top of page

SUPER 25: Troy, Catholic Central pace deep field of bona fide title contenders




C: (248) 884-1051

TW: @MiSoccerNetwork

Even with all of its successful teams over the last four-plus decades, Troy has only finished on top of the pyramid only one time.

The Colts staked claim to the Division 1 state champions in 2003 even though that wasn’t their most skilled team. Troy has won countless league, district and regional crowns since its first varsity campaign back in 1981.

To win, a side must get hot at the right time. Not to mention stay healthy, get a break or two with a draw, and Troy finished as the OAA Red Division champion last fall and lost only one game all season. The 18-1-4 Colts reached the regional finals in Division 1 before falling to eventual state runner-up New Baltimore Anchor Bay (3-1).

After two weeks of games, very few schools in the state don’t have at least a blemish. The Colts are 5-0-0 through Sept. 1 and open the season as the top team in the Michigan Soccer Network’s Super 25.

What does that mean exactly? Absolutely nothing.

Senior M/F John Palomino (All-State First Team) is a Division I college recruit and a Dream Team candidate after scoring 27 goals the last two years, while senior M Nick Worrell (All-State Third Team) is also back to lead an explosive offense. The Colts bring back 14 total players, including eight starters, and seniors Lukas Larroquette (D), Cater Cusmano (M), Kai Dowling (D), George Hildebrandt (G) and Jimmy Levitt (M) are part of that talented cast.

Seniors Noah Lee (M), Mark Lisnyy (M), Youssef Ibrahim (D), Matthew MAauza (M), Zach Penoza (D) and Jusuf Kercishta (M) along with juniors Ibraheem Dakrouni (F) and Jack Hotts (D) also came off the bench last season and will see increased roles on this deep, athletic team. Three sophomores, Clay Cusmano (M), Johnny Worrell (M) and Nahuel Larroquette (D), could also crack the lineup and provide depth.

Troy has opened the campaign 5-0-0 with three shutouts and a 15-2 scoring edge. With 15 seniors, four juniors and three sophomores, that start is expected. The Colts are experienced as anybody in the state and having tasted defeat only once last season, this group is used to winning and playing together.

This list will change on a daily basis, as well as the Michigan High School Coaches Association’s Top 15 weekly polls in each division will also shuffle around daily. There’s so much depth and parody – especially in Division 1 and Division 2 – that it often comes down to one play, one lucky bounce or some super-human heroic performance to separate any team from another.

Here are some of the other top teams in the state, as schools are beginning to delve into the meat of their league schedules.

Stay tuned to the Michigan Soccer Network over the next week, as the staff will review each division, break down many of the state’s 30-plus conference races, and compile an extensive list of players who could end up garnering All-League, All-District, All-Region or All-State honors in the postseason.

2. NOVI DETROIT CATHOLIC CENTRAL (12-6-3, Division 1, CHSL-Central): After emerging as one of the most successful programs in the state over the past decade, the Shamrocks had a slightly down year in 2021 in terms of not winning any type of championship. Catholic Central finished second in the CHSL-Central Division and lost to Northville in the D-1 district finals. Throw in 14 returnees and two high-level MLS Next Academy players into the mix and this side is for real, as their 7-1-0 start indicates. In the team’s only loss to Midland Dow (2-1), the Shamrocks were missing some key players. The biggest new impact player is senior M/F Kyle Pierson, who has committed to Michigan and has played in the Academy system the last three years. He has 13 goals in seven games. Senior M Ali Jeffer also moves over from the Academy side to try to help CC win a state championship. Senior G Jack Rogers is a sure-handed keeper, while seniors Frank Swanson (D), Drew Pierson (D), Ian Arroyo (D), Aaron Rybicki (D), Lucas Quick (D) and Ryan Taylor (D) make up one of the state’s top defenses. Junior F Lars Larsen is another quality player to watch. The Shamrocks have already beaten the who’s who of high school soccer during the first 15 days of games, topping Northville (2-0), Warren De La Salle (2-1), Clarkston (4-0 and 5-1), Plymouth Canton (3-0), Plymouth Salem (2-0), Saginaw Heritage (7-0) and Birmingham Brother Rice (5-0). In all CC has outscored the opposition 30-4 with five shutouts.

3. PLYMOUTH SALEM (17-5-2, Division 1, KLAA-West): Always a tough side, the Rocks have won three straight district titles and reached the D-1 regional finals last season. A bevy of talent is back for Salem, which will again contend for a KLAA-West and district championships and maybe more. Senior F Garrett Foster is a speed demon and not only one of the top players in the two-division KLAA but in the state as well. Seniors Connor Preston (D), Dylan Clayton (D), Atanas Popov (D/M), Logan Harkins (D) and Griffin Ellis (M/F) and junior Jonathan Wylie (G) are all key players for the Rocks, who are equally able to contend for the KLAA-West crown and make another deep run in the postseason.

4. NORTHVILLE (17-2-4, Division 1, KLAA-West): Here’s an anomaly. Northville has often had a top 20 team in Class A/Division 1 over the last 40-plus years yet have never won an MHSAA state championship. Could this be the year? The Mustangs have started 4-2-0 behind a brutally tough schedule and have talent throughout the park. Northville received a blessing when senior G Andrew Sawcutt (All-State First Team) opted to return after making the cut on an MLS Next Academy roster. He’ll share time with classmates Owen Boukalic and Kadam Mattar, as the team boasts three quality keepers. Junior Nick Settle (D) is one of the state’s best in his class, while this team has 16 total seniors. Amongst the seniors are Alex Nevelos (M), Moreno Scaccia (D), Yuya Nakajima (D), Yuto Agussa (M), Matt Shehab (M), Sonny Karaqi (M) and Adithya Abraham (M) are all key cogs in the quest for titles. Junior newcomer Amir Tascioglu (D/M) and sophomores Jack Lowman (D), Alex McCallum (F) and Haithem Al-Zoubi (F) are all finding time on the field where the Mustangs have been known to rotate

over 20 players a game.

5. CLARKSTON (15-3-2, Division 1, OAA-Red): Coming off three district titles in four seasons, Clarkston will be every bit as good as everybody else near the top of this list when they get all of their players back. Injuries have slowed the Wolves down during the early going. Senior M/F Richie Ludwig (All-State Dream Team) is a man amongst boys and one of the frontrunners for Mr. Soccer, while senior F/M Sebi Roy recently came abord after playing in the Academy system the last few years. Senior D/M Connor Laming is a Division I recruit as a center back and is playing in goal now until senior G Robert Wright (All-State Honorable Mention) comes back from injury. Seniors Michael Sloan (M), Evan Dula (D), Alexander Mascone (D), Bradley Ratliff (F) and Sean Trador (F), juniors Brendan Gerard (M), Robert Wisser (M/F), Brayden Cooper (M) and Tyler Niemi (M), and freshman Cole Cooper (M) add to a deep team. Ludwig and Wisser earned high honors on the club circuit this summer. This should be Clarkston’s best team since finishing as the D-1 state runner-up in 2007. The Wolves began the year 7-2-1 and have scored 33 goals.

6. ROCKFORD (11-6-3, Division 1, OK Conference-Red): All indicators are this is the best team in the Grand Rapids-Muskegon area, as the Rams are loaded throughout the lineup with five all-league players back and a deep talented cast. Seniors Ravian Gumbs (M), Evan McCall (D), Michael Royce (M) and Zenon Fedorowich (D/M), and sophomore Dugan Black (M) al earned either all-league or all-=league honorable mention last season for the Rams, who finished second in the OK Conference Red Division last year. Senior Andrey Bultman (F) is on a scoring tear this season, seniors Brennan Karns (D) and Ben Battreall (M), and sophomore Noah Christian also return, while sophomore Tegan Gumbs is one of the top 10th-grade goalkeepers in the country who turned down offers to play for several MLS Next Academy programs to stick with the Rams and try to win a coveted state title. When healthy, freshmen twins Aidan Flanders (M) and Adam Flanders (M) will be key components and players to watch in the future. Rockford has fielded a competitive squad for the last couple decades yet has lived in the shadows of many premier D-1 and D-2 teams in that area of the state. Could this be the Rams’ breakthrough year?

7. BERKLEY (18-3-2, Division 1, OAA-Red): It seems Berkley has been a model of consistency over the past decade, rarely falling out of the top 20 in Division 1 and that trend should continue. One of many teams from the three-division Oakland Activities Association with high hopes, Berkley finished second in the OAA-Red and reached the district finals last season. Senior F Andriy Bilous (All-State Second Team) had 14 goals and 10 assists last season and is a Dream Team candidate this year. He has interest from several college programs, including some D-I and D-II schools. Senior D Chase McAvoy and junior M Owen Stone have also garnered some college interest. There are 10 seniors on the squad and a host of talented players that have aided a 10-0-0 start that includes two weekend tournament championships. The Bears played mostly D-2, D-3, and D-4 schools early on but followed that up with impressive OAA-Red wins over fellow top-25 program Troy Athens (2-1) and Rochester Stoney Creek (4-1). Berkley has outscored the opposition 31-2 with eight shutouts thus far.

8. SALINE (13-5-2, Division 1, SEC-Red): A 5-2-0 start that features a 23-12 scoring edge has the Hornets creating some buzz. The team’s two losses were to sides above them in the rankings – Clarkston and Salem. Senior F Christian Rossi (All-State First Team) is a Division I recruit and a Mr. Soccer/Dream Team-level talent who is set to lead the Hornets. There are 13 total returnees that includes seniors Luke Allen (D), Drew Baker (M/F), Caleb Popescu (M), Marko Karac (M), Eli Gray (M/F), Collin York (D), Miroslav Karac (M) and Riley Behrman (G). Juniors Connor Mitzel (M), Colin Learman (D/M), Noah Lepore (D) and Michael Bryant (M/F) are also back, while sophomore newcomers Jaedym Sifuna (F) and Jackson Phillips (M) will help the cause. The Hornets won three straight SEC Red Division titles from 2018-2020 before finishing second to Ann Arbor Pioneer last season in a league that featured six quality schools. Saline also reached the D-1 regional finals in 2020 before falling in the district semifinals in overtime last season.

9. RICHLAND-GULL LAKE (20-2-1, Division 2, SWMAC): Former Gull Lake girls soccer coach Jeff Corstange, who led the Blue Devils to three state titles, takes the reigns over for a program that has reached the D-2 Final Four in three of the last four seasons, including the 2020 D-2 state championship and semifinals in 2018 and 2021. Gull Lake has picked up right where it left off last season, starting 8-0-0 with five shutouts and a 33-5 scoring edge. Junior F Ryker Corstange (All-State Honorable Mention) already has some D-I, D-II and NAIA interest and junior G Evan Kaiser (All-State Third Team) are both back. Kaiser will have company in net with junior Braden Minehart, who was the starter on the state title squad but played last season with the Midwest United MLS Next Academy, making a return. Seniors Jazek Zielaskowski (D), Dominic Rodebush (D/M) and Tariku Klipsch (F) and juniors Ethan Carr (M), Tre Reiner (D), Kai Watts (D) and Drew Boucher (D) are also slated for big years. Several of those players are being courted by colleges and earned either All-SWMAC or All-District last season.

10. MIDLAND DOW (20-2-0, Division 1, SVL): After going a perfect 11-0-0 in the Saginaw Valley League last season, the Chargers saw their postseason road end against powerful Traverse City West in the district finals. Dow turned some heads with a 2-1 victory recently over short-handed Detroit Catholic Central and that alone should put this team high amongst some teams that have a real shot of making a Final Four run. The Chargers are 4-1-0 to begin the season. Junior Keegan Luick (G), seniors Danny Safadi (D), Isaac Skinner (F) and James Toole (D/M), junior Chase Horneber (M), sophomore Eli Sotterberg (D) and freshman Niko Scorsone (F) make up the core of this talented cast.

11. BIRMINGHAM BROTHER RICE (10-7-4, Division 2, CHSL-Central): After an up-and-down regular season a year ago, the Warriors finally got hot and made a run to the D-2 state finals before falling to Grand Rapids Christian (2-1). In fact, Rice was unranked entering the postseason and under five-hundfred overall. Although eight players graduated, the bulk of the starting unit is intact and this could be Rice’s best team since serving as a state powerhouse in the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s. the Warriors last won a title in 2009. Seniors Joshua Copeland (M, All-State First Team), Enzo Bordogna (D, All-State Second Team), Evan Thorton (M), Nico Kalaj (M), Phil Chumiecki (D), Liam Hemming (F) and Grant Stice lead the way. Senior Jake Wendt (D), sophomores Anthony Mancani (D) and Ethan Brown (F) are a pair of transfers from Utica Eisenhower, while sophomore Dominic Krestchsmer (D) and freshman James Palazetti (F/M) are also making an impact.

12. TROY ATHENS (13-4-2, Division 1, OAA-Red): Since launching its debut campaign in 1981, Athens has become one of the model programs in the state, winning numerous league, district, regional and state crowns and annually being in the hunt for championships. The school has posted only one losing season. This year’s squad should again be a ranked team in Division 1 that could do some damage against most opponents. Seniors Ben Mahar (D), Yuya Imamura (M), Daniel Watkins (M) and Andrew Graziosi (G) are slated for big years. The Red Hawks have started 4-1-1 with a 20-6 scoring edge. The draw and loss were to squads ranked higher on this list.

13. OKEMOS (20-0-4, Division 1, CAAC-Blue): Although the Chieftains graduated 10 players and eight starters, and with that a ton of firepower, quality programs like Okemos don’t rebuild, they reload. Senior Leo Arana (M, All-State Honorable Mention) is another D-I recruit and possible Dream Team-level player. Senior G Sawyer VanAntwerp and senior D Isaac Freidhoff are the other returning starters, while seniors Alex Gandhi (M), Jack Kosier (D) and Jonah Timm-Blow (D), juniors Sabin Russell (F) and Charlie Stover (M), and sophomore Griffin White (G) were also on the state championship roster. Juniors Brandon Baldwin (D) and Pako Auras (F) are the top newbies. Okemos is 5-0-2 this season with a 16-2 scoring differential. The Chieftains are 25-0-6 over the last 1.25 seasons and have not lost since Oct. 27, 2000, in the D-1 regional semifinals to Traverse City West (4-0). From 2020 to 2022, Okemos is 30-3-10.

14. ST. JOSEPH (17-2-3, Division 2, SWMAC): The Bears won the regular season title last season and finished second in the conference tournament before reaching the Division 2 regional finals. Although some of the offensive firepower was lost to graduation, St. Joseph is still playing solid soccer behind a 7-0-1 start. In the first two weeks the Bears have recorded four clean sheets and outscored the opposition 30-4. Senior M Christian Brown is a high Division I recruit and could emerge as a Dream Team/Mr. Soccer candidate if the Bears advance deep into the D-2 tournament come late October. Senior F Henrique Czesnat and juniors Johnny Strickler (M) and Zach Borre (D) also return. Sophomore F Matheus Bassani Bossardi and junior G Caleb Rellis have both stepped into starting roles and have excelled so far this fall.

15. ANN ARBOR PIONEER (16-2-2, Division 1, SEC-Red): Winners of D-1 district crowns in two of the last three seasons, the defending SEC Red Division champions have six players from the school playing in the MLS Next Academy circles which hurts, but the Pioneers still field a quality side when healthy. Pioneer has started 4-1-2 with five shutouts and a 13-7 scoring edge. The Pioneers have one of the state’s top backstops in senior keeper Zach Wilhelm. Seniors Lucas Anderson (F), Diego Rivera (F/M, Samuel Kennard (D) and Tyler Wilkins (D) also return. Sory Yansane (D), Leo Wilsenky (F), Joshua Jacob (M) and Alexander Reifler (D) lead a deep and talented sophomore class.

16. TRAVERSE CITY WEST (16-5-2, Division 1, Big North Conference): Not much has change for the Titans over the years, as they seemingly graduate key players every year and the pipeline quickly replenishes itself. West has won 12 straight Big North Conference titles, captured three straight district crowns and finished as the D-1 state runner-up in both 2019 and 2020. The Titans lost in the regional finals to eventual state champion Okemos last season. Senior Luke Wieresma (D) is back to lead a backline that returns every starter. Senior Ben Carlson (M) is the only player back from the 2020 runner-up squad. Seniors Ian Robertson (M) and Henrik Buttleman (D) are also slated for big years, while sophomore Aiden Orth (F), senior Trae Collins (G) and junior Noah Dorsch (M) will all have increased roles. Junior Jackson Cote (M) leads the newcomers.

17. DEARBORN FORDSON (11-6-2, Division 1, KLAA-East): Fordson is another team that has cracked the rankings in recent years. But this year’s side may be its best, as an 8-0-0 start indicates. The Tractors have outscored the opposition 31-2 this season with seven shutouts. Seniors Hassan Faraj (D), Yayha Alhawati (M), Abdulrahman Ahmed (M), Mohamed Tlays (M) and Ammar Alwaeli (G) all return. Sophomore M Mahmoud Mido Assi comes over with some high club credentials form the Michigan Tigers national championship squad and leads a cast of six talented 10th-graders on the varsity.

18. LIVONIA STEVENSON (15-4-0, Division 1, KLAA-East): Always one the favorites in the KLAA-East, the Spartans annually contend for league and district championships. Stevenson started then campaign 2-1-0. Senior F Carter Mroz (All-State Honorable Mention) is one of the top returning players in the entire KLAA, while fellow seniors Drake Graham (F), Griffin Browning (MF) and Colin Whitney (D) all return. Junior G Noah Reider is also one of the better keepers in the KLAA. The Spartans boast 13 juniors and eight seniors.

19. PLYMOUTH CANTON (12-8-3, Division1, KLAA-West): With 15 seniors, 12 juniors and one sophomore, Canton is another experienced side that hopes to contend in a loaded KLAA-West and for a district title. Senior Wesley Hart (D) is the leader of this bunch, while seniors Christian Presley (D/F), Reese Austin (D), Jorge Beas (F) and Kosi Ibegbu (D) are returning starters. Seniors Elliot Cialone (D), Michael Sadowski (F), Brendan Burns (M), Riley Genthe (D), Lukas Schafeer (G) and Luciano Testa (G), and juniors Anthony Yono (D), Brayden Fedulchak (M) and Austin O’Sullivan (M) also return. Juniors Donovan Thomas (F) and Salvatore Orlandi (M) and sophomore Bruno Delgrado (F) are key newcomers for the Chiefs. Canton recently won state titles in 2011 and 2014 and finished as the state runner-up in 2015, and this is likely its most talented team since that stretch.

20. GRAND RAPIDS SOUTH CHRISTIAN (22-0-3, Division 3, OK Conference-Gold): As good programs often do, they reload. That’s what second-year coach Joel VandeKopple is betting, as the Sailors graduated a solid core from its D-3 state championship squad. South Christian also won state titles in 2010, 2012 and 2015 while finishing as the state runner-up in 2007, 2013, 2019 and 2020. The Sailors began the season 5-0-2 with a 18-1 scoring differential and six shutouts. Seniors Sam Bos (M), Sam Mendendorp (F), Henry Mast (D), Gabe Trifan (D) and Jerred DeVries (F) all started games a year ago during the unbeaten season. Seniors Nick Bultje (G), Derrick Miedema (D) and Nick Koster (M) also return along with junior Nick Logan (D).

21. RIVERVIEW (15-5-1, Division 2, Huron League): Riverview is a program that has dented the rankings in the last five years and now is a very feared side. The Pirates began the season 9-1-0 and will be ranked in its division. Riverview already owns a 2-0 victory over 12-time defending league champion Grosse Ile, the same program it finished behind in the standings last season. This year the Pirates have outscored the opposition 34-9 with three clean sheets. Junior Denis Oglecevac (F) is an electric goal-scorer who was All-State Third Team for a team that lost in the regional semifinals to Birmingham Brother Rice. Seniors Jacob Bias (D), Jakob LeBlanc (G), Jakob Rose (F), Matthew Wong (M), Caden Demers (F, All-State Honorable Mention) and Caleb Litten (D) along with junior TJ Aciutto (M, All-State Honorable Mention) are back. There are 14 seniors on the roster.

22. FENTON (17-2-2, Division 2, FML): The defending Flint Metro League champions (10-0-1) have a new coaching staff for the first time since the late 1990s and must replace a lot of talented players. Shel Kunji takes the reigns and will try to keep the Tigers at or near the top of the standings. Fenton is 5-0-0 on the year and outscored the opposition 18-4. Senior Will Dickens (F), Patrick Hamilton (M) and Tyler Hahn (D) pave the way for Fenton, which reached the D-2 finals last season.

23. BIRMINGHAM DETROIT COUNTRY DAY (11-7-2): With 15 MHSAA state championships and one other state title in the old coaches association state tournament in the late 1970s, DCD is the state’s all-time leader in boys soccer state championships. With several returnees aiding a 7-1-0 start, this team should again be in contention in Division 3. Senior F Ben Farah (All-State First Team) is a college prospect that has scored nine goals in eight games to begin the year. Sophomore G Finn Hounsell, junior M/F Zack Roger, junior M Andrew Brantano, junior M Stephen Brantano and sophomore D Alex Eby are also back to lead the way. This is actually a younger team with only three seniors, so don’t expect the Yellowjackets to go away any time soon.

24. ROCHESTER ADAMS (6-10-3, Division 1, OAA-Red): After finishing at or below five-hundred the last three seasons is quite uncharacteristic for this program. All indicators show the Highlanders are set to return to the top half of the OAA Red Division and perhaps back to prominence. Junior F/D Jackson Craft is back to lead Adams. Most of the Highlanders’ roster is back and some MLS Next Academy defections have helped a 3-1-2 start and four shutouts. Senior D Luke Rosin and sophomore M Alex Rosin will help after playing in the Vardar Academy system last season. Junior G John Coon is back in net.

25. GRAND HAVEN (10-9-2, Division 1, OK Conference-Red): After finishing fifth in the OK-Red last season, Grand Haven captured a district title and this season have started 4-0-2. Seniors Ryan Heck (M), Kyler Cotton (D) and Blake Jarmosco (F) are back to lead the Buccaneers. Junior Andrew Raven (F) leads the newcomers.


ANN ARBOR HURON (9-5-3, Division 1, SEC-Red): Sitting in the shadows of the likes of Pioneer, Skyline, Saline and Dexter, Huron is hoping to sneak in and contend with the group for the SEC-Red and district titles. Juniors Will Cook-Diamond (D) and Gavin Brooks (D), seniors Nana Nkansah (F) and Brandon Garduno (F), and sophomore Amadou Kouyate (M) all come in with high club credentials and look to lead this side.

ANN ARBOR SKYLINE (14-4-3, Division 1, SEC-Red): The Eagles won state championships in 2013 and 2018 and had a quality side last year. But some bad misfortune of allowing late goals in key games last year haunted Skyline and cost them championships. Sophomore jumping-jack Noah Silkworth is also a D-I basketball recruit that has drawn waves of praise and junior Bailey Edison and sophomore Max Adox gives this team two capable keepers in net. Adox earned high honors for the national championship U-15 Michigan Tigers over the summer. Seniors Graham Unsworth (M) and Connor Alderman (F) are two experienced performers for the Eagles, who field their youngest team in years.

BIRMINGHAM SEAHOLM (5-8-3, Division 1, OAA-White): After a down year last season, the Maples are looking to rebound and contend in the OAA White Division and for a district title. Seaholm started the campaign 4-0-2.

CLINTON TOWNSHIP CHIPPEWA VALLEY (5-11-3, Division 1, MAC-Red): After a rebuilding year in 2021, the Big Reds have started strong this year with a 3-0-1 ledger. Chippewa Valley should contend in a wide-open MAC Red Division title as well as contend for a district trophy.

DEARBORN EDSEL FORD (15-3-1, Division 1, Downriver League): After playing second fiddle to Woodhaven the last several years, the Thunderbirds hope to challenge for the Downriver League title this season after finishing second (8-1-1) a year ago. Three All-League players are back, led by seniors Hassan Altooli (F), Lucas Zalek (D) and Saleh Yafai (D). Seniors Ali Asfar (F), Wali Algahmi (M) and Gabriel Omer (D) are also back. Junior Ali Kawtharani (G) is a steady goalkeeper. Edsel Ford lost in the D-1 district finals last season to Grosse Pointe South (2-1), and that team went on to reach the state semifinals.

DETROIT U-D JESUIT (7-9-3, Division 1, CHSL-Central): After dipping under five-hundred last season, the Cubs are primed for better fortunes even though they play a tough schedule. Senior Brandon Alchy (M), junior Cam Simpson (D), senior Maxwell Hendrix (F), who was injured last season, and junior Myles Purdy (M/F) are the key cogs in this attack.

DEWITT (17-6-1, Division 2, CAAC-Blue): DeWitt has ventured to the D-2 Final Four each of the past two seasons but face some question marks despite bringing back 10 players to the roster. Senior Lucas Perez (M) is a college recruit, while seniors Caiden McDonald (D), Sam Aeschliman (D), Sampson Sprague (D), Jack Clark (D), Aiden Aldrich (M) and Aaron Ellwsworth (M), and juniors Brayden Powers (M), Ian Fowler (M) and Jonathan Schwarz (G) also return, and all will have more significant roles. Juniors Nathaniel Torrence (M) and Joey Farhat (M) and sophomore Ruslan Masalatin (M) lead the newcomers.

EAST GRAND RAPIDS (11-3-7, Division 2, OK Conference-White): MLS Next Academy defections have surely hurt EGR in recent years, although this season they should have enough talent to be one of the better teams in D-2 and possibly make a run. Last year the Pioneers won the OK-Conference-White and lost in the district finals to eventual state champion Grand Rapids Christian. This year’s 4-1-1 start is against all quality teams led by seniors Ben Borak (M), Peter Cannon (D), Micah Daniels (D), Baxter Bass (M) and Logan Becker (F), and four of those players earned all-league recognition last season. This is a senior-heavy team with 16 seniors with goals of playing on the season’s final day. Freshman F Ethan Brinker is another to watch.

EAST LANSING (14-4-2, Division 1, CAAC-Blue): The co-champs of the CAAC- Blue Division last season is in its third year of D-1 competition after decades of being in D-2. There is still plenty of holdover talent from last year’s squad, including seniors Jake Hornbach (M), Holden Knapp (M), Nick Chenault (M), Julian Liebler (M), Ben Novello (D), Temi Dokubanjo (D), Charlie Moeder (D), Isaiah Smith (G) and Paul Tyszkiewicz (D).

EAST KENTWOOD (18-2-2, Division 1, OK Conference-Red): Very few programs regardless of division have enjoyed as much success as the Falcons over the past 20 seasons. East Kentwood captured five state titles (2007, 2008, 2010, 2012 and 2016), finished as the state runner-up once (2018) and won several OK Conference Red Division and D-1 district titles along the way. That was under legendary coach John Conlon, who retired after last season. New coach Giuseppe Barone, a former standout with EK, has his team off to a 4-3-0 start, as many of the team’s key players graduated or bolted for MLS Next Academy programs.

EDWARDSBURG (8-5-3, Division 2, Wolverine B Conference): Not a traditional power, Edwardsburg hopes to dent the rankings and make its mark in 2022. The Eddies are 6-2-0 to start the campaign and outscored the opposition 25-15. Edwardsburg was third in the Wolverine B Conference last year behind Plainwell and Vicksburg. Senior F Alex Hernandez paces the Eddies.

FLINT POWERS CATHOLIC (13-10-2, Division 3, SVL): The Chargers compete in the Saginaw Valley League, which is made up of Division 1 and Division 2 schools except Powers Catholic, which is Division 3. Last year the Chargers finished fifth in the SVL yet played tough enough of a schedule to advance all the way to the D-3 Final Four. Juniors Landon McAvoy (M/F) and Brady Lendzion (M/F) are both third-year starters and set to lead this side. Senior Tanner Towns, juniors Gage Hain (F/M) and Sean O’Brien (M), sophomores Leo Stravos (D) and Armando Lopez III (G) and freshman prospect Logan Johnson (D) will aid the cause. There are only three seniors gaining playing time on a young roster.

GRAND RAPIDS CATHOLIC CENTRAL (7-7-3, Division 3, OK Conference-Gold): The D-3 state champions back in 2016 is back on the rise and a 3-1-1- beginning to the 2022 campaign is a good sign. In contrast the Cougars were only fifth in a deep OK Conference-Gold Division last season but lost in the D-3 district finals to eventual state champion Grand Rapids South Christian (2-1). Senior G Marco Naraez (All-State Honorable Mention) and junior D/M Ben Smitley (All-State First Team) are two quality players set to lead this bunch back to prominence.

GRAND RAPIDS CHRISTIAN (17-7-2, Division 2, OK Conference-White): After regrouping at state tournament time and making a run to the D-2 state title after finishing second in the Ottawa Kent Conference White Division, the Eagles must reload its arsenal. All of the players that earned All-State, All-Region, All-District and All-League graduated. In fact, 12 players departed via graduation. Grand Rapids Christian started 2-2-3 as the Eagles are working in seven new starters and developing some depth. Seniors Alexander Scofield (G), Ian Velzen-Haner (M) and Jonathan Clarkin (M) and junior Carter Goodyke (D) are the returning starters. Senior Ethan Lenters (D), juniors Grayson Montpetit (M) and Jackson Mindling (M) and sophomore John Cassiday (M/F) will all see increased roles.

GRAND RAPIDS FOREST HILLS CENTRAL (10-11-1, Division 2, OK Conference-White): The Rangers captured a district crown in D-2 last season and are back up in Division 1 this season. Senior Noah Gleason (D, All-State Third Team)) and juniors Kyle Webb (D/F, All-State Honorable Mention) and Jayden Saoin (F) all earned All-League honors last season. Seniors Omar Hadzimujic (M) earned All-District accolades. So far this year FHC is 4-0-1 with a 10-4 scoring edge and two shutouts.

GRAND RAPIDS FOREST HILLS EASTERN (8-8-4, Division 2, OK Conference-Gold): Eastern only graduated six players and hopes to contend for league and district crowns. Seniors Noah Pfister (D), Austin Tucker (M), Clune Van Endel (M) and Cody Soey (D), junior Tobias Thielmann (F) and sophomore Brady Vandenberg (M) lead the way. FHE has started 4-0-1. There is also some youth on this roster with six sophomores dotting the jersey along with seven juniors and a solid 10-player senior class.

GRAND RAPIDS FOREST HILLS NORTHERN (9-8-1, Division 2, OK Conference-White): A 4-1-0 start has created some buzz for this team, which ventured through a rebuilding campaign a year ago. The Huskies were only fifth in the OAA-White last year and lost in the district finals. Seniors Nate Biebel (M), Leo Tilly (F), Grant Ferguson (M/D), Mitchell Senniger (D) and Nathan McGlinchey (M) along with junior Jaden Polizzi (D) make up the core of this team.

GRAND RAPIDS NORTHVIEW (13-4-4, Division 2, OK Conference-White): Despite graduating three of its four All-State players from last season, Northview figures to be in the OK Conference White Division race this year after tying for third last season. Seniors Colin Jones (D, All-State Honorable Mention) and Mitchell Senniger (D) lead the way. Northview is 1-1-2 to begin the campaign.

GROSSE ILE (21-2-1, Division 3, Huron League): The Red Devils captured their 12th straight Huron League title last season before venturing to their fourth straight state finals appearance in Division 3. Grosse Ile lost in the finals to Grand Rapids South Christian (3-1) after winning crowns in 2019 and 2020 and finishing as the runner-up in 2018. This team is much younger and has battled through some injuries in a slow 1-2-0 start. Seniors Hayden Watson (G, All-State Third Team), Joe Molnar (M), Cannon Kawadri (M, All-State First Team, Tyler Slowik (D) and Drake Rossi (M) and junior Ali Khaled (D, All-State First Team) are returning starters. Junior James Duke (F/G) and sophomore Landon Bourdage (M) saw plenty of time off the bench for a team that carried 13 seniors on the roster last season. There are only six seniors this year while the roster also features five juniors, seven sophomores and one freshman.

GROSSE POINTE SOUTH (17-4-1, Division 1, MAC-Red): The Blue Devils enjoyed one of their best seasons in school history last fall, winning the Macomb Area Conference White Division and making a deep run in the D-1 state tournament before falling in the state semifinals. A total of 15 or the 24 players on that roster graduated and South must retool its lineup with mostly new starters. The Blue Devils started 2-2-0, although both losses came against schools in the Super 25. South earned an upgrade to the MAC Red Division this year.

HOLLAND (15-5-2, Division 2, OK Conference-Green): Usually a top-tier team in D-2 over the last decade, Holland has been hit hard by graduation and MLS Next Academy defections the last couple years and has started slow with a 2-3-1 record. Seniors Fletcher Van Howe (M), Timothy Phillips (F), Nolan Currier (G) and junior Owen Ceithaml (M) are all key players. Seniors Saul Perez (D), Adrian Perez (D), Mitchell VanMeter (D), Javier Garcia (M), Luis Barajas (M) and Marek Krimendahl (M) also gained minutes at the varsity level last season. Holland won the OK Conference Green Division and D-2 district titles last season.

HOLLAND CHRISTIAN (14-3-2, Division 3, OK Conference-Green): The perennial powerhouse Maroons have been a mainstay in the D-3 rankings for years and that should continue again this fall. Holland Christian began the campaign 5-1-1. Seniors Daniel Morgan (GK), Caden Brink (D) and Lucas Freriks (M), and junior Lake VanderPloeg (M) return.

HUDSONVILLE UNITY CHRISTIAN (14-5-1, Division 3, OK Conference-Blue): The legendary coach Randy Heethuis retired from the Unity boys soccer program after last season and Ian Billen takes over a program that started 3-2-1. Unity Christian finished third in the OK Conference-Blue Division last season only to be upset in a D-3 pre-district by Grand Rapids West Catholic. Historically, Unity Christian won state titles in 2007 (D-2), 2009 (D-2), 2012 (D-2), 2014 (D-3) and 2018 (D-3) and finished as the state runner-up in 1975 (Coaches Association Class C-D), 1982 (Class B-C), 1984 (Class B-C), 2005 (D-2) and 2011 (D-3). This year’s group will be led by seniors Colin Nieuwenhuis (M, All-State Second Team) and Jackson Zuidema (M).

IMLAY CITY (20-4-2, Division 3, BWAC): The Spartans are another program on the rise and could do some serious damage this season in Division 3. Imlay City was perfect in the Blue Water Area Conference (12-0-0) last season and reached the regional semifinals before falling to Williamston (4-1). This year the Spartans have won five straight to go to 5-2-0 on the year and welcome back four players who earned multiple postseason accolades last season. Seniors Giovanni Torres (M, All-State Second Team), Sergio Galina (F, All-State Third Team), Edson Zepeda (D, All-State Honorable Mention) and Luis Barragan (D, All-State Honorable Mention) are standouts to hope to lead the Spartans to unchartered waters this fall.

MACOMB DAKOTA (13-2-2, Division 1, MAC-Red): After finishing second in the Mac Red Division and reaching the D-1 district finals last season, the Cougars must reload in a hurry as 14 players including eight starters graduated. The returning starters include seniors Giuseppe Mangiapane (M/F), Eli Bellew (D/M) and Cameron Davis (F). Seniors Dominic Celestini (G), Luke Pokone (D/M), Alex Mihajlovski (D) and Blake Dowlby (M) and junior Bracen Binford (M) will also help the cause.

MARQUETTE (20-2-1, Upper Peninsula Division 1, Independent): The 14-time Upper Peninsula Division 1 champions graduated 11 of 20 players from last season’s team, which may have been the Redmen’s best squad yet. The cupboard is not bare as the 6-2-1 start and the Alpena Sunrise Tournament championship indicates. Senior F Max Dawson is a college recruit and holds most of the school’s single-game, season and career scoring records. Seniors Evan Sysko (D), Ezra Pickard (M/F), Isaac Johnson (M) and Evan Sandstrom (M) are steady players, while junior Hunter Sandstrom (D) and sophomores Kaleb Chipelewski (F) and Indigo Catalano (D) also return. Sophomores Jack Sysko (M), Cody Slavek (F), Seamus White (M) and Henry Wood (M) are amongst the top newcomers.

MARSHALL (18-3-1, Division 2, Interstate 8 Athletic Conference): After being a dominant foe last season, winning the Interstate 8 Athletic Conference and D-2 district titles, Marshall must forge on with mostly new starters this season. Marshall does boast one special player in senior F Josh Pugh (All-State First Team), a Division I college recruit who has 76 goals and 19 assists in his career entering the campaign. Senior Micah Martinson (M) and juniors Griff Klein (D), Nick Ferreira (M), Dominic Dent (F), Brendan Conlat (M) and Matt Willis (D) are the other holdovers from last year’s team.

MATTAWAN (9-8-1, Division 1, SWMAC): Mattawan has been bouncing back and forth between D-2 and D-1 the last four years and now is back in D-1. Seniors Sawyer Devenport (F, All-State Honorable Mention), Camdon Page (M/F), Brayden Earls (M/F), Will Kuiper (D) and Jacob Waterlander (D/M) along with juniors Eason Haller (M/F) and Caden Cochran (M/F) all return. Mattawan sat 4-2-0 entering Labor Day Weekend.

MIDDLEVILLE THORNAPPLE KELLOGG (16-4-2, Division 2, OK Conference-Gold): After finishing second in the OK Conference Gold Division to D-3 state champion Grand Rapids South Christian and losing in the D-2 district finals to powerhouse Richland Gull Lake, the Trojans hope to make some noise this season. Seniors Jackson Curtis (M, All-State Third Team), Austin Chivis (F, All-State Honorable Mention) and Terrell Jefferson (D)have led MTK to a 7-2-0 start and have helped the Trojans outscore the opposition 32-12.

MIDLAND (16-3-2, Division 1, SVL): Midland finished second to Midland Dow last season and has a nice collection of club players from the Midland Fusion that should keep this team in the top three in the league and contend for a district title. Seniors Cole Schelb (F), Abe Haddad (D), Cole Carpenter (M) and Trent Midlan (M) are returning starters, while fellow senior Carson Snyder (M) was home-schooled in recent years but has joined the fold this season. Seniors Andrew Stager (D), Joshua Thurlow (F/G), Keondre Giroux (G) and sophomore Sam Roble (G) are also key players for the Chemics.

MUSKEGON MONA SHORES (8-7-3, Division 1, OK Conference-Green): This is another team that should enjoy a step up and contend for league and district championships this season and maybe more. Senior Abe Frye (M) returns after a year of playing with Midwest United’s MLS Next Academy and is a standout. Seniors Dan Vanrerploeg (M/F) and Kaden Pulaski (F), and juniors Easton Lopez (F/M) Dylan Brown (G) and Mark Semlow (G) also return for the Sailors. Mona Shores already holds a 3-1 victory over defending divisional champion Holland.

NEW BALTIMORE ANCHOR BAY (22-2-1, Division 1, MAC-Red): The Tars built up for last year as one of the state’s premier teams and finished as the Division 1 state runner-up. This year Anchor Bay must reload with several first-year starters. Senior M/F Gavin LaMere and senior D/F Teddy Labaz are the tow returning starters, while seniors Francesco DiLorenzo (M/F), Casey Grammens (M/F), Sean Halanski (D), senior, D, Cole Smith (M/F), Gabe Smith (F) and Jacob Thurau (D), and juniors Garrett Pouget (F) and Connor Turala (G) also return. Several newcomers hoping to crack the lineup include seniors Billy Bingham (D), Braylon Humes (F) and Max Patino (M), and juniors Ian Alessandro (D), Nate DeWitte (F), Robby Dimoski (D), Caden Earle (M), Max Grammens (M/F), Tyler Jenks (M/D), Antonio Kiricovski (M), Jace Landa (D) and Vilay Thammavongsa (D).

PONTIAC NOTRE DAME PREP (11-7-5, Division 3, Independent): After an upset loss to Michigan Center in last year’s D-3 regional semifinals to Michigan Center, NDP has bounced back quickly and should be ranked high in D-3 this season. Senior Santion Bidwald (M) and juniors Jake Lanham (D), Nicholas Liparaoto (M), Eddie Aboud (D), Robert Strimpel (D) and Owen Thieme (G) are the top prospects. Thieme made an MLS Next Academy roster but opted out of that season to try to help the Irish contend for a state title. Freshmen Matthew Marshesh (M) and Ben Liparoto (M) will also help this side. Notre Dame Prep started 5-1-1.

PARMA WESTERN (7-6-0, Division 2, Interstate 8 Athletic Conference): After winning 18 games and reaching the D-2 regional finals in 2019, Western is primed for another championship-style season with an experienced group. A 28-4 scoring edge has aided a 5-0-0 start.

PETOSKEY (17-4-3, Division 2, Big North Conference): After finishing second in the BNC last season to Traverse City West, Petoskey made a run to the regional finals. This year the Northmen started 6-4-0. Seniors Dylan Aldridge (F) and Jackson Jonker (G) are two of the best players in northern Michigan. Seniors Parker Streiff (M), Aidan Norton (D) and Marek Beckering (D) and juniors Wyatt Masterson (M) and Michael Squires are also key players.

PLAINWELL (12-2-4, Division 2, Wolverine B Conference): Plainwell captured the Wolverine B Conference last season before being upset in a D-2 pre-district to Otsego (1-0, 2OT). That was after an eight-game win streak to close the regular season which landed the Trojans inside the D-2 Top 15. Plainwell has played some quality programs to start the campaign and are 3-3-0. Senior Sam Gibson (M, All-State Honorable Mention) is the top returning player for a program that has won seven straight league titles.

PORTAGE CENTRAL (9-5-3, Division 1, SWMAC): Despite bringing back a solid core, the Mustangs only started 2-2-2. Last year they finished fourth out of 10 schools in a deep Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference. Seniors Tristen Spettel (M) and Ethan Tiller (M) are fourth-year varsity veterans and fellow seniors Parker Damaska (F), Ben Myers (M), Brayden Lancaster (G), Carolos Rangel (M) and Evan Cooper (M) also return.

PORTAGE NORTHERN (10-7-4, Division 1, SWMAC): A 2-0-2 start isn’t surprising for a program like the Huskies. What’s impressive is that 14 players graduated and the players waiting in the wings are starting to deliver. There are eight seniors, 11 juniors, one sophomore and one freshman on the Huskies roster this season.

RIVERVIEW (15-5-1, Division 2, Huron League): Riverview is a program that has dented the rankings in the last five years and now is a very feared side. The Pirates began the season 9-1-0 and will be ranked in its division. Riverview already owns a 2-0 victory over 12-time defending league champion Grosse Ile, the same program it finished behind in the standings last season. This year the Pirates have outscored the opposition 34-9 with three clean sheets. Junior Denis Oglecevac (F) is an electric goal-scorer who was All-State Third Team for a team that lost in the regional semifinals to Birmingham Brother Rice. Seniors Jacob Bias (D), Jakob LeBlanc (G), Jakob Rose (F), Matthew Wong (M), Caden Demers (F, All-State Honorable Mention) and Caleb Litten (D) along with junior TJ Aciutto (M, All-State Honorable Mention) are back. There are 14 seniors on the roster.

SOUTH LYON (7-3-4, Division 1, LVC): Runners-up in the Lakes Valley Conference (4-1-3) last season, South Lyon has 14 seniors this season as the Lions hope to have a breakthrough in the state tournament. For years, South Lyon has sat in the shadows of many state powers in that area of the state. Brayden Demby (D), Adam Mason (M) and Brennan McGillen (D) and junior Shilen Britton (M) found their way onto the all-conference list last season.

SOUTH LYON EAST (6-6-4, Division 2, LVC): After finishing at the five-hundred mark last season, South Lyon East is fielding a team that should contend in the Lakes Valley Conference. Senior M/F Luke Nicholson has spent the last three years in the MLS Next/Developmental Academy system and is now playing high school for the first time. He has more than a dozen D-I college offers and is a Dream Team-level talent. Seniors Dylan Rushak (M), Trevor Atkins (D), Evan Miller (D) and junior Manaki Watanabe (M/F) all earned All-League honors a year ago.

SPRING LAKE (15-3-3, Division 2, OK Conference-Blue): A tough schedule to start the 2022 campaign has left Spring Lake with a 3-3-0 record. Last year the Lakers finished third in a deep OK Conference Blue Division and won a D-2 district championship before falling to eventual D-2 state champion Grand Rapids Christian (5-1) in the regional semifinals. Seniors Conrad Bush (M, All-State Third Team), Jack Mulder (D) and Jaxson Tober (M) are returning starters.

UTICA (10-8-3, Division 1, MAC-White): Utica only played three games before the holiday weekend, but all indications are the Chieftains should be one of the top teams from the Macomb Area conference regardless of division. Utica should compete for a MAC White Division title. Seniors Jon Russell (M) and Luca Dedivanaj (F) and juniors Vincenzo Maltese (M) and Gabriel Capelj (M) are key players. There are eight seniors and 13 juniors on the Chieftains’ roster.

UTICA EISENHOWER (11-6-5, Division 1, MAC-Red): After an up-and-down campaign in 2021, the Eagles caught fire at the end of last year and won a tough district before falling in the D-1 regional semifinals. A total of 12 players graduated and two others transferred. Eisenhower has a new coaching staff this season and a solid core of returnees to work with this year. Junior Jordan Klein (D/M) is one of the state’s better players in his class and fellow juniors Joseph Chirco (M) and Jozef Palushaj are also back. Seniors Ryan Bordman (G), Mikel Hysa (M) and Jackson Pikunas (D) are also returnees.

WALLED LAKE NORTHERN (8-5-2, Division 1, LVC): Northern is a team that has a new coaching staff and is coming off a rebuilding year. There are four players back who were either All-League or All-League Honorable Mention in the Lakes Valley Conference last season. Seniors Joey Iaqaniello (M), John Dickmeyer (D), Jordan Petrovski (M) and Tyler Watson (D) are back to lead the Knights.

WARREN DE LA SALLE (11-7-4, Division 2, CHSL-Central): The Pilots emerged as the CHSL Central Division champion last year and won a district with a senior-heavy roster. This year’s team is somewhat inexperienced due to the fact that many seniors and juniors played junior varsity ball last season. Seniors Zach Fammininel (M), Jacob Dupke (M), Michele Pizzo (F) and Jeremiah Johnson (G) are the returning starters, while senior Dean Oakie (M/F) will see a more significant role.

ZEELAND EAST (11-5-5, Division 2, OK Conference-Green): Not a traditional powerhouse, Zeeland East is coming off a fourth-place finish in the OK Conference Green Division. This could be a sleeper pick in D-2 this season to go far, as the Chix return a bulk of their talent. Seniors Caleb Swartzendruber (M) and Isaac Fernandez (F) lead the way. East began the season with an impressive 5-1-0 record and outscored the opposition 13-5.

857 views0 comments
bottom of page