jehu Cavada (G) and Lucas Smith (G) are also back in uniform. The Dux hope to challenge Muskegon Reeths-Puffer, Holland and Grand Rapids Union in the eight-member OKC Green Division this fall.
OTHERS TO WATCH
Division 1: Ann Arbor Skyline, Canton, Dearborn Heights Crestwood, Detroit Western International, Grand Rapids Union, Grosse Pointe South, Holt, Kalamazoo Central, Kalamazoo Loy-Norrix, Lake Orion, Lapeer, Macomb Dakota, Monroe, Novi, Okemos, Rochester, South Lyon, Sterling Heights Stevenson, Walled Lake Central, Walled Lake Western, Woodhaven
Division 2: Adrian, Battle Creek Harper Creek, Bay City John Glenn, Birmingham Brother Rice, Carleton Airport, Cedar Springs, Chelsea, Coldwater, Dearborn Divine Child, DeWitt, Dexter, East Grand Rapids, Edwardsburg, Escanaba-Gladstone Bayside Unified (Menominee), Fowlerville, Gibraltar Carlson, Goodrich, Grand Rapids Forest Hills Eastern, Grand Rapids Northview, Hamtramck, Ionia, Jackson, Lake Fenton, Lowell, Ludington, Madison Heights Lamphere, Marshall, Marysville, Melvindale, Middleville Thornapple-Kellogg, Midland, New Boston Huron, Niles, Ortonville Brandon, Petoskey, Plainwell, Pontiac, St. Johns, St. Joseph, South Lyon East, Spring Lake, Stevensville Lakeshore, Warren De La Salle, Wayland Union, Wyoming Godwin Heights, Ypsilanti Community
Division 3: Alma, Almont, Ann Arbor Father Gabriel Richard, Ann Arbor Greenhills, Brooklyn Columbia Central, Caro, Chesaning, Clare, Clawson, Dearborn Heights Star International Academy, Eaton Rapids, Fennville, Frankenmuth, Freeland, Fremont, Gladwin, Grand Rapids Catholic Central, Grand Rapids Covenant Christian, Grand Rapids West Catholic, Grand Rapids West Michigan Aviation Academy, Grass Lake, Grayling, Grosse Ile, Hartford, Hopkins, Ida, Imlay City, Kalkaska, Kingsford, Laingsburg, Lake Odessa Lakewood, Macomb Lutheran North, Manistee, Marine City Cardinal Mooney/Marine City Unified, Milan, Muskegon Oakridge, Onsted, Parchment, Paw Paw, Saginaw Swan Valley, Shelby, South Haven, Unionville-Sebewaing/Cass City Unified, West Branch Ogemaw Heights, Williamston
Division 4 – Grosse Pointe Woods University-Liggett, Muskegon Western Michigan Christian, Adrian Lenawee Christian, Allen Park Cabrini, Allen Park Inter-City Baptist, Auburn Hills Oakland Christian, Bad Axe, Bangor Glenn, Bath, Battle Creek Academy, Birmingham Roeper, Brighton Charyl Stockwell Academy, Brighton Livingston Christian, Buckley, Burton Genesee Christian, Byron Center Zion Christian, Charlevoix, Clarkston Everest Collegiate, Clinton, Dansville, Detroit Cristo Rey, Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian, Grandville Calvin Christian, Harbor Springs, Hillsdale Academy, Holland Black River Academy, Jackson Lumen Christi, Kalamazoo Christian, Kalamazoo Hackett Catholic Prep, Laingsburg, Lansing Christian, Leland, Madison Heights Bishop Foley Catholic, Manchester, Marcellus Howardsville Christian, McBain Northern Michigan Christian, Midland Calvary Baptist, Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central, North Muskegon, Plymouth Christian, Rochester Hills Lutheran Northwest, Roscommon, Royal Oak Shrine Catholic, Saginaw Valley Lutheran, St. Joseph Michigan Lutheran, Southfield Manoogian, Suttons Bay-North Bay Unified (Northport, Lake Leelanau St. Mary’s), Tawas Area, Westland Lutheran Westland, Wyoming Potter’s House Christian
MACS/MCSAA/ACSI/MHSSPA – Bridgeport Baptist, Byron Center West Michigan Home School, Clinton Township Faith Christian, Davison Faith Baptist, Fostoria Baptist, Gladwin Skeels Christian, Hudsonville Home School, Kent City Algoma Christian, Rochester Hills Christian, Romeo Summit Home School, Washtenaw Christian, Bloomfield Hills Christian, Temperance Stateline Christian, Waterford Oakdale Christian
WATCH THE MIHSSCA RANKING SHOW EVERY SUNDAY NIGHT
Are you interested in advertising your businesses on youtube with the Michigan Soccer Network?