EAST GRAND RAPIDS – Repeating as Division 2 boys lacrosse champion has been no easy task.
Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central had missed doing so on four previous attempts.
But Saturday, the Rangers became just the second program in MHSAA history to repeat, defeating Detroit Country Day for the second consecutive year in the Final, 11-6.
“It’s really special (to repeat). We’ve had a couple opportunities to do that before and unfortunately haven’t been able to piece that together,” Forest Hills Central coach Andy Shira said. “This year, our seniors really took a step forward with how they lead and what it was going to take to get there. We had such a fantastic season last year, and we put them to the test this year. They met the challenge each and every day. We had some ups and downs, but the kids really stayed true to themselves and we came out on top.”
East Grand Rapids is the only other program to win consecutive D2 championships, when it won three straight from 2007-09. This year’s Finals was held at East Grand Rapids High School for the first time since 2013, giving the Rangers a hometown feel Saturday.
But Detroit Country Day (19-3) couldn’t have asked for much of a better start.
The Yellowjackets opened by scoring the first three goals when Mason Gal, Bonner Upshaw and Will Thompson each found the net over the first nine minutes of play.
Shira called a timeout to regroup the Rangers (18-4), and the game was never the same.
“We just needed the kids to settle down and execute better,” Shira said. “We had a little too much going on; we were a little frantic. So, once we settled down and the kids got to work, everything started to work in our favor.”
Forest Hills Central would lock in defensively, holding DCD to just one goal over the final 15 minutes of the first half.
While the defense was in control, the FHC offense rallied behind Magnus Salmon, who scored four times in the second period to lift the Rangers to a 6-4 halftime lead.
“Magnus Salmon was the difference in my mind,” Detroit Country Day coach Chris Garland said. “Bang, bang, bang. He gets three straight goals in the second and really carried the team on his back there. That was the big momentum shift in the game.”
In the second half, it was Jonah McConnell who had the hot stick. He found the net three times during the half and four times in the game to keep DCD from getting within reach.
Forest Hills Central goalie Crandall Quinn put on a dominant final three quarters of play, holding the Yellowjackets to three goals while making nine saves in net.
“It’s amazing. It’s great to be back-to-back state champs and win it in my senior year with all my buddies,” Quinn said. “We lost to (Country Day) earlier in the year, and it was great to see us bounce back.”
On the other side of the field, Country Day goalie Kellen Curby also had a strong showing, recording 13 saves for the Yellowjackets.
“Crandall Quinn is the best goalie in the state, but I think Kellen Curby is the next great goalie in Division 2,” Garland said. “He was outstanding in spots today and played an outstanding game.”
Caden Daley had two goals to lead Country Day on the night.
PHOTOS (Top) Forest Hills Central’s Crandall Quinn (4) advances the ball during his team’s Division 2 championship win Saturday. (Middle) FHC’s Magnus Salmon (3) works a shot between Country Day’s Hugh Aaron (17) and Shafeek Halabi (11). (Below) Oliver Aaron (10) rushes upfield with Collin Webb (7) defending. (Photos by Adam Sheehan/Hockey Weekly Action Photos.)
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