Local Sports Journal

Four area boys high school soccer players were named first-team all-staters for their efforts during the recently completed season.

Fruitport’s Zach Gilson, Whitehall’s Matt Rohen, Western Michigan Christian’s Alex Rop and Muskegon Catholic’s Adam Callow all were named to the first team in their respective classes. The teams were announced by the Michigan High School Soccer Coaches Association. Gilson is a Divisin 2 choice, Rohen in Division 3 and Rop and Callow in Division 4.

Gilson, a high-scoring senior forward, led the Trojans with a school record 37 goals this season. His 63 goals and six assists for his career are the fourth-best in Fruitport school history.

“Zach Gilson was a master at the hardest thing to do in soccer… score goals,” Fruitport coach Greg Kobylak said. “He had a determination in the attack that was the key to his success.  He has speed and skill, but his mental determination to score was the difference.

“The Trojans season was successful for many reasons, but Zach’s abilities were one big reason,” Kobylak said.

Gilson’s best game was a four-goal performance against Spring Lake.

“Zach also showed maturity this season playing hard, physical and aggressive without recording any cards which had not been the case in the past,” said Kobylak, who also lauded Gilson for his physical preparation during the offseason.

During the season, Gilson scored at least one goal in 13 games and scored in 19 of 22 games.

Rohen, a senior defender, was the only returning starter from last year’s team.

“Matt offered a great deal of leadership to the team,” Whitehall coach Bryan Mahan said. “His comfort in the center and control of the air kept many teams from mounting a counter attack.  He was a great complement to the skill around him, making great passes and never over possessing the ball.”

Rohen was the catalyst in starting the Vikings offense.

“He was our chief distribution point on both transitions and set plays,” Mahan said. “At the onset of the season, he led by example as a team player, and grew into a vocal leader that coordinated our team.

“The early season was a very individual effort,” he said. “Matt was our most important force in creating a team effect that lead this team to the final four.  As an offensive threat Matt controlled the air on corners and set plays, and set up many counter attacks by winning a ball in the air and sending it down to our speedy forwards.”

Rop, a senior, anchored the Warriors’ defense after starting the season at center midfield. He was moved to sweeper after injuries took a toll on the Warriors’ defense.

“Alex is such a great representative of WMC soccer,” WMC coach David Hulings said. “He was awarded our highest award, the Warrior Award, because the players saw in him the qualities we believe in. Alex excels in the leadership of his team on and off the field.  He genuinely cares for the players he plays with.”

As a freshman, Rop was a member of the Warriors’ state championship team and the following year when the Warriors were Division 4 state runners-up.

“His playing skills are unmatched on our team this year,” Hulings said. “He plays hard and competitive and will play wherever we want him to play. He constantly encourages his players and leads by example in practice and on game day. His graduation leaves a big hole for us to fill.”

Hulings said that experience gained in the state title games was an asset for Rop later in his career.

“He brought that type of competitive experience to the team,” the WMC coach said. “He will go many places in his life.  We are privileged to have him as part of our team and, for four years, part of our program.”

Callow brought everything you’d ask from a senior leader.

“Adam was always a player who continued to improve every year,” MCC coach Bill Moulatsiotis said. “He showed great leadership even at an early age as an underclassman.”

His athletism also was an asset.

“He is a true athlete as well as being very good at basketballand baseball,” Moulatsiotis. In fact, last spring Callow and soccer teammate Todd Hall combined to win a city doubles tennis title.

“He’s a great kid with a very high GPA,” Moulatsiotis said. “Adam has great vision and he doesn’t really have a weak foot. He’s a good dribbler and his passing in fantastic. He plays with a lot of emotion and he gives it his all every game.”

Besides the four first-team selections, the area also had 20 other players named to the second, third or honorable mention squads.

In Division 1, Mona Shores’ Nate Hoover, a junior who has committed to Western Michigan University, was a second-team choice. Grand Haven’s Gerrit Shaap made the honorable mention list.

In Division 2, state finalist Spring Lake had two players named to the second team. They were senior forward Nic Ellingboe and junior Kyle Zietlow, who was named to the team as a field player.

Fruitport had two others played honored besides Gilson. Conner Deneen and Ben Kramer were named honorable mention. Deneen is a junior goalkeeper and Kramer is a senior defender.

Reeths-Puffer senior midfielder Cody Loss also was an honorable mention selection.

In Division 3, Whitehall had Hayden Collins, a junior goalkeeper  and senior forward Andrew Jennings named to the second team. Also chosen for second-team honors was Zac Schoon, a sophomore forward from Ludington.

Named to the honorable mention list were Grant’s Alex Barajas, a sophomore, Ludington senior defender Zeb Jones, Mason County Central senior forward Bailey Merrick, Shelby junior midfielder Angel Cadena and a pair of Orchard View players – seniors Brandon Edwards (midfield) and Carlos Nunez (forward).

Besides Rop and Callow as first-team honorees, Division 4 players honored included eight others.

Montague’s Luke VanBoxel, a senior forward, was named to the third team along with a pair of Muskegon Catholic players – senior goalkeeper Todd Hall and senior defender David Walker. Matt Kowalski, from North Muskegon, was also a third-team choice. He is a senior defender.

Four other area players were named honorable mention: Hart’s Boni Hernandez, a senior forward, Muskegon Catholic senior forward Frank Gasior, North Muskegon freshman forward Justice Sikkema and Western Michigan Christian senior forward Chaise Schuiteman.