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. 

Country Day Scores in Record-Setting Fashion to Claim 1st Title Since 2014

By Drew Ellis
Special for MHSAA.com

June 8, 2024

ANN ARBOR – Heading into Saturday’s MHSAA Division 2 Final, Detroit Country Day coach Chris Garland attributed a lack of offense to why his Yellowjackets came up short in the 2022 and 2023 championship games.

That issue was corrected this time around.

Detroit Country Day put up the second-most goals in D2 Finals history, defeating Ada Forest Hills Eastern 18-7 to claim its first championship since 2014 and fourth overall.

“We have so many skilled players. We are a complete team with tremendous depth,” Garland said of the offense. “We just want to keep putting the ball in the hands of our offense. If you stop one of them, we have another guy that can come at you. We showed that (Saturday).”

One player that Forest Hills Eastern didn’t have an answer for was Country Day sophomore Keaton Yearego. He matched a MHSAA Finals record with six goals, three coming during a 5-0 rally in the second period that put the Yellowjackets ahead for good at 8-4.

Country Day and Forest Hills Eastern players scramble for the ball. “I have a lot of confidence in my team, and my coaches have a lot of confidence in me and allow me to play my game,” Yearego said. “I have some great senior attackmen around me that help me do my thing. Today was just my day.”

The Hawks (16-5) tried to set the tone early, posting the first two goals of the game when junior Jackson Arnold and senior Will Morgan each found the net during the opening minutes.

“I loved the energy. The boys came out to play right from the get-go,” Forest Hills Eastern coach Antonio Boggiano said. “We knew right away that we weren’t happy just getting to this moment. We actually wanted to compete for the championship.”

The Yellowjackets (19-2) didn’t let the early deficit affect them and answered with three straight goals, two coming from senior Oliver Aaron.

“We’ve faced that kind of challenge before. It’s nothing new for us. We’re a resilient team,” Aaron said. “When you have a strong bond with your teammates and can rely on them, you can bounce back from those slow starts.”

The Hawks answered with the last goal of the first period from junior Bradyn Campbell. Senior Preston Hoexum then found the net to open the second to put Forest Hills Eastern up 4-3.

That’s when Country Day got rolling offensively. The Jackets scored 14 of the next 16 goals over 26 minutes of play.

Most of the scores came unassisted, as the Yellowjackets won individual battles to get open looks at the net.

DCD’s Joe Norton (21) works to get into the open.“We have a lot of offensive threats on our team, so if one way isn’t working, we know we have other options,” Yearego said. “We really just executed well and showcased how many different ways we can score. It was an unbelievable performance.”

The offensive dominance showed in a 49-22 shot advantage for Country Day. The score could have been even more in favor of DCD, but Hawks goalie Camden Klaes made 15 saves in net.

Morgan and Campbell both finished with two goals to lead Forest Hills Eastern, which made its first Finals appearance since 2021.

“I’m just proud of the boys, just for overall the season we have had,” Boggiano said. “We met in October and said right then and there that we were going for this ring. We came up a little bit short, but I’m just extremely proud of (the team). They overcame a lot of adversity.”

Aaron finished with four goals for Country Day to go with Yearego’s six. Preston Cook, Caden Daley and Rhys Kenney all found the net twice. 

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS (Top) Country Day goalie Kellen Curby makes a save during Saturday’s Division 2 Final. (Middle) Country Day and Forest Hills Eastern players scramble for the ball. (Below) DCD’s Joe Norton (21) works to get into the open.