LANSING – Grand Rapids South Christian soccer coach Brian Broekhuizen wondered aloud if junior forward Emma DeVries would be cool with the nickname ‘Quiet Killer.’
DeVries is just too nice of a kid to be called Killer.
How about Quiet Assassin? State champion?
DeVries scored a pair of goals to help South Christian defeat Essexville Garber 3-0 in Friday afternoon’s Division 3 state championship game at Michigan State University’s DeMartin Stadium. It is South Christian’s second state championship and first since 2013.
DeVries’ first goal came via an assist from Grace Wieneke with 2:37 remaining in the first half to give the fifth-ranked Sailors a 2-0 halftime lead against the No. 7 Dukes. DeVries struck against nearly seven minutes into the second half on an assist from Joz VanTol and Cassidy Broekhuizen.
“Emma DeVries has been kind of a quiet killer for us this year,” said Broekhuizen, whose team finished 20-3-3 overall. “In terms of strengths, she is more of a finesse player. Passing and finishing around the box is really her strength. She has great soft feet and is a really crafty player in the box. She is our leading scorer, and she is very quiet. She comes through for us.”
The win also was the 100th career victory at South Christian for Broekhuizen. He was an assistant coach on the 2013 team before he was named head coach the following season. He has a 100-31-12 overall record for the Sailors.
DeVries said Friday felt like a dream.
“It has been my dream and my goal since my freshman year, and to achieve it feels awesome,” DeVries said. “I was looking at that timer, and finally when it went off, everybody ran on the field hugging and all the tears. It was awesome.”
It was Joz VanTol’s header from about four yards out off of Sydney Cleary’s free kick at the 23:25 mark that gave the Sailors the 1-0 lead. A one-goal lead has been insurmountable in recent weeks for the Sailors. The shutout was the ninth straight for the Sailors, including seven consecutive in the postseason. South Christian outscored their opponents in the tournament by a combined score of 23-0.
“Once we got the momentum, we were comfortable, we got a rhythm and started playing our game,” VanTol said. “We started connecting, and it felt so much better after that first goal.
“We practice our free kicks every day and where to connect it on our head. Every practice, we practice how to hit it on our body. It was just rhythm. I knew what to do with it, and I put it into the back of the goal.”
VanTol, a senior, will play at Cornerstone University next year.
“That first goal was a classic goal for us,” Broekhuizen said. “Sydney Cleary’s free kicks today were outstanding. To be able to play that in the box in a dangerous area, and for us to get something on it, man, that helped a lot.”
The season was still a historic one for the Dukes, who became the first team in Bay County to win a regional championship. Garber finished the year 22-1-2.
“We set records for every team in Bay County,” Garber coach Troy Stewart said. “Nobody has gone as far in Bay County. Nobody on the side of the state north of Detroit as far as I know. So probably between Flint and up to the Bridge and maybe further on this side of the state, this little tiny school, look at what they’ve done.”
Stewart also said Friday’s game was his last at the helm. He is stepping down after 16 years of coaching Garber.
“This was the last one for me,” Stewart said. “I have three granddaughters who play soccer, and I’m hoping to help out with them. We are starting all over again. I’m turning the coaching reigns over to Coach Brent (Betzold) and Coach Wendy (Davis).”