Preview: Contenders Converge on Athens

June 5, 2015

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Three teams playing in Saturday’s MHSAA Boys Lacrosse Finals at Troy Athens are familiar with the setting – they played on the same field for the same prize only a year ago.

Birmingham Brother Rice has won all 10 Division 1 titles in MHSAA history, and Detroit Catholic Central was runner-up in 2014. Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood is seeking its second Division 2 title in three seasons after finishing runner-up last spring – and faces an opponent, Okemos, that will enjoy competing on the season’s final day for the first time.

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 MHSAA.TV, viewable with subscription, and broadcast on

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

Division 1

Record/rank: 18-4, No. 1 at end of regular-season
League finish: First in Detroit Catholic High School League A
Coach: Ajay Chawla, second season (37-8) 
Championship history: 10 MHSAA championships (most recent 2014). 
Best wins: 14-7 over No. 9 Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern in the Semifinal, 14-3 (Regional Final) and 17-3 over No. 6 Birmingham United, 7-4 and 15-8 over No. 7 Detroit U-D Jesuit, 11-4 and 14-10 over No. 2 Detroit Country Day, 14-6 over No. 3 Detroit Catholic Central.
Players to watch: Ross Reason, jr. G (6.90 goals-against average); Brendon Kennedy, sr. A (29 goals, 12 assists); Morgan Macko, jr. A/M (56 goals, 46 assists); John Lockwood, sr. A (54 goals, 47 assists); Riley North, jr. A (31 goals, 11 assists).
Outlook: The Warriors have continued to dominate Michigan boys lacrosse, going undefeated in-state with the only losses. They fell to one of Indiana’s top teams (Culver Military Academy) three times and a Canadian power (Toronto Hill Academy) while also beating one of Ohio’s best in Upper Arlington and Indiana’s top-ranked team, Carmel. All seven all-staters from last season are gone, but more of the best from 2014 have continued to carry the program – Lockwood and Macko were among the team’s top scorers last season and combined for nine of the team’s 23 goals in last spring’s championship game win over DCC.

Record/rank: 14-5, No. 3 at end of regular season
League finish: Second in Detroit Catholic High School League A
Coach: Dave Wilson, 10th season (131-62) 
Championship history: Division 1 runner-up 2014, 2010, 2007 and 2006.
Best wins: 14-13 over No. 2 Detroit Country Day in the Semifinal, 14-13 over No. 4 Brighton, 13-6 (Regional Final), and 7-4 over No. 7 Detroit U-D Jesuit, 20-9 over No. 9 Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern, 19-12 over No. 5 Troy, 11-8 over No. 10 Ann Arbor Skyline.
Players to watch: Zach Crawford, sr. A; Andrew Caris, jr. LSM; Alex Jarzembowski, jr. M; Rocco Mularoni, jr. A (Statistics not submitted.)
Outlook: DCC is back in the Final for the second straight season after edging Country Day, last season’s Division 2 champion, in the Semifinal. This team has a bit of a different look – there are only eight seniors, and only four start. In addition to wins listed above, the Shamrocks also were 3-1 against Division 2 teams that finished the regular season ranked among the top four, losing only to top-ranked Forest Hills Central (9-7 in DCC’s first game this season). They’re on a roll with eight straight wins – including six over ranked opponents – since falling to Brother Rice 14-6 in their only meeting this season.  

Division 2

Record/rank: 13-9, No. 4 at end of regular season
League finish: Fourth in Detroit Catholic High School League A
Coach: Mat Wilson, fourth season (55-31) 
Championship history: Division 2 champion 2013 and 2006, runner-up in 2014 and 2007. 
Best wins: 8-7 (OT) over No. 1 Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central in the Semifinal, 11-5 over No. 6 Pontiac Notre Dame Prep, 13-12 over Division 1 No. 2 Detroit Country Day.  
Players to watch: Johnny Wagner, sr. M; Bennett Faliski, sr. M; Peter Augier, sr. M; Michael Langdon, sr. D; Jack Blumberg, sr. D. (Statistics not submitted.).
Outlook: Cranbrook Kingswood is back in the Final for the third straight season and despite graduating a pair of standout offensive players after finishing runner-up last spring. Wagner is finishing a career that already has him entered in the MHSAA records listings three times, and he with the other four players mentioned above all earned all-state honors in 2014. The Cranes started 2-7 but faced both Division 1 finalists and top teams from Ohio; they are 11-2 since and have given up only 16 goals total over four tournament games.

Record/rank: 17-2, No. 2 at end of regular season
League finish: First in Capital Area Activities Conference
Coach: Shawn Grady, 13th season (156-77)
Championship history: Has not played in an MHSAA Final.  
Best wins: 14-10 (Semifinal) and 12-9 over No. 3 East Grand Rapids, 12-10 over Division 1 No. 4 Brighton.
Players to watch: Blake Grewal Turner, sr. A (60 goals, 21 assists); Cole Jamieson, sr. M (27 goals, 18 assists); Bennett Sherman, jr. A (56 goals, 31 assists); Cameron Stelljes, sr. G (5.20 goals-against average); Sam Horton, sr. D.
Outlook: The Chieftains have been building toward this first-time Finals appearance, improving their win total four straight seasons and with a group that went 15-2 in 2014 with five all-staters that are back this spring. Okemos’ only losses this season were to two of the best in Division 1 – by two goals to No. 9 Forest Hills Northern in the opener and then by only one goal to No. 3 Detroit Catholic Central in the regular-season finale. Those were two of only four opponents who scored more than seven goals on the Chieftains this season.

PHOTO: Okemos' Blake Grewal Turner works to get past a DeWitt defender during a victory this season. (Photo courtesy of Alan Holben Photography.)

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.