While the matchups for Saturday’s MHSAA Boys Lacrosse Finals are familiar, the buildup to these championship games seems to have produced wide-open opportunities for all four to finish their seasons with victories.
Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice is the reigning Division 1 runner-up, but split during the regular season with Saturday opponent Detroit Catholic Central – and with the Shamrocks winners of their most recent meeting in the Catholic League Bishop Tournament final.
Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central defeated Detroit Country Day 11-8 in last year’s Division 2 Final. But the Yellowjackets won this season’s rematch.
Below is a glance at all four teams playing at East Grand Rapids High School. Rankings are based on the Michigan Power Rating formula used for postseason seeding. The Division 1 Final is set for 2 p.m., with Division 2 following at 5 p.m. Tickets cost $11 and are good for both games, and may be purchased online only at GoFan.
BLOOMFIELD HILLS BROTHER RICE
Record/rank: 19-2, No. 1
League finish: First in Detroit Catholic League Central
Coach: Ajay Chawla, 10th season (143-25)
Championship history: 15 Division 1 titles (most recent 2021), two runner-up finishes.
Best wins: 26-1 over No. 4 Clarkston in Semifinal, 20-10 over No. 10 Brighton in Regional Final, 12-9 over No. 3 Detroit Catholic Central, 21-6 over No. 2 Hartland, 15-12 over Division 2 No. 1 Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central.
Players to watch: Christian McNulty, sr. A (75 goals, 17 assists, 31 ground balls); Sam Klein, sr. M (25 goals, 16 assists, 36 ground balls); Ben Eck, sr. M (33 goals, 25 assists, 38 ground balls); Robert MacMichael, sr. D (1 goal, 1 assist, 37 ground balls).
Outlook: After finishing runner-up last season, Brother Rice will play for its 16th Division 1 title with just one in-state loss this spring, 9-8 to DCC on May 13 after defeating the Shamrocks two weeks earlier. The only other defeat came to Cincinnati St. Xavier, also 9-8, and the Warriors have outscored their five playoff opponents by a combined 126-17. McNulty, Eck, Klein and MacMichael all made the all-state first team last season. Senior Hunter and sophomore Hansen Polonkey are second and third, respectively, with 51 and 40 goals this spring, and senior Braden Zarek has 36 and 32 assists.
DETROIT CATHOLIC CENTRAL
Record/rank: 19-2, No. 3
League finish: Second in Detroit Catholic League Central
Coach: Dave Wilson, 17th season (249-96)
Championship history: Division 1 champion 2018, eight runner-up finishes.
Best wins: 10-9 over No. 2 Hartland in Semifinal, 16-6 over No. 9 Grand Ledge in Regional Final, 9-8 over No. 1 Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice, 8-7 over Division 2 No. 1 Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central, 13-6 over Division 2 No. 3 East Grand Rapids.
Players to watch: Jack Cyrek, sr. A; Cal Taulbee, sr. D; Sean Donahue, sr. A; Logan Yatooma, sr. M. (No statistics submitted.)
Outlook: The Shamrocks are returning to the Final for the first time since 2019, and after a win in the most recent matchup with rival Brother Rice after losing to the Warriors 12-9 in their first meeting this spring. That game was the only time DCC gave up double-digit goals this season, and its only other defeat was 8-4 to Carmel (Ind.) on March 25. Cyrek and Taulbee made the all-state first team last season and are two of 11 seniors on the roster.
DETROIT COUNTRY DAY
Record/rank: 19-2, No. 2
League finish: Does not play in a league.
Coach: Chris Garland, fourth season (61-19)
Championship history: Three MHSAA titles (most recent 2014), two runner-up finishes.
Best wins: 12-7 (Semifinal) and 15-8 over No. 7 Grand Rapids Catholic Central, 20-5 (Regional Semifinal) and 19-6 over No. 6 Grosse Pointe South, 11-10 (OT) over No. 1 Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central, 7-5 over No. 3 East Grand Rapids, 13-9 over Division 1 No. 9 Grand Ledge.
Players to watch: Caden Daley, jr. A; Will Thompson, sr. A; Joseph Norton, soph. M; Simon Stoller, soph. M. (Statistics not submitted.)
Outlook: Country Day returned to the Final last season for the first time since 2014 and is back with its only losses this season to Division 1 No. 2 Hartland and No. 7 Rockford. Daley made the all-state second team last season and is considered among the state’s elite. Thompson and attack Ryan Ciacci are the only senior starters, but the expected lineup features several sophomores including goalie Kellen Curby.
GRAND RAPIDS FOREST HILLS CENTRAL
Record/rank: 17-4, No. 1
League finish: First in Ottawa-Kent Conference Rainbow Tier 1
Coach: Andy Shira, sixth season (95-11)
Championship history: Five MHSAA titles (most recent 2022), four runner-up finishes.
Best wins: 8-2 (Regional Semifinal) and 17-3 over No. 4 Ada Forest Hills Eastern, 11-9 over No. 3 East Grand Rapids, 14-6 over No. 7 Grand Rapids Catholic Central, 14-4 over Division 1 No. 7 Rockford, 10-8 over Division 1 No. 9 Grand Ledge.
Players to watch: Jonah McConnell, sr. A (57 goals, 34 assists); Nolan Hartl, jr. M (34 goals, 19 assists); Crandall Quinn, sr. G (7.5 goals-against average, 217 saves); Magnus Salmon, sr. M (53 goals, 33 assists). (Statistics through Regional Final.)
Outlook: The reigning champion will be playing in its sixth Final over the last seven seasons (not counting canceled 2020) and seeking its fourth championship during that span. After a March 28 loss to Country Day, 11-10 in overtime, Forest Hills Central’s defeats came to Division 1 top-ranked Brother Rice, No. 2 Hartland and No. 3 Detroit Catholic Central. Hartl and Quinn made the all-state first team last season, and McConnell made the second. Senior long stick midfielder Sam Sneider and junior face-off Luke Wedder also made the first team. Senior attacks Jake Koning and Graham Bennett both had added 33 goals through the Regional Final.
PHOTO Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice celebrates a goal during last season’s Division 1 Final.
Join Sean Baligian and Greg Durham as we take a look at all of the action from the 2023 Lacrosse State Finals Congratulations to our State Champions:
Division 1 Boys - Brother Rice
Division 2 Boys - Forest Hills Central
Division 1 Girls - Brighton
Division 2 Girls - Detroit Country Day