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Six West Michigan Conference girls soccer players earn 2022 all-state accolades

North Muskegon leads the way with three selections, including first-teamer Natalie Pannucci.

North Muskegon junior Natalie Pannucci, right, chases the ball upfield during a Division 4 girls soccer state semifinal against Kalamazoo Christian Tuesday, June 14, 2022, at Comstock Park High School’s Panther Stadium in Comstock Park, Mich. (Courtesy of Rhonda Kinahan Photography)

North Muskegon’s girls soccer team carried the flag for the West Michigan Conference deep into the postseason again in the 2022 season.

It stands to reason that the Norse would have the most representation on the Michigan High School Soccer Coaches Association all-state teams among squads from the conference.

Led by Division 4 first-teamer Natalie Pannucci, North Muskegon placed three players on the all-state squads. Teammates Sam Johnson and Grace Vander Woude earned second-team all-state accolades.

Whitehall scoring star Maggie Evans nabbed Division 2 third-team all-state honors, while Montague’s Emma Peterson received Division 3 all-state honorable mention recognition and Ravenna’s Sidney Marsman earned Division 4 all-state honorable mention.

“Natalie Pannucci is one of the best athletes around,” North Muskegon coach Caleb Parnin said about the junior forward, who scored a team-high 19 goals and added 10 assists. On Tuesday, Pannucci also was announced as the 2022 VanDyk Mortage West Michigan Conference Player of the Year. She also was a starter and key contributor for the Norse’s 2021 state championship team.

“She’s so coachable, whenever I am talking to her, she makes perfect eye contact and says, ‘Yes, coach,'” Parnin said about Pannucci. “I’m so proud of her and what she has brought to our team. No matter who we played, they needed to figure out how to stop that.”

North Muskegon again was unbeaten in the West Michigan Conference, captured district and regional titles, and finished with a 16-4-1 overall record after falling to Kalamazoo Christian in the state semifinals, 1-0.

North Muskegon was ranked No. 4 in Division 4. In addition to Pannucci, Johnson and Vander Woude played big roles in that.

North Muskegon junior Sam Johnson (12) corrals the ball during a Division 4 girls district soccer final against Western Michigan Christian Friday, June 3, 2022, in Norton Shores, Mich. (Scott DeCamp | CatchMark)

Johnson, a junior forward, tallied 16 goals and nine assists for the Norse in her firsts season with the program after transferring from Muskegon Catholic Central.

“Sam Johnson is one of the most technically skilled players I’ve coached. She understands the game at a very deep level and offers a competitor’s edge to our team,” Parnin said. “Sam is very dangerous with the ball … but she’s just as strong off the ball.”

North Muskegon was very sound defensively this season, and Vander Woude helped to anchor the Norse on that end of the field.

North Muskegon allowed only 17 goals this season. Parnin said that Vander Woude was the highest-ranked defender in Division 4. She also pitched in a bit offensively with three goals.

North Muskegon senior Grace Vander Woude (3) is announced during pregame introductions prior to a Division 4 girls soccer state semifinal against Kalamazoo Christian Tuesday, June 14, 2022, in Comstock Park, Mich. (Courtesy of Rhonda Kinahan Photography)

“I’m not sure if this is a new award or not, but we are starting to nominate a defensive and offensive POY award for each division,” Parnin said. “I’m not sure if we say, ‘defensive player of the year’ or ‘top-rated defender in D-4.’ I’m waiting to see what the award is actually called. But I do know she won it.

“Grace is a leader. She does it by example and, as the season went on, she led in other ways. … Grace always makes the right decision, whether to kick the ball out of bounce, drop the ball to a teammate or to turn the ball on an opponent.”

Evans scored 36 goals this season and finished her prolific career with a Whitehall school-record 114. She broke her sister’s school record last season. What makes the goal-scoring record even more impressive is the fact she did it in three seasons, as the 2020 season was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Peterson, a junior midfielder, paced Montague this season with a co-team-high eight goals and squad-best eight assists.

Marsman, a senior goalkeeper, made 207 saves this season for a save percentage of .850. She also scored a goal and had an assist.

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Lead writer for CatchMark SportsNet and Web Services leader for CatchMark Technologies.

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