Boys soccer tournament preview: Many district match-ups feature ranked teams

Soccer   | Dan Stickradt

Boys soccer tournament preview: Many district match-ups feature ranked teams



The more things change, the more things stay the same.

This best describes the boys soccer scene in Michigan over the years. While many of the traditional state powerhouses still thrive today, as they did some three decades ago, the talent growth and shifts has allowed the talent pool to spread to all corners of the Lower Peninsula. 

In the Lansing area, Division 2 top-ranked East Lansing has become one constant example of a program never falling off the map as more and more schools have added soccer or have garnered respect.

Since winning the Class A state title in 1987, East Lansing has captured five titles with two state runner-up trophies. Beginning with the 1982 season, soccer became a Michigan High State Athletic Association-sanctioned sport. Before that the coaches association ran a small state tournament from 1974-81 for the scant amount of programs around at the time. 

The Trojans (16-1-2) have captured a number of conference and district championships and are perhaps the most successful program in the Lansing area.

Can East Lansing make it title No. 6? The Trojans will have to get by No. 18 Haslett and DeWitt to win a district. Possible match-ups with No. 2 Spring Lake or No. 6 Lowell could await in the balance during the regional round.

Making a run is not simple for any of the top programs.

In all four divisions, some districts offer up several ranked squads (one district in Division 3 has five ranked teams) while other districts have schools under the radar waiting for the right moment to spring an upset.

Here is a look around some of districts in the state and what to expect in the opening week of the postseason, which begins Monday.


Top District: No. 5 at Detroit Catholic Central features four top-20 ranked teams and five high-quality teams. No. 7 Northville, No. 8 Brighton, No. 11 Catholic Central and No. 14 Novi, the latter two face each other in a pre-district contest, are all in the same group. Don’t count out Livonia Stevenson, one of the state’s winningest programs.  


Other Top Districts: No. 15 at Rochester Adams features four teams that have spent time in the top 20. Adams, which has reached the Final Four the past two years, faces formally-ranked Clarkston in the opening round. No. 12 Rochester Stoney Creek and Rochester, which was ranked earlier in the campaign, could also emerge.


District No. 2 at East Kentwood also features four ranked squads, including defending champion Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central (No. 19), Rockford (No. 6), East Kentwood (No. 17) and Grand Ledge (No. 20), a school ranked for the first time.


Top-Ranked: Portage Northern has been ranked No. 1 in the state for most of the season and carries a 17-1-1 record into the postseason. The Huskies will have to get past No. 18 Portage Central and always-tough Okemos to win their district. 

Canton, the state champion in 2011 and 2014 and runner up in 2015, enters the postseason ranked No. 2. The Chiefs are capable of making a long run if they can get past previously ranked Plymouth in the opener and Salem (No. 13) in the district semifinals.

In northern Michigan, No. 15 Traverse City West will have to get past unranked Midland Dow (16-0-4). 

Ann Arbor Skyline, the 2013 state champion, takes a 17-0 record into the tournament and must get past No. 11 Saline to reach the regionals. 

Fourth-ranked Troy Athens and No. 9 Utica Ford are also grouped together. 


Behind No. 1 East Lansing