There can’t be many secrets left between opponents competing for MHSAA boys lacrosse championships Saturday.
The Division 1 Final is a rematch of last season’s title-deciding game, won by Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice 14-9 over Hartland. Those two faced off again this spring with Brother Rice winning 15-11.
In Division 2, Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central and Detroit Country Day have faced each other the last three regular seasons. The Rangers have won all three of those recent matchups, including 18-10 this March 30.
Below is a glance at all four teams playing at Howell Parker Middle School. Statistics are through Regional Finals unless noted. Rankings are based on the Michigan Power Rating formula used for postseason seeding. The Division 2 Final is set for 2 p.m., with Division 1 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/ranking: 15-6, No. 1
League finish: First in Detroit Catholic League Central
Coach: Ajay Chawla, ninth season (139-34)
Championship history: 15 Division 1 titles (most recent 2021), one runner-up finish.
Best wins: 13-6 over No. 10 Grandville in Semifinal, 15-11 over No. 4 Hartland, 14-11 and 10-5 over No. 3 Detroit Catholic Central, 15-12 over Dublin Jerome (Ohio).
Players to watch: Ben Eck, jr. M (28 goals, 11 assists); Christian McNulty, jr. A (54 goals, 11 assists); Luke Washe, sr. M (34 goals, 6 assists); Sam Klein, jr. M (32 goals, 19 assists). (Statistics through 17 games.)
Outlook: Brother Rice is seeking its third-straight Division 1 championship (not counting the COVID-canceled 2020 season), and lost only one game in-state this spring, its regular-season finale against East Grand Rapids. The Warriors were 4-5 playing top out-of-state competition, but won their other 11 games against Michigan teams. Total, nine players had either double-digit goals or assists through 17 games; in addition to those listed above, freshman attack Hansen Polonkey (12 goals, 20 assists) also starts. Junior goalie Cam Sims helps key a defense that has given up five or fewer goals in eight games. Senior long stick midfielder Nate Schultz made the all-state second team last season.
Record/ranking: 18-4, No. 4
League finish: First in Kensington Lakes Activities Association West
Coach: Nick Levanti, third season (39-5)
Championship history: Division 1 runner-up 2021.
Best wins: 8-7 over No. 3 Detroit Catholic Central in Semifinal, 18-8 over No. 9 Brighton, 18-7 over No. 6 Midland, 17-16 over Division 2 No. 2 Detroit Country Day.
Players to watch: Bo Lockwood, sr. A; Luke Bulloch, jr. D; Joey Mattord, jr. M; Sam Ralston, jr. D. (Statistics not submitted.)
Outlook: Hartland is making its second-straight Division 1 championship game appearance, with three of its losses by two goals apiece and its only in-state defeats among them to Brother Rice and Division 2 top-ranked Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central. Lockwood and Bulloch made the all-state first team last season; Lockwood’s career stats will have him listed all over the MHSAA and national record books after this season concludes. Mattord and Ralston made the all-state second team last season, and junior goalie Evan Phillips made the third team. The Eagles have five shutouts this season and didn’t give up a goal during their three Regional games. Total, they have held teams to five or fewer goals in 13 games.
DETROIT COUNTRY DAY
Record/ranking: 19-2, No. 2
League finish: Does not play in a conference.
Coach: Chris Garland, third season (42-16)
Championship history: Three Division 2 championships (most recent 2014), one runner-up finish.
Best wins: 12-10 (Semifinal) and 13-6 over No. 4 East Grand Rapids, 18-1 over No. 7 Okemos in Quarterfinal, 17-5 over No. 10 Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood in Regional Final, 18-7 over Division 1 No. 10 Grandville, 18-5 over Division 1 No. 9 Brighton, 21-5 over Division 1 No. 8 Saline.
Players to watch: Parker Yearego, sr. A (89 goals, 47 assists); Caiden Ramos, soph. M (45 goals, 45 assists); Caden Dailey, soph. A/M (62 goals, 22 assists); Cormac Scane, fr. A (57 goals, 28 assists).
Outlook: Garland brought two decades of coaching experience to Country Day when he took over the program in 2019, and he’s brought the Yellowjackets from 10-10 that first season to a combined 32-6 over the last two. Country Day twice defeated East Grand Rapids, the only in-state team to defeat Brother Rice this season, and the Yellowjackets’ only losses were to Forest Hills Central and Hartland – the latter by just a goal. Yearego and senior defenders Ryan Lyngklip and Luke Grove (33 goals, 44 assists) all made the all-state first team last season, Grove at midfield, while Ramos made the second team. Junior Talon Garn and sophomores Will Thompson and Oliver Aaron all have at least 20 goals as well, and senior goalie Max Kunnath is giving up only 5.9 per game.
GRAND RAPIDS FOREST HILLS CENTRAL
Record/ranking: 20-0, No. 1
League finish: First in Ottawa-Kent Conference Tier 1
Coach: Andy Shira, fifth season (77-7)
Championship history: Four Division 2 titles (most recent 2019), four runner-up finishes.
Best wins: 20-7 (Semifinal) and 15-7 over No. 5 Grand Rapids Catholic Central, 19-2 over No. 6 Portage Northern in Quarterfinal, 21-12 over No. 7 Okemos, 12-5 over No. 4 East Grand Rapids, 18-10 over No. 2 Detroit Country Day, 15-2 over No. 8 Orchard Lake St. Mary’s, 9-6 over Division 1 No. 3 Detroit Catholic Central, 16-3 over Division 1 No. 2 Clarkston, 10-8 over Division 1 No. 4 Hartland, 16-6 over Division 1 No. 9 Brighton, 10-9 over Division 1 No. 6 Midland.
Players to watch: John Tomscheck, sr. A (72 goals, 48 assists); Jonah McConnell, jr. A (75 goals, 20 assists); Miles Duiven, sr. A (30 goals, 1 assist); Crandall Quinn, jr. G (5.2 goals-against average, .690 save %).
Outlook: A scheduled game against Brother Rice was canceled, but Forest Hills Central has defeated the next three ranked teams in Division 1 in addition to six of seven teams ranked between Nos. 2-8 in Division 2. Tomscheck, Quinn and junior long stick midfielder Sam Sneider made the all-state first team last season. The defense has been incredible; only Country Day and Okemos scored double-digit goals on the Rangers. Five more Forest Hills Central players have scored double-digit goals, including sophomore Nolan Hartl (16, 18 assists), seniors Jack McNamara (14/12) and Nathan Sarjeant (11/9), and juniors Jake Koning (14/9) and Magnus Salmon (16/3).
PHOTO Brother Rice and Hartland face off 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