DCC Striding Through Memorable Start

May 10, 2018

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

The win was only one and came now a month ago, and the first of two possible rematches is Saturday.

So everything about this Detroit Catholic Central boys lacrosse season hasn’t been and shouldn’t be about a 10-9 overtime victory April 10 over Birmingham Brother Rice, the Shamrocks’ first over their rival since 1994.

But edging the Warriors also has served as a springboard for top-ranked DCC, which will face Brother Rice again in Saturday’s Detroit Catholic League A-Division championship game and quite possibly in next month’s MHSAA Division 1 Final for the fifth straight season.

DCC is the MHSAA/Applebee’s “Team of the Month” for April, in part for overcoming the Warriors for the first time in decades, but also for a 12-2 record that includes a 9-0 mark against in-state competition.

The Shamrocks also own wins over No. 9 Rockford and Division 2 No. 2 East Grand Rapids, last season’s champion in that division, and claimed a two-goal thriller against Toronto St. Michael’s College. Those are among performances that have given 13-year coach Dave Wilson an idea what his team is capable of heading into the two biggest regular-season games of the season and the MHSAA Regional starting next week.

“They’re willing to do some of the really little things, and listen and make sure we’re all on the same page,” Wilson said of his team. “And they just have a willingness to go to the next step.”

So far, those next steps have looked like six wins scoring at least 20 goals – and perhaps more impressive, 11 games giving up nine or fewer and seven giving up four or less. The losses came by only seven goals to undefeated Indiana powerhouse Culver Military Academy and five to Ohio’s Dublin Coffman, which had just one defeat entering this week.

DCC has a mix of experience with seven seniors and larger groups of juniors and sophomores. Senior attack Peter Thompson and junior attack Joey Kamish are returning all-staters. And Wilson recently was named to this year’s Michigan High School Lacrosse Coaches Association Hall of Fame class.

Senior midfielder Ethan Pattinson is among those leading the way on this run – “When things really get tough, he just puts it into another gear,” Wilson said. The coach also mentioned senior mid Patrick Brandemihl, who is among those doing those little things, providing great defense and the occasional goal while filling roles that frequently are unsung.

After Brother Rice on Saturday comes Division 2 top-ranked and undefeated Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central a week from today – and then another opportunity to take another giant step. And that takes us back to Brother Rice one more time – the Shamrocks fell to the Warriors by only a goal in last season’s Division 1 Final and by only two in the 2016 championship game.

“It’s given us a nice confidence booster,” Wilson said of the win over the Warriors on April 10. “But no matter how emotional a win, that’s still only one win.”

And yet, he’s learned something else promising about this team from that game and its mostly impressive first six weeks: “Just the intensity of when we’re on, we are really on.”

Past Teams of the Month, 2017-18
March: Brighton hockey - Report
February: Marquette girls and boys skiing - Report
Sterling Heights Stevenson competitive cheer - Report
Cadillac boys bowling - Report
November: Ottawa Lake Whiteford football - Report
Beaverton volleyball - Report
Shepherd girls golf - Report

PHOTOS: (Top) DCC’s Connor Beals works to gain possession of a face-off against Brother Rice last month. (Middle) Shamrocks’ coach Dave Wilson is recognized as part of the 2018 MHSLCA Hall of Fame class. (Photos courtesy of the DCC boys lacrosse program.)

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.)