Finals Preview: Champs Again Favorites

June 7, 2013

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Michigan has known only one MHSAA Division 1 boys lacrosse champion, Birmingham Brother Rice. And Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central is the Division 2 power of late, with two titles in three seasons and the possibility of adding another this weekend.

Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern/Eastern will attempt to break the Warriors' eight-season championship in the Division 1 Final at East Grand Rapids. And Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood should provide a formidable foe to Forest Hills Central as it looks to avenge a regular-season finale loss to the Rangers.

The Division 1 Final begins at 2 p.m., followed by the Division 2 Final at 4:30. Click for more information including all results from this season's tournament. Both finals also will be streamed live on and broadcast on, and shown next week on Comcast. 

Here's a brief look at the four teams vying for titles (player statistics do not include Semifinals): 

Division 1

Record/rank: 17-5, No. 1 at end of regular season
League finish: First in Detroit Catholic High School League Division I
Coach: Rob Ambrose, 20th season (373-45)
Championship history: Eight MHSAA championships (most recent 2012).
Best wins: 19-0 over No. 4 Detroit U-D Jesuit, 14-13 and 16-10 over No. 3 Detroit Catholic Central, 22-9 over No. 2 Clarkston in Semifinal, 13-5 over Division 2 No. 1 Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central.
Players to watch: J.P. Forester, sr. A (66 goals, 19 assists); Graham Macko, sr. A (45 goals, 17 assists); Sergio Perkovic, sr. A/M (49 goals, 26 assists), Jason Alessi, jr. A/M (30 goals, 47 assists).  
Outlook: Brother Rice has won all eight titles since the MHSAA began sponsoring boys lacrosse and had only one scare, against rival DCC, in-state this season. The Warriors finished 3-5 against out-of-state competition facing top teams from Ohio, Indiana and Ontario.

Record/rank: 15-7, No. 6 at end of regular season
League finish: Third in O-K Conference Tier 1
Coach: Mark Lardieri, first season (15-7)
Championship history: Division 1 runner-up in 2011.
Best wins: 10-8 over No. 7 Grand Haven, 14-8 over No. 8 Holland West Ottawa, 13-11 over No. 4 Detroit U-D Jesuit in Regional Final, 11-10 (OT) over No. 5 South Lyon in Semifinal.
Players to watch: Bobby Pelton, soph. M; Connor Sullivan, sr. A/M; Bennett Dipzinski, sr. D. (Statistics not submitted.)
Outlook: Northern/Eastern closed with two losses (including one to Division 2 finalist Cranbrook-Kingswood), but has advanced with three straight wins of two or fewer goals. Northern/Eastern also avenged two of its regular-season losses – coming back to beat both West Ottawa and Division 2 No. 4 East Grand Rapids in their second meetings.

Division 2

Record/rank: 16-6, No. 2 at end of regular season
League finish: Second in Detroit Catholic High School League Division II
Coach: Mat Wilson, second season (31-13)
Championship history: Division 2 champion 2006, runner-up 2007.
Best wins: 16-8 over No. 9 Warren DeLaSalle, 10-8 and 8-6 (Semifinal) over No. 4 East Grand Rapids, 13-10 over No. 3 Pontiac Notre Dame Prep (Regional Final), 17-5 over Division 1 No. 9 Brighton, 13-8 over Division 1 No. 6 Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern/Eastern.
Players to watch: Matthew Giampetroni, sr. M (67 goals, 38 assists); Taylor Ghesquiere, jr. A (54 goals, 15 assists); Johnny Wagner, soph. A (50 goals, 23 assists), Michael Langdon, soph. D.
Outlook: Half of Cranbrook-Kingswood’s losses came against top-four Division 1 teams, and another was against Norte Dame Prep – a loss the Cranes then avenged in the Regional. They’ll try to do the same now against Forest Hills Central, which beat Cranbrook-Kingswood 15-5 in the regular-season finale.   

Record/rank: 17-3, No.1 at end of regular season
League finish: First in O-K Conference Tier 1
Coach: Tony Quinn, seventh season (115-31)
Championship history: Division 2 champions 2012, 2010; runner-up 2008.
Best wins: 17-2 over No. 9 Warren DeLaSalle, 15-5 over No. 2 Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood, 22-2 over No. 10 Portage Central in Regional Semifinal, 17-4 over No. 8 Haslett/Williamston in Regional Final, 11-8 over No. 5 Detroit Country Day in Semifinal.
Players to watch: Neil Cunningham, sr. A (39 goals, 19 assists); Andrew Kransberger, jr. A (63 goals, 52 assists); Luke Gerard, sr. A (42 goals, 24 assists); Chris Bosscher, sr.  D (44 ground balls).
Outlook: In addition to beating half the top 10 in Division 2, Forest Hills Central also owns five wins over teams ranked in Division 1 at the end of the regular season – including two over Division 1 finalist Forest Hills Northern/Eastern. Those few losses came against No. 4 East Grand Rapids, Division 1 No. 1 Brother Rice and Indiana power Culver Academy. The Rangers have won 12 straight. 

PHOTO: Forest Hills Central's Neil Cunningham (left) looks to pass to a teammate during last season's Division 2 Final. He'll be among key players as his team plays for a repeat championship Saturday. 

Quick 2nd-Half Strike Sparks Detroit Catholic Central to Comeback Win

By Drew Ellis
Special for

June 8, 2024

ANN ARBOR – The Detroit Catholic Central offense knew what it was capable of – but just needed to show it.

After being shut out in the first period of Saturday’s MHSAA Division 1 boys lacrosse championship game at University of Michigan, and trailing 6-3 at the break, the Shamrocks needed a spark.

That spark came in the form of a Lachlan Moffatt goal just 13 seconds into the second half, which started an 11-2 run for DCC on the way to a 14-8 victory.

“Hartland was playing really well. We just weren’t capitalizing, which is really kind of strange for us. I think when we got that first goal of the third quarter, that really changed the complexion of the whole thing,” Detroit Catholic Central coach Dave Wilson said.

Even after the Moffatt goal, the Shamrocks (21-3) still didn’t take the lead until late in the third quarter. Senior midfielder Matthew Aleva would fire off a laser that found the back of the net with 4:14 to play in the period, tying the game at 7-7.

Minutes later, Aleva would take a pass from Moffatt and find the net again to give the Shamrocks their first lead – one they wouldn’t relinquish.

A Hartland player brings the ball upfield while DCC's Brody Wojcik defends.“They were big and I knew we needed to swing the energy on to our side,” Aleva said of his two goals. “We had to rally back and come out in the second half with a Game-7 mentality. We found that energy and we made sure to play the way we know we could.”

The Shamrocks won all 14 faceoffs in the second half, which allowed them to control possession most of the final two periods and take a 32-8 shot advantage over Hartland (19-4).

“Faceoffs had a lot to do with it. At the end of the day, (Catholic Central) had a couple of strong draw guys who are really talented players,” Hartland coach Nick Levanti said. “You have to come out with other ways to win, whether it is winning possessions, winning ground balls, tying it up, clearing better. Ultimately, I felt (Catholic Central) came out hungrier to do those little things.”

It was Hartland that looked hungrier during the first half. The Eagles took a 3-0 lead after a quarter of play, thanks in large part to the play of freshman goalie Nate Anderer. He made six saves in the first period and finished with 19 for the game.

“He’s always locked in, and he’s a great player,” Levanti said of Anderer. “That’s a performance you can expect him to give. He has that type of capability in any game.”

With Catholic Central not finding the net at its accustomed frequency, it relied less on its passing to score and worked individual battles. Seven of the 11 second-half goals were unassisted. 

“Every game takes on its own personality. We weren’t moving off-ball well, so guys had to really take it on their own and stick the ball in the net, and they did,” Wilson said.

The Shamrocks' Matthew Aleva (30) makes a move as Hartland's Mark Alarcon defends. Luke Zajdel led Catholic Central in scoring with five goals, four of which came in the second half. Moffatt finished with three goals and two assists, while Francisco Williams and Aleva each had two goals.

Hartland was led by Dylan Ayotte, who had two goals. Easton Culver had one goal and two assists for the Eagles.

Saturday marked the first time the Division 1 Final didn’t feature Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice. The Warriors had appeared in every D1 Final since the sport received MHSAA sponsorship in 2005.

The only two Finals Brother Rice had lost came against Catholic Central (2018) and Hartland (2022), respectively.

Catholic Central became the first program aside from Rice to win multiple MHSAA Division 1 titles.

“It’s sheer dedication to try and get to this game every year,” Wilson said. “It requires a ton of commitment and skill and unselfishness and learning how to be coachable. These guys did it. We felt that early on, that these guys had the potential to do that.”

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS (Top) Detroit Catholic Central celebrates its Division 1 championship Saturday. (Middle) A Hartland player brings the ball upfield while DCC's Brody Wojcik defends. (Below) The Shamrocks' Matthew Aleva (30) makes a move as Hartland's Braden Streight defends.