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GRAND BLANC — Life in the Kensington Lakes Activities Association girls soccer circles can be rough sometimes.


There are so many quality teams and players that winning division, conference and district titles can seem more daunting than winning some type of lottery.


Grand Blanc is usually a top-20 team in Division 1 each season dating back to the 1980s and since moving to the KLAA seven years ago, the Bobcats have found out that winning isn’t as easy as the old Big Nine Conference, where Grand Blanc dominated for decades.


“We had a good team last year, but we were only third in our division (KLAA-West),” noted veteran coach Greg Kehler. “We put it all together in the end and made a run to the state finals. But you wouldn’t have guessed it by looking at the conference standings.”


Grand Blanc finished 18-6-3 before losing to unbeaten Saline, 4-0, in the D-1 state finals.


“There are so many good teams in the KLAA, in all four divisions,” admitted Kehler. “There are also some programs that have become a whole lot more competitive in the past few years and the schools down towards the bottom of the standings are better than they used to be.”


Entering the final week of the regular season, Grand Blanc posted a fine 14-1-6 overall record, including winning the KLAA-West with 24 points (7-3-0). Brighton finished second with 23 points (7-1-2).


As for the state rankings, the 24-school KLAA boasted six schools ranked in the D-1 top-15.


Walled Lake Northern (No. 4), Grand Blanc (No. 5), Brighton (No. 6), Novi (No. 9), Plymouth Canton (No. 14) and Livonia Stevenson (No. 15) all gained some state notoriety.


Novi (9-1-6, 6-1-3, 21 points) emerged as the KLAA-South champion, two points ahead of Stevenson (12-4-3, 6-3-1) and Northville (8-6-5, 5-1-4), which won the D-1 state title in 2014.


Canton finished unbeaten in the KLAA-South (11-1-4, 8-0-2), three points ahead of Plymouth (9-5-5, 7-1-2).


Walled Lake Northern has proven to become of a power team over the past 5-6 years and repeated in the KLAA North Division this season. The Knights (11-3-2, 7-2-1) totaled 22 points and edged Walled Lake Central (7-4-1, 7-3-0, 21 points) and Waterford Mott (12-5-1, 6-3-1, 19 points).


Novi downed Canton, 3-1, for the Kensington Conference crown, while Grand Blanc clipped Walled Lake Northern, 2-1, for the Lakes Conference crown.


Novi and Grand Blanc faced off in the KLAA finals May 25 (after press deadlines).


So which lucky side from the KLAA will make a deep run this postseason? Besides Grand Blanc reaching the finals last year, Canton, Hartland and Northville all reached the regional finals a year ago.


Most of the power teams from the KLAA are lumped together in three districts, meaning it will be extremely difficult to make a deep run.


“That’s just it,” laughed Kehler. “You have one unlucky bounce and your season is done. Sometimes you have to win three one-goal games just to win a district, and often times you have to go to overtime or a shootout to decide the winner.”


The toughest first-round matchup in the entire state will take place on May 31, where Brighton and Walled Lake Northern tangle in a battle of top-five teams.


Hartland upset Walled Lake Northern in the pre-district last season and ended the Knights season earlier than expected. Both Brighton and Walled Lake Northern have rosters dotted with college prospects.




After losing to eventual D-2 state runner-up Fenton in last season’s district finals, Linden has charged back with vengeance this season. The Eagles began the campaign 11-0-0 and enter the postseason ranked fourth.


Linden, 17-1-1 overall as of May 23, has picked up 13 shutouts on the season.


Linden and 15th-ranked Fenton should face off in the district semifinals this season, barring any upsets.



Flint Powers Catholic entered the season as one of the teams to beat in Division 3 and is currently ranked second in the state in late May. The only squad ranked higher is defending champion Hudsonville Unity Christian, which has won nine of the last 11 state titles in D-3.


Powers Catholic, which is 14-1-4 this season after posting a 24-4-0 ledger last season, actually defeated Unity Christian, 1-0, in the 2011 state finals. Unity Christian got the best of Powers in the state title game in 2009 (1-0) and 2007 (3-2).


Powers Catholic also reached the state finals in 2000 and 2003, losing to East Grand Rapids and Madison Heights Bishop Foley, respectively.