Top 40 Boys Soccer HS Teams: Mason is tops, Detroit CC and Adams followSoccer  |
The sport of boys soccer has grown steadily over the past four decades in Michigan.
More and more schools have not only added the sport but have developed rich talent pools to become noteworthy opponents over the years.
The number of club teams has increased dramatically and coaches have raised their level of expertise.
College coaches have long since become knowledgeable about the soccer talent pool in this state, where the well never runs dry.
The level has created more parity, especially at the Division 1 and Division 2 levels. As one Division 1 coach said, “there’s around 20-25 teams that have a chance. There’s not much difference between them, except maybe a 10-second stretch where a team scores a goal in a close game.”
The commitment made by many top level players to U.S. Soccer, where schedules are over 10 months long, has had an effect on high school soccer. These high-level prospects who chose to participate in the U.S. Soccer program don’t compete on their respective high school teams due to overlapping seasons and scheduling conflicts. Most governing bodies, including the Michigan High School Athletic Association, do not allow student-athletes to compete for their high school team and a U.S. Soccer academy team at the same time.
This has some effect on a number of programs throughout the state.
Below are the programs to watch this season, as StateChampsNetwork debuts its all-division Fab 40 preseason teams, many which are off to fine starts in 2015.
1. MASON (19-2-2): In the past three decades Division 2 Mason has always fielded a strong side, even though it has not won a title since 1997. The Bulldogs, unaffected by any academy losses, are 3-1 all-time in title games and reached the state semifinals last season before falling in a shootout to eventual state champion East Lansing. Led by Mr. Soccer candidate Leutrim Shefkiu, an All-State Dream Team pick last year who anchors the midfield, this team has the star power to carry the Bulldogs. Six other starters are back, as senior D Holden Dippel (All-State Third Team), senior D John Kingman (All-State Third Team), junior F Lirim Shefkiu, sophomore F Tristan Pease, senior M Christian Jordan and senior M Gaven Smith are also back. Senior G Lance Garrison, senior M Austin Ruetter, senior D Mike Liberato, junior D Jarod Chrome and sophomore M Caleb Graham are others on this deep roster that should make an impact. Mason has won 13 consecutive league titles and defeated East Lansing, 2-1, earlier this season.
2. DETROIT CATHOLIC CENTRAL (14-5-4): The defending Catholic League champions could have their best team since the 1990s and a 6-0-1 start with wins over Rochester Adams and Utica Eisenhower validate the scouting report. Senior Peter Kirouac is sterling between the pipes and seniors Justin Murray, Cole Moscovic and Matt Turton anchor a stingy backfield. Senior M Jared Lee and senior F Anthony Chavez are all returning starters. Senior M Ben Sargent, senior D Patrick Fleming and senior M Nick Ozog will see increased roles, while freshman F Charlie Trevisan is one of the top ninth-grade prospects around. Sophomore M Ryan Pierson and junior snipers Noah Walters and Justin Savona have already found the stat sheet in the early stages of the season.
3. ROCHESTER ADAMS (13-5-7): Adams put it together late last season and made a run to the Division 1 title game. Much of that team is back and despite being shorthanded early on, the Highlanders are off to a 4-1-1 start losing to Catholic Central in the Salem Balconi Tournament. Senior Lennart Zorn is a flashy player up top and an All-State Second Team selection last season. What helps is the recent return of versatile senior Connor McDevitt, who spent the last two years playing for the Vardar Academy after starting at Adams as a freshman. He can play any field position. Sophomore D Alex Kim was All-State Honorable Mention and also plays varsity football, while junior G Dylan Brown plays his best in big games and is one of the state’s top backstops. Junior D Peter Lencioni, junior M Matthew Lencioni, senior M Nick Hainer, junior Jon Kmiec and senior M/D Cameron Vogt give the Highlanders experienced players all over the pitch.
4. NORTHVILLE (14-6-3): The Mustangs won a Division 1 district last season and defeated Canton 1-0 victory earlier this season. This team is good enough to contend in the KLAA Central Division and make a run in the postseason. Senior F Johnny Rodriguez is a lethal scoring threat and senior D Garret Weaver, senior D Bobby Lubisco, senior F Jake Reitzloff, senior M Nick Toupin, junior M Mario Platchta and senior M Matt Mitchell are all back after starting games last season. Junior G Evan Treiber leads a strong contingent of newcomers that includes sophomores Owen Marshall (M), Collin Neal (D), Felipe McCarthy (F) and Andrew Mitchell (M), along with senior D Jordan Martindale.
5. CANTON (24-0-3): The defending Division 1 champions opened the season ranked No. 25 nationally (Top Drawer Soccer) after finishing in the top five in the nation last season. A 4-2-0 start has dropped them back down to reality but Canton is still one of the state’s premier programs. Undefeated last year, Canton has its top three goal scorers are back led by All-State Honorable Mention pick Hunter Olson (16 goals). Senior F Sam Deloy and senior M Matthew Causley are back after scoring 12 apiece. Junior Matt Rockafellow is a lockdown defender and junior M Josh Posuniak is back after missing part of last season with an injury. Senior M Jason Ren scored the goal in last year’s state championship game, and senior M Jimmy Walkinshaw is the ultimate set-up player. Senior F Sam Delgy is another scoring threat and senior defensemen Beau Hoffman and Jordan Percy add stability to the back line. Canton did graduate three All-State players.
6. SALINE (19-3-3): Saline’s girls team won its first state title last spring with a team that gave up only four goals. The boys team reached the Division 1 semifinals last season and are talented enough to do the same this season. Senior D Connor Williams is rock solid after earning All-State Honorable Mention honors last year, while senior M Collin Cavanaugh, senior M John Miller, senior F/M Austin Welch, senior F Nate Barnett, junior D Cole Larance, senior M Connor Mentzer and junior M Aaron Mentzer all have plenty of experience. Senior Ben Stankovich and junior Nolan Krause will share time in goal, while freshman F Ryan Nichols and freshman D Jack Fenelon are quality prospects. The Hornets started the year 4-1-1 with the only loss coming to Adams.
7. LIVONIA STEVENSON (13-2-4): One of the state’s most successful programs will field another highly-competitive and seasoned squad this fall led by 15 seniors. The Spartans spent plenty of time in the top 10 in Division 1 last season and are 4-1-0 this season. Senior Austin Kaczmarek is one of the state’s top keepers, senior M Tyler Gregory is four-year standout and senior sniper Ian Henzi are the leaders of this deep group. Coach Ken Shingledecker also welcomes back seniors Ryan Theisen, Valijon Qejvani and Trevor Furkas, who will all play forward or in the midfield. Senior M Brandon Navarro, senior D Max Hoover and sophomore D Justin Schultz will also be key players. Stevenson did lose some depth when four players left to join the Michigan Wolves Academy team this school year.
8. EAST LANSING (25-2-0): In his 38th season with the Trojans, coach Nick Archer has another talented side that will compete in the CAAC-Blue and for the Division 2 title. East Lansing is off to a 4-1-1 losing to top-ranked Mason. Senior M Zach Lane was All-State Honorable Mention last season and senior D/M Andreas Fuentes will shoulder a bigger role. Junior F Sam Libbie, senior D Will Uecker, senior D Adrian Birge and senior F Ian Carroll is a scoring threat. Senior G Chris Wallace is solid between the pipes, while senior M Gynu Khatiwade and junior M Quinton Hay will contribute.
9. FRASER (23-1-4): After winning districts back in 1989 and 1994, Fraser dipped into obscurity as far as soccer is concerned. Longtime Warren De La Salle coach Thaier Mukhtar is now in his fourth season with the Ramblers and has rejuvenated this program into a top 10 team in Division 1. Fraser has only five losses in Mukhtar’s first three years, including 54-2-7 the past two. In 2013 the Ramblers reached the regional finals for the first time since 1989. Last season they reached the semifinals before falling to Rochester Adams in a shootout. Senior M Nick Sharpe is slated for big things and senior D Dillon Donnelly anchors the back. Senior D/M Austin Rassey broke his neck in last year’s regional finals win and is now healthy. Junior F Andre Eaton, a transfer from Warren Cousino who has four goals and four assists this season, and senior M Jordan Hoggard are also key cogs in the attack.
10. TROY ATHENS (15-4-5): Only one time in the storied 35-year history have the Red Hawks finished below .500 and fans won’t expect anything less than a team that will push for the OAA Red Division and district titles this season and perhaps more. Senior M Torin Gebauer, an All-State Third Team selection, senior M Noah Araboo, junior G Mason Maziasz, junior D Shamik Patel, senior M Rudy Alvardo, senior F Blake Merbach and sophomore F Cole Valentine all started games last season, as well as senior F Massi Barczys, who is bouncing back from an injury. Senior defensemen Collin Kermath, Patrik Lekocaj and Andrew Orow should contribute this season. Junior M Yousuf Zetuna and sophomore D Yohan Zetuna are a pair of transfers from Sterling Heights that have aided the Red Hawks’ 5-0-1 start.
11. SALEM (7-9-4): Don’t let the Rocks’ record from last year fool anyone. Their strength of schedule is always one of the best. Salem is 1-4 all-time in state title matches, winning back in 1995 and losing in 2002, 1999, 1992 and 1989. A 3-1-1 start has been fueled by the play of senior F/M Nick Massey, one of the state’s better players. Senior D Hunter Givens is relentless on the back line, senior M Max Kummer is a solid playmaker, senior F Luke Nolta can wreak havoc on opposing defenses and senior M Jay Lee can find the net. The return of M/F Jordan Salhani, who spent last season with the Michigan Wolves Academy, senior G Karson Gregory, senior M Adam Hall, sophomore M Christian Freitag and sophomore D/M Mickey Schwartz all hope to make the Rocks contenders in the ever-tough KLAA and beyond.
12. UTICA EISENHOWER (13-5-2): In a rebuilding year, Eisenhower still won 13 games and finished third in the MAC Red Division last fall. With 14 returners the Eagles will vie for the top spot in Macomb County and behind a 4-1-1 start should return to the D-1 top 10 soon. Senior Justin Schueneman is a playmaker and goal-scorer package and one of the state’s better players. Senior F Ben Campbell, senior D Jake Campbell, senior G Marino Moraccini and senior M/F Kyle Tinnion are all quality players that will help Ike be a threat. Coach Josh VanHouten said his team has great balance and depth despite three in-school students having gone to the Vardar Academy.
13. GRAND RAPIDS FOREST HILLS CENTRAL (16-4-3): Despite losing sophomore Eric Connerty, who was All-State Third Team as a freshman in Division 1 last season and one of the state’s top players regardless of grade to the Michigan Wolves Academy, the Rangers are a quality side with big aspirations. Senior F Anthony Rowe has scorched the opposition with seven goals and four assists already this year, junior F Mohamed Havi, an All-State Honorable Mention player last season, senior M Jake Ireland, senior D/M Max Postlewait, senior M C.J. Strawser, senior D Matt Zadel, senior D Ryan Hungerford and sophomore G Jared Ireland are all players that will be mainstays in the lineup. Central took then-top-ranked Okemos to a shootout in last year’s regional semifinals.
14. PORTAGE CENTRAL (19-2-1): Behind a SMAC division and tournament title last season, Portage Central spent plenty of weeks in the Division 1 top 10. This season the Mustangs are off to a 7-0 start and beginning to look like a team that could be one of west Michigan’s top threats to reach the semifinals. Senior F Preston Boshoven is a goal-scoring machine and senior M Brady Robertson is the ultimate set-up guy. Senior M Trevor Chaput, senior G Brandon Twiehaus, senior F Jack Sosville, junior M Michael Kietteman, senior M Sam Scheffel, junior M Idris Daranijoh and defensemen Alex Eby, Robert Miller, Alex Oserhout and Jack Mount, all seniors, anchor a stingy back line.
15. PLYMOUTH (12-4-4): After finishing second in the KLAA South last season, the Wildcats are eager to return to the Division 1 top 10 where they logged a few weeks last season. Damon Favero is a dependable senior goalkeeper and junior Van Nguyen and senior Andrew Liakos are a pair of central defenders that makes Plymouth quite difficult to score upon. Freshman Anthony Iacopelli, junior Adam Saunders and sophomore Bennett Brooks anchor a young but talented midfield. Seniors Nick Freda, Mike Blake, Dylan Dweyer and Jayden Huxtable are all scoring threats up top.
16. OKEMOS (18-4-1): Ranked No. 1 in Division 1 for over a month last season, the Chieftains eventually reached the regional finals before bowing out in overtime to Saline. This year Okemos is picked to win the CAAC Red and potentially put together another lengthy postseason run. Senior M Cole Goatley is one of the top players in the Lansing area and set to lead the charge. Senior Larry Chen, senior M Josh Duren and junior M Owen Cannon will add to the attack. Seniors Nick Barr and Andre Garcia anchor the back. Sophomore G Patrick Restum, junior D/G Andre Owczarzak and junior M Ben Meschke will also be key players for the Chieftains, who lost three players that bolted for the Wolves Academy. Okemos is off to a 3-1-1 start.
17. EAST KENTWOOD (15-3-1): Three state titles in the past decade has cemented this program in the elite category in Division 1 and the Falcons could very well be tone of the best in Grand Rapids area this season with a talented cast. Gone is Guiseppe Barone, who is with the U-17 National Team in Bradington, Fla., but a host of other players will make East Kentwood a team to watch. Senior F Dzenis Begouic, senior M Franco Calabrese, who played with the Wolves Academy, last season, senior D Haric Guric and senior G Aleks Kupe are four very talented players ready to carry on the tradition.
18. BLOOMFIELD HILLS CRANBROOK KINGSWOOD (19-3-1): The Cranes have the oldest soccer program in the state and finally made it to the state finals for the first time in 2014, falling to East Lansing in overtime. Six starters are back for Cranbrook, including senior G Trevor Stormes, an All-State First Team honoree, and senior M Kennie Kernen, who earned All-State Third Team status last year. Senior M/F Cooper Cormier, who spent last season with the Michigan Wolves Academy, returns and pushes the Cranes right back into heap of top Division 2 teams.
19. DEXTER (20-4-2): The Dreadnaughts are another program that has really escalated during the past 15 years, winning a Division 2 state title in 2006 and losing in the finals in 2007 and 2008. Last year Dexter reached the state semifinals before falling in a shootout to Cranbrook. Overall, the Dreadnaughts have won districts in nine of the last 11 years and in eight in the last nine seasons. This season a 5-1-0 start has been headlined by a 19-1 scoring edge. Senior M Ben Vanderoost, senior G Ben Elliott and senior M Tucker Swann have led the way.
20. OXFORD (18-2-2): After competing as a power in Class B and Division 2 for three decades, the Wildcats bumped up to Division 1 in 2009 and finally captured their first district title in this division last season. Oxford lost in the regional semifinals to then-senior-heavy Clarkston (1-0) in 2014. This season the OAA-Blue champs have moved up to the OAA-White and have a seasoned group that has aided a 5-0-1 start. Senior F Nick Wright was an All-State Honorable Mention pick last season, senior G Connor Bandel is a shot put and discus state champion and All-America honoree in those track and field events, senior M Devan deJong and senior M Greg Knox are also solid players. Juniors Ethan Wright and Bradley Bailey and seniors Trevor Dean and Nathan Sharpe also started games last season in the back or midfield. Oxford will have a deep team with a rare 23 players on its varsity roster.
21. GRAND BLANC (12-5-3): The Bobcats moved to the KLAA four years ago which guarantees better regular season competition. Last year Grand Blanc won the KLAA West Division and reached the KLAA tournament final before falling to Canton. In the postseason, the Bobcats were clipped by fast-rising Oxford in a district final. There are nine returning starters this season, including senior D Jack Garnett, senior M/F Aidan Taylor, senior M Omer Saeed, senior M/F Dayton Rush, senior M/D Mitchel Metzger, senior D Alex Wiggins, senior M Garrett Miller, senior F Austin Hobbs and junior D Drew Kubani. Junior G Bennett Stokes should make impact.
22. UTICA FORD (14-3-2): Two years removed from a Division 1 semifinal game, the Falcons will again field a team that is capable of contending in the MAC-Red and making another run. Senior M/F Javier Steinwascher is one of the state’s better players, while senior D Anthony Wells and junior F Robert Wist are both key starters back. Sophomore M Alejandro Steinwascher and junior M Zac Waldorf are two key newcomers in the starting lineup.
23. NOVI (13-4-3): Novi only has three returning starters back but counters with a host of newcomers that will make them a tougher team later in the season. Senior F Toney Asimadu, senior M Connor O’LEary, senior defensemen Matt Netter and Roy Spencer, senior G Sam Sheeran, junior D Kyle Bandyk, senior F Eduardo DeOliveria and Shion Maidens all have varsity experience. Sophomore F Adam Dellavecchia, junior F Ben Hohas, junior D Eric Rice and junior M Hernan Brada lead the cast of newcomers.
24. MATTAWAN (16-2-2): After climbing as high as No. 2 in the state in Division 2 last season, Mattawan became upset victims by St. Joseph in the district finals in a game that reached a shootout. Senior M Nick Minor and senior M/F Nick King are both standouts, while senior D Matt Barlow, senior M Nathan Nespodzany and senior M Nolan Hadder are also back in the starting lineup.
25. BERKLEY (12-9-1): Once a doormat program when first launched back in the late 1980s, Berkley has come a long ways over the years and now competes in the ever-tough OAA Red Division, where it more than holds its own. Senior M Zach Hobson was All-State Third Team in D-1 and is a four-year starter in the center midfield position. Classmate Zachary Combs is also a quality midfielder and senior Julian Fetterman is a 6-foot-4 senior keeper who has garnered plenty of D-I college interest. Overall, there are seven returning starters back for the Bears.
26. ANN ARBOR SKYLINE (10-5-5): Two years ago Skyline captured its first state title in any sport. Last year the Eagles had high hopes, only to see its top two players, including 2013 Mr. Soccer Alex Lasinski, bolt for the Columbus Crew Academy. Skyline lost in the Division 1 district semifinals to Brighton, ending its repeat dreams early. This season there is ample talent to make the Eagles one of the best Ann Arbor area schools and a contender in the Southeastern Conference Red Division. Senior G Jake Hutnick and senior midfielders Lars Hallstrom and Max Mihavlov will lead the way.
27. PETOSKEY (13-8-2): A shootout loss to Bay City Western in a Division 2 district final left a sour taste in the mouths of the Northmen, who have loaded up on Division 1 schools during this season’s first month (a 3-2-1 start) to prepare them. There is plenty of talent on the roster, led by senior M/F Ben Hoffman, an All-State Second Team honoree last season, senior F Romario Salmon and senior G Nathaniel Reed, an All-State Honorable Mention choice last year. Senior M Emmett Sweeney, junior midfielders Connor Wineman and Spencer Wineman, senior D/M Billy Fettig, junior defensemen Patrick Goodrich, Zack Hoffman and Mitch Pulaski, and senior defensemen Dan Nicholson and Luke Fettig are all solid players hoping to lead Petoskey to its first D-2 title since 2008.
28. ROCHESTER STONEY CREEK (15-5-0): The defending OAA Red Division champions field their youngest team since 2002-03, the school’s very first season. There are several sophomores and freshmen that have cracked the lineup, which is part of the Cougars’ 2-4-1 debut. While junior M Pablo Kulyckyj, an All-State Third Team selection last year, is out with an injury until October, there is still talent on this roster. Senior Drew Tonti is a converted goalkeeper who keeps getting better. Senior D Chris Gasko, sophomore F Michael Melaragni, senior D Ray Yokoyama, sophomore M Bob Harris, senior M Vincent Vultaggio, freshman M Alex Vitale and junior defensemen Daniel Bojkovski and Mathew Turcotte are all keys players for a team that is built for the future.
29. ROCHESTER (5-11-2): Although a fine possession team last season, a youthful Rochester team struggled with inconsistency in goal in 2014 and dropped below the. 500 mark. A 3-1-1 start has seen the Falcons play well in all five games. Talent-wise, senior midfielders Noah Suleskey and Luke Deel, sophomore F Luciano Errcalde, junior M Demitri Pliakos, sophomore M/F George Zagrodski, senior D Matt Benedettini, senior M Fadi Bodagh, junior D Chris Labadie, freshman M Grant Ellison and junior Cameroon transplant Daniel Iyok gives this team ample weapons. Junior Brad Carlson and sophomore Luke Kastran hope to shore up the goalkeepers position for the Falcons, who have eight returning starters back. Rochester took state finalist Rochester Adams to the brink in the district semifinals last season before giving way (2-1).
30. TROY (10-6-4): The Colts have been down slightly the past three years after reaching the D-1 Final Four in 2011. Despite having only one senior that starts and a roster dominated by juniors and sophomores, Troy is off to a 3-1-1 debut and has allowed only two goals in five games. Junior D/M Drew Adams, senior F Dodgan Pintille, sophomore F/D Connor Bloomingdale, who played Vardar Academy last season, junior G Eric Reiland and junior F Joel Zaretti, another Vardar Academy defect, have all been stellar in the early going.
31. BRIGHTON (13-5-2): Another brutal league and non-league schedule will prepare the Bulldogs for the state tournament, where they reached the district finals last season before falling to Saline. This season Brighton is 1-2-1 to start the campaign but should be one of the favorites in the KLAA-West. Senior M Matt Lussier, senior D Garrett Bowles, senior D/M Matt Meredith and senior D/F Steven Hall have all been solid. Sophomore G Bailey Radwanski and sophomore F Ian Sosento have emerged as pleasant surprises.
32. BLOOMFIELD HILLS (13-5-2): In its first two seasons as a unified school, the Blackhawks made a surprise run to the D-1 state runner-up trophy in 2013 and to the regional finals last season. Although down in overall talent, Bloomfield Hills did win the Detroit Country Day preseason tournament in August. Senior M Garrett Winter is a fine playmaker, senior G Max Miley is a fine backstop between the pipes and junior D Max Miley anchors the back. The Blackhawks are trying to groom some new forwards to provide the scoring punch up top.
33. WALLED LAKE CENTRAL (11-7-3): Veteran Joel Sharpe welcomes back an experienced team that is favored in the KLAA North. The Vikings lost in a district final to Northville (1-0) last season. Senior F/M Brendan Slicker was an All-State Third Team pick last year playing at Orchard Lake St. Mary’s and senior D Tommy Gulick is slated for a big year as a lockdown defender. Senior M Evan Norton and senior D Connor Mason are also fourth-year players, while senior D Jake Rubin, senior G Mario Morelli and sophomore Karl Tavadia are also returning starters. Sop