By: Butch Harmon
By BUTCH HARMON
High school girls' soccer around the state of Michigan continues to get better each year. This year, the soccer scene both around the state and locally is as strong as ever. Outstanding teams and players abound this spring.
Following is a look at the state of girls' soccer.
Top teams in the state: Northville, Rochester Hills Stoney Creek, Forest Hills Central, Caledonia, Grandville, East Kentwood
Troy won last year’s Division 1 state title but was hit hard by graduation. Northville and Rochester Hills Stoney Creek have the strongest programs in Metro Detroit and have what it takes to make a run to the state finals. From the west side of the state, Grandville has plenty of talent returning from a team that made a dazzling tournament run last year and reached the title game. Forest Hills Central, East Kentwood, and Caledonia will also be battling it out to reach the finals from the west side.
Top area teams: Rockford, Okemos, Midland, Grand Blanc, Heritage
Rockford has reloaded this spring and will again be a major factor in the rugged O-K Red Conference, arguably the strongest conference in the state for girls' soccer. With the return of senior all-stater Kristelle Yewah, Okemos is again the premier Division 1 team in mid Michigan. Yewah scored 20 goals and added 10 assists last year. Midland has a solid team this year, with a balanced offense led by Marle Bringard, Aleisha Jones, and Alecia Traver. Heritage is a solid team out of the Saginaw Valley League that has dangerous offensive performers in Madison Tweddle and Carlee Coughlin.
Top area players: Erin Doster, Okemos; Sophia Guzman, Grand Ledge; Tara Lierman, Holt; Mackenzie Murphy, Fenton; Stacie Skinker, Holt; Maya Piper, Midland Dow; Kristelle Yewah, Okemos; Ashton Miller, Okemos
Top teams in the state: Marian, Gull Lake, Ladywood
Gull Lake rode a strong defense all the way to a state title last spring, and with plenty of key players returning, it will be tough to dislodge from the top spot. Marian finished runner-up last year and has made the final four out of the past five years, so a rematch in the state final could be in the cards this year.
Top area teams: Haslett, Mason, DeWitt, Bay City Western, John Glenn, Mt. Pleasant
With plenty of talent returning, Haslett is primed for a big season. Senior Lydia Roberts is a returning all-state player who scored 18 goals and added 12 assists last year. Caity Colonnese and Mary Clare are two other returning all-state players who helped to lead the Vikings to the regional final last spring. Mason returns plenty of talent as well. Junior Erica Bartlett is a returning all-stater, as is junior Brooke Beaune, who helped lead the Bulldogs to the regional final. DeWitt returns one of the premier offensive players in the area in all-stater Natalie Knauf, who scored 15 goals and added nine assists last year. The Panthers also welcome back all-conference players Brianna Bishop and Abbey Maurer along with Courtney Wood and Quinn Hanses. Bay City Western looks to have one of its best teams in years. The Warriors have a potent offense led by Jennifer Hacker and a solid defense led by Kelsey Haag and Jessica Hacker.
Top area players: Erica Bartlett, Mason; Caity Colonnese, Haslett; Amy Gordon, East Lansing; Natalie Knauf, DeWitt; Emily Reinicke, Eaton Rapids; Lydia Roberts, Haslett; Sierra Sisco, Charlotte
Top teams in the state: Grand Rapids South Christian, Flint Powers, Hudsonville Unity Christian.
Unity Christian and Flint Powers have dominated D3 for the last decade. Up until last year either Unity or Powers had won the title the previous 10 years with Unity winning seven out of nine. Grand Rapids Christian broke the string last year when it defeated Pontiac Notre Dame Prep for the title. This year Unity and Powers have loaded squads so a return to norm is in the cards.
Top area teams: Flint Powers, Frankenmuth, Birch Run, Bay City Western, Williamston, Essexville-Garber, Freeland.
Powers returns as much talent as any team in the state. On defense, goalkeeper Heather Rolls is a dominating keeper who has committed to Georgetown. Senior Morgan McKerchie, headed to Michigan State after this year, keys a high-powered offense that includes the likes of returning all-stater Kennedy Clothier and Gabriela Guerra. Senior midfielder Allyson Haran is headed to Wake Forest next year and is another premier player. Frankenmuth has an outstanding team this year. Senior Kristin Kueffner is a returning all-state player while Claire Carter is a stellar goalkeeper. Layne Davis leads the offense. Freeland has a solid squad led by junior forward Taryn Taugher and midfielder Kelsey Ropp. Birch Run also has a high-powered offense. Jyllian Coggins is a returning all-stater who can score goals in bunches along with junior forward Cheyenne Enderle.
Top area players: Jyllian Coggins, Birch Run; Amanda Dimmer, Williamston, Allyson Haran, Flint Powers; Kristin Kueffner, Frankenmuth; Morgan McKerchie, Flint Powers; Ally Milam, Williamston; Jordan Newman, Lake Fenton; Heather Rolls, Flint Powers; Taryn Taugher, Freeland.
Top teams in the state: Grandville Calvin Christian, Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes/Clarkston Everest Collegiate, Muskegon Western Michigan Christian.
The big question in Division 4 is if anyone can stop the stranglehold that Calvin Christian and Our Lady of the Lakes have had in the state finals. Calvin has defeated Lakes in the Division 4 state finals the last three years and both teams look solid again this year.
Top area teams: Bath, Lansing Christian, Saginaw Nouvel.
Bath returns plenty of talent from a squad that turned in a solid season last year. Senior Renee Paape is a returning all-state player who scored 12 goals last year. The Bees also have a solid defender in Morgan Romel. Lansing Christian reached the state semifinals last year and returns plenty of talent led by all-state defender Mikayla Terry. The Pilgrims also received a huge boost with the return of two-time, all-stater Kristy Gomez who missed all of last year with an injury. Saginaw Nouvel fell to Lansing Christian in the regional finals last year. Nouvel returns plenty of talent this season led by all-state goalkeeper Ali Boucier and all-state forwards Allie Kendall.
Top area players: Ali Boucier, Saginaw Nouvel; Justine Darr, Laingsburg; Kristy Gomez, Lansing Christian; Allie Kendall, Saginaw Nouvel; Renee Paape, Bath; Mikayla Terry, Lansing Christian.