Top-ranked Grand Rapids Catholic Central stifles No. 4 Flint Powers, 1-0, for first state titleSoccer  |
(Photo Courtesy: Michigan High School Athletic Association)
ROCHESTER HILLS — There are so many life lessons learned when a team is in the midst of a magical run.
There’s the dealing with pressure of the increased magnitude of the next game and the target on your back of being one of the favorites in the postseason.
For Grand Rapids Catholic Central, which took over the top spot in the Division 3 coaches association Top 20 rankings on Oct. 9, the Cougars lived up to their top billing through the season’s final day.
Thanks to a first-half goal, Catholic Central captured its first MHSAA Division 3 State Final championship in its very first appearance in the title match, posting a 1-0 victory over fourth-ranked Flint Powers Catholic at Rochester Stoney Creek High School.
“It was a challenge with so many good teams out there. But there were some life lessons about being No. 1 and playing like it. A lot of life lessons just about getting here,” smiled Catholic Central coach Brian Hughes. “I told them before the game that I didn’t really care if we won today or lost. They already won based on the (journey) to get here and the fact that we had to beat some really good teams to play in the state finals. They did it together. No one individual accomplished this.”
Catholic Central had never won a regional or been to the Final Four before this season. In fact, the Cougars have only recently dented the rankings the past three years.
“We’ve come a long ways,” said Hughes. “This group of senior and juniors have really done a great job leading us to this moment. But it was a team effort. Everyone did their part.”
Now, Grand Rapids Catholic Central is firmly cemented on Michigan’s high school soccer map thanks to its narrow victory over the Chargers, who previously won the 2013 Division 3 crown.
Catholic Central (19-1-4) defeated four ranked teams in its final four games of the postseason and outscored its six postseason opponents by a 21-4 margin. Over their final four games, the Cougars defeated No. 2 Hudsonville Unity Christian (4-1), No. 8 Paw Paw (3-2), No. 12 Charlevoix (3-1) and No. 4 Powers Catholic (1-0).
Without generating any type of an attack during the first 14 minutes, Catholic Central struck gold on its very first shot attempt of the contest.
Junior forward Langston Coope