Legacy Lives On; Rice Extends D1 Reign

June 6, 2015

By Bill Khan
Special for Second Half

TROY — Morgan Macko is being modest when he says there are no superstars on this year's Birmingham Brother Rice lacrosse team.

Anyone who scores 11 goals in two career MHSAA championship games isn't just another good player.

Macko scored five goals and added an assist, as Brother Rice extended one of the most dominant dynasties in MHSAA history with a 16-7 victory over arch rival Detroit Catholic Central in the Division 1 championship game Saturday at Troy Athens.

The Warriors have won all 11 MHSAA Division 1 championships, going 54-0 in postseason play during that time. They are 159-1 against teams from Michigan since 2005, the lone loss being an 8-7 overtime decision at Detroit Country Day on April 16, 2014. Brother Rice, which tests itself regularly against strong opposition from Indiana, Ohio and Ontario, has a 223-27 overall record in those 11 seasons.

"There's a tremendous amount of pressure," Brother Rice coach Ajay Chawla said. "I'd be sitting up here not telling you the truth if I told you they didn't feel it. They feel it. Every year, they don't want to be the guys that let the legacy down. We didn't shy away from talking about it. We didn't treat this like another game. We understood this was a state championship."

And nobody understands how to raise the level of his game with a championship on the line better than Macko.

Last year, Macko tied a Finals record shared by two other Brother Rice stars by scoring six goals in a 23-7 victory over Catholic Central. Like last year, Macko scored all of his goals in the first three quarters, not as stat-stuffers in the final minutes.

Macko's 11 goals in back-to-back finals broke the record of 10 set by Brother Rice's Jason Alessi in 2013 and 2014.

"It's really fun playing on these big stages in front of a pretty big crowd," said Macko, a junior who was brought up to experience the postseason as a freshman. "You feed off each other's energy, and it's a lot of fun out here."

Three of Macko's goals came during a back-and-forth second quarter in which Brother Rice held off a Catholic Central charge. His fifth goal, which opened the second-half scoring and increased Rice's lead to 11-4, was called the biggest goal of the game by his coach.

"He's a big-game player," Chawla said. "He finishes well. He produced for himself, but he also was the recipient of a lot of great dodges by a lot of guys. It's our unselfish plays that allow him to get goals when his guy slides off him and we find him. Overall, it was a great performance by Macko, but you have to credit that whole offense. The score speaks for itself."

Macko finished with a team-high 63 goals this season. He was one of four Warriors to record hat tricks in the game, with Bo Pickens, Riley North and John Lockwood all scoring three goals. It was the second Finals hat trick for Lockwood.

"There are just weapons everywhere," Macko said. "There are no superstars. The defense can't focus on one guy. You have to worry about everyone. There are threats all over the place."

So, even though Macko had six goals against them in last year's Final, the Shamrocks knew they couldn't sell out just to stop him.

"They have so much depth," said Catholic Central junior Rocco Mularoni, who scored five of his team's seven goals. "They play really well as a team. You can't pick out one individual guy to shut down."

Catholic Central (17-5) started strongly enough, opening the scoring on a goal by Mularoni with 9:15 left in the first quarter. Shortly after tying the score 1-1 on a goal by Pickens with 7:20 left in the first, Brother Rice called timeout. The Warriors came out of the timeout on fire, scoring two goals 34 seconds apart to grab a 3-1 lead. Brendan Kennedy and Lockwood scored to extend the lead to 5-1 after one quarter.

The Warriors (19-4) scored three goals in the first 3:39 of the second quarter to build an 8-1 lead.

Just when it appeared a rout was in progress, Catholic Central restored some drama to the game by scoring three times in a 43-second span to make it an 8-4 game with 7:23 left in the second.

The Warriors regrouped with goals by Pickens and Macko in the final 1:30 of the quarter to take a 10-4 lead into halftime.

"I don't think we were very worried," Chawla said. "Our guys had to settle down a bit. We know they play on streaks and emotion. Once our guys settled down, we got those two at the end of the half, which were huge goals for us. That took a bit of the momentum back."

Brother Rice had the only two goals of the third quarter, with Macko scoring with 9:48 left and North with 25.8 seconds to go.

North's third goal increased Brother Rice's advantage to 15-4 with 9:01 left in the fourth quarter, getting the lead within one goal of invoking a running clock. Mularoni ensured that wouldn't happen, scoring two goals 57 seconds apart to make it 15-6 with 6:57 left.

Goals by Pickens of Brother Rice and Zach Crawford of Catholic Central completed the scoring.

Catholic Central has lost to Brother Rice in the Finals five times and in the Semifinals once.

"We seemed to turn it over a lot against Rice," Shamrocks coach Dave Wilson said. "We know when we have the ball we're going to score; at least that's how we do against 99 percent of the other teams in the state of Michigan."

The Warriors' streak of dominance doesn't appear likely to end any time soon. They are set to return seven of their nine starters from the championship game, including Macko.

And there are always players who have yet to wear the Brother Rice uniform waiting in the wings, eager to carry on the tradition.

"If you come in and can play, you can play,” Lockwood said. “We have a lot of younger kids who are going to come up and keep getting better."

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS: (Top) Brother Rice’s Morgan Macko (13) drives on the net with a Detroit Catholic Central defender working to intercept. (Middle) Detroit Catholic Central’s Chris Clark looks upfield during Saturday’s Final.

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

By Drew Ellis
Special for MHSAA.com

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.