Preview: Leagues of Champions, Part II

June 9, 2017

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Familiarity is the name of the games to be played Saturday at Howell’s Parker Middle School.

For the second straight season, both MHSAA Boys Lacrosse Finals will feature rematches of league rivals.

Detroit Catholic League rivals Birmingham Brother Rice and Detroit Catholic Central will face off at 2 p.m. in the Division 1 championship game for the third straight season. Ottawa-Kent Conference foes East Grand Rapids and Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central will play at 4:30 p.m. for the Division 2 title for the second straight year and after facing off twice already this spring.

Both Finals will be broadcast on, available with subscription, with audio available on Click for more information, including all tournament results.

Below is a look at all four contenders, with player statistics through Regional Finals.

Division 1

Record/rank: 19-4, No. 1 at end of regular-season
League finish: First in Detroit Catholic High School League A
Coach: Ajay Chawla, fourth season (74-14) 
Championship history: 12 MHSAA championships (most recent 2016). 
Best wins: 8-6 over No. 4 Rockford in a Semifinal, 15-14 and 15-10 over No. 2 Detroit Catholic Central, 17-1 and 25-6 over Division 2 No. 6 Orchard Lake St. Mary’s, 17-1 over Division 2 No. 3 Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood, 14-7 over Division 2 No. 5 Warren DeLaSalle, 15-5 over Division 2 No. 4 Detroit Country Day, 14-9 over Division 2 No. 2 Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central, 10-9 over Victor, N.Y.
Players to watch: Erik Schmidt, sr. A (27 goals, 12 assists); Daniel Reaume, sr. M (38 goals, 22 assists); Jack Kelly, sr. M (70 goals, 25 assists); Nick Dudley, sr. A (44 goals, 11 assists).
Outlook: Brother Rice continues to be the only Division 1 champion in the history of boys lacrosse as an MHSAA-sponsored sport. But it’s had to survive a few close calls this spring and will need to be at its best in this next rematch with DCC. All four losses were to out-of-state teams, but the win over Victor was especially significant – it broke Victor’s 50-game winning streak, which reportedly was the longest active streak nationally. Schmidt, Reaume, Kelly and senior defenseman Carson Cochran all were all-staters last season.

Record/rank: 14-5, No. 2 at end of regular season
League finish: Second in Detroit Catholic High School League A
Coach: Dave Wilson, 12th season (164-76) 
Championship history: Division 1 runner-up six times (most recent 2016).
Best wins: 12-11 (OT) over No. 3 Hartland in a Semifinal, 14-5 over No. 6 Troy Athens in a Regional Final, 13-10 over No. 5 Northville in a Regional Semifinal, 14-8 over Division 2 No. 6 Orchard Lake St. Mary’s, 16-5 over Division 2 No. 4 Detroit Country Day, 15-9 over Division 2 No. 5 Warren DeLaSalle, 15-10 and 14-11 over Division 2 No. 3 Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood.
Players to watch: Peter Thompson, jr. A; Brennan Kamish, sr. M; Hunter Braun, sr. G. (Statistics not submitted.)
Outlook: DCC will play in its fourth straight Final, again trying to break Brother Rice’s grip on Division 1, but got within one and five goals in their two earlier meetings this season. Braun made the all-state second team last season – Thompson and Kamish made the first team – and DCC has held opponents to single-digit goals in 11 games this spring. Its in-state losses were twice to the Warriors and once to Division 2 top-ranked East Grand Rapids, by two goals early this season.

Division 2

17-1, No. 1 at end of regular season
League finish: First in O-K Conference Tier 1
Coach: Rick DeBlasio, fifth season (69-26)
Championship history: Three MHSAA titles (most recent 2009), four runner-up finishes. 
Best wins: 17-7 (Semifinal) and 21-4 over No. 3 Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood, 16-6 over No. 7 Vicksburg in a Regional Semifinal, 15-13 and 16-9 over No. 2 Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central, 13-8 and 16-4 over No. 9 Ada Forest Hills Eastern, 14-8 over No. 5 Detroit Country Day, 17-15 over Division 1 No. 2 Detroit Catholic Central, 16-7 over Division 1 No. 7 Brighton.
Players to watch: Hub Hejna, sr. A (82 goals, 56 assists); Ben Keller, sr. A (48 goals, 22 assists); Luke Elder, sr. A (54 goals, 11 assists); Nick Milanowski, jr G (8.65 goals-against average).
Outlook: The Pioneers are hoping to avenge last season’s 10-6 championship game loss to Forest Hills Central after sweeping their rival during the regular season. A one-goal loss to Division 1 No. 4 Rockford is all that’s kept East Grand Rapids from a perfect run this spring. Hejna, Keller and Milanowski all made the all-state first team last season, and senior mid Joe Bolea (17 goals, 12 assists) made the second team.

Record/rank: 15-6, No. 2 at end of regular season
League finish: Second in Ottawa-Kent Conference Tier 1
Coach: Patrick Clay, first season (15-6)
Championship history: Three MHSAA titles (most recent 2016), two runner-up finishes.
Best wins: 11-10 OT (Semifinal) and 16-6 over No. 5 Detroit Country Day, 18-7 over No. 9 Ada Forest Hills Eastern, 21-8 over No. 3 Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood, 17-10 and 13-10 over Division 1 No. 4 Rockford, 19-12 over Division 1 No. 5 Northville.
Players to watch: Bryce Clay, jr. A (93 goals, 61 assists); Tanner Hallock, sr. A (41 goals, 44 assists); Drew Bailey, sr. A (45 goals, 25 assists); Nick Carter, sr. D.
Outlook: Patrick Clay took over the program this season and inherited eight returning first-team all-staters: Bryce Clay, Bailey, Clark, senior Tate Bond, junior Patrick English, sophomore Logan Wedder, senior Jake Prinz and senior Jack Uecker. Hallock also was a top scorer on last season’s team – and with all of that talent and experience, the Rangers can’t be overlooked in this Final despite two and seven-goal losses to East Grand Rapids during the regular season.

PHOTO: East Grand Rapids’ Hub Hejna works to elude a Forest Hills Central defender during last season’s Division 2 Final.

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.