D2 Final Features Defense, But Forest Hills Central Breaks Away

By Perry A. Farrell
Special for MHSAA.com

June 11, 2022

HOWELL – Both sides knew what to expect in Saturday’s Division 2 Boys Lacrosse Final at Howell Parker Middle School after having faced each other early this regular season.  

Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central entered the rematch undefeated behind the sterling goaltending of Crandall Quinn, a junior already committed to the University of Michigan.

Quinn sparked the defense and Jonah McConnell’s four goals paced the offense as the Rangers prevailed 11-8 over Detroit Country Day, after also winning the first March 30 matchup 18-10.

Forest Hills Central secured its fifth Division 2 title, while the Yellowjackets were playing for a potential third.

“We came out a little bit slow,’’ said Rangers coach Andy Shira. “We had some lapses, not moving our feet. We gave them a little too much space to get their hands free and reach back to shoot. It was a good adjustment by our defense coordinator Andrew Clay. Simple things that got us here.

“Crandall is one of the best players in the state of Michigan. He’s deserving of the accolades he has gotten. He was an All-American last year as a sophomore (and) was phenomenal. I wouldn’t be surprised if he got it this year and next year. He stood on his toes.

Trailing throughout the first half, the Rangers did take a 7-6 halftime lead as two stingy defenses kept the game close.

Country Day’s Caden Daley tied the game at 7-7 with 6 minutes, 24 seconds to play in the third quarter. But Forest Hills Central regained the lead on Jake Koning’s first goal of the game.

Forest Hills Central/Country Day lacrosseNathan Sarjeant give the Rangers their largest lead of the game at 9-7 on a goal late in the third. Country Day’s Talon Garn made it a one-goal game with 8:46 to play, but Miles Duiven scored his second of the game moments later to make it 10-8 FHC.

McConnell scored his fourth goal of the game to give the eventual winners an 11-8 cushion with 5:08 to play.

“We knew they were going to focus on John (Tomsheck) a lot,” Shira said. “Jonah plays well off John. We knew that would free him up.” 

“Because they were playing tight on John, it left me wide open,” McConnell said, “so I was able to get open and the midfielders were working their butt off.’’

Country Day was held to two goals during the second half.

“I have a great defensive unit,’’ said Quinn. “They did everything they could to win this game. We came out a little soft at first, and we realized that’s not the game we play. During halftime we had a big speech about it, and we came out and showed who we are.’’

Sophomore midfielder Caiden Ramos got Country Day on the board 90 seconds into the action for a 1-0 lead. Parker Yearego made it 2-0 seconds later.

At the 7:52 mark, Yearego added his second goal of the game to make it 3-0 as Shira was forced to call a timeout. It was Yearego’s 96th goal of the season.

A minute later, sophomore Nolan Hartl got the Rangers on the board to make it 3-1.

A lengthy attack by Forest Hills Central produced a goal by McConnell to trim the deficit to 3-2 at the end of a physical first quarter.

Luke Grove notched his first goal of the game early in the second quarter to make it 4-2. Duiven made it a one-goal game again with his first goal with 7:35 to play in the half.

Forest Hills Central tied it up on Sam Sneider’s goal with 6:14 left. It wasn’t tied for long as Yearego scored his third of the game 10 seconds later to make it 5-4. But the Rangers’ Magnus Salmon twisted and turned until he got free to tie the game at 5-5 less than a minute after that.

Country Day’s Garn scored his first of the championship to give the Yellowjackets a 6-5 lead with 3:14 remaining in the second quarter. McConnell responded 11 seconds later with his second to tie it, 6-6. A minute later, McConnell gave the Rangers their first lead of the game with his third goal to end the first-half scoring.

“I want to give them the credit,’’ said Country Day coach Chris Garland. “It’s a well-coached team, and Andy does a great job with is kids. There’s no one to blame, but it just didn’t go our way today.’’

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS (Top) Forest Hills Central and Country Day players contend for the ball Saturday, including the Yellowjackets’ Ryan Lyngklip (11). (Middle) The Rangers’ Jonah McConnell (2) chases down the ball with Country Day’s Will Thompson (60) right behind him. (Click for more from Hockey Weekly Action Photos.)

Future Has Arrived as Port Huron United Continues Impressive Climb

By Paul Costanzo
Special for MHSAA.com

May 8, 2024

Brad McDougal knew when he returned to the Port Huron United lacrosse program in 2019 that in order to grow it to what he thought it could be, he’d have to build for the future.

Bay & ThumbHis plan was simple and time-tested: Start a youth program that would get players within the school system playing together more frequently and against better competition, preparing them to one day be varsity players.

It didn’t take long to see that it could work, and perhaps better and faster than he had hoped.

“We’ve known for a while (this was the year),” McDougal said. “Basically, when I started with that youth team, my ambition was if I can get four or five kids that have been coached, then build around them for the varsity program, that would be great. It turned out to be 15 of them.”

Behind 15 seniors, the majority of whom were part of McDougal’s original youth team, Port Huron United is competing at a level it never has before. United is ranked No. 9 in the Division 1 MPR following a 10-3 start, and won the Macomb Area Conference Red title for the first time in program history.

It’s a history that McDougal is plenty familiar with, having been a high school junior when the program began in 2006. McDougals have been part of the program ever since, whether it was him as a coach fresh out of high school and now, his brother Ben as a player, or his father Brian as a coach at various levels throughout all of it.

“Being around it as long as I have, that has sunk in,” he said. “The amount of teams that are reaching out to us now that never would have before – teams reaching out for film, ‘How were you able to defend this?’ Teams reaching out for scheduling that I think would have just ignored the email a couple years back. It’s definitely not lost on me.”

It’s also not lost on the players, who have heard McDougal talk about the program’s beginnings and have also seen first-hand a quick ascent.

As freshmen, this current group of seniors were a major part of a varsity team that played in the MAC Blue – the MAC’s divisions are based on performance, with Red being the highest – dominating it and earning promotion to the MAC White the following season. Another unbeaten league season put United into the MAC Red in 2023, and while there were some growing pains in going 2-3 against higher-level competition, there were signs of better things to come.

Matt Graham (12) maintains possession against the Cougars. “The second my class joined, we just dominated our leagues,” senior goalie Danny Moore said. “We went from Blue to White to Red in three years. Last year in the Red, we went 2-3, but it wasn’t without close games. I think (the rise) definitely stunned us a little bit. Not a week goes by that I don’t think about the giant leap we took. It’s like a world record long jump.”

Moore said the team started this season “like a cannonball out of the cannon with too much gun powder” as this group of seniors knew it was their last opportunity to play with one another.

United was dominant in its MAC Red season, going 5-0 and out-scoring opponents 61-12, not allowing more than three goals in any single game.

On the season, it has outscored opponents 136-50, led by senior goal-scoring threats Silas Klink, Jacob O’Hare, Nate DeLand, Matt Graham and Tim Monaghan. Moore is stopping more than 80 percent of the shots he’s faced, behind the defense of seniors Jack Bennett and Max Williams, and junior Parker Quinn, among others.

That’s despite a beefed-up nonconference schedule, which McDougal put together to better prepare his team for the upcoming postseason.

“We have a way harder schedule this year,” Klink said. “We haven’t ever made it to the Regional Final in all the program’s history, so that’s a big goal. I think scheduling all these teams, Coach McDougal knew what he was doing to get us battle-tested.”

Boys Lacrosse Regionals open May 16, and Lake Orion – which defeated Port Huron 11-4 in the season opener – is the host of United’s bracket.

Winning a Regional is the next goal for Port Huron, and McDougal repeatedly tells his team he wants a Michigan trophy. They’re ready to do all they can to make that happen, but also aren’t shying away from the possibility of blowing away his expectations once again.

“State champs,” said Bennett, who has committed to play lacrosse at Albion College along with Moore. “We want to go all the way. It would just be like – I don’t even know how to describe it. For the program, it would further push lacrosse at my high school and Port Huron. Twenty years ago, we didn’t even have a lacrosse team, so I think it would really push lacrosse in Port Huron.”

Paul CostanzoPaul Costanzo served as a sportswriter at The Port Huron Times Herald from 2006-15, including three years as lead sportswriter, and prior to that as sports editor at the Hillsdale Daily News from 2005-06. He can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Genesee, Lapeer, St. Clair, Sanilac, Huron, Tuscola, Saginaw, Bay, Arenac, Midland and Gladwin counties.

PHOTOS (Top) Port Huron United’s Silas Klink (1) makes a run at the goal against Macomb Dakota. (Middle) Matt Graham (12) maintains possession against the Cougars. (Photos by Margaret Quinn.)