Seniors Lead Forest Hills Central Back to #1

June 8, 2019

By Jeff Bleiler
Special for Second Half

HOWELL – The Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central boys lacrosse seniors played in the Division 2 championship game all four years of their high school careers.

Safe to say, Saturday’s capper was tops.

Senior Tate Hallock scored five goals and assisted on four others, and fellow senior Luke Majick added five goals and three assists as the Rangers overwhelmed a young Ada Forest Hills Eastern squad 20-4 on Saturday at Parker Field in Howell.

The championship was the fourth in program history, joining one in 2016 when this year’s seniors were freshmen. The past two years, the Rangers fell short to East Grand Rapids – by two goals two years ago and by one in double overtime last year.

“It feels amazing,” Hallock said. “Obviously, sophomore and junior year we didn’t get it, and freshman year we got it but I wasn’t able to play. So just taking it all in, and it’s amazing that I finally played, got some goals and was able to contribute.”

The Rangers finished the year 22-1, their lone loss to Division 1 champion Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice. The Hawks went 16-7 in their first season under coach Zack Grusell, who served as an offensive coordinator for Central in 2015.

“It’s amazing,” Central coach Andy Shira said. “These guys, especially this group of seniors, I’ve been coaching since they were 11 years old. So to see them go out this way is truly special. It’s sad to see it end, but it’s ending in the best way possible for them.”

In six MHSAA Tournament games, Central held each opponent to five goals or fewer and never scored fewer than 17 goals.

“Our senior class has been here four years,” Hallock said. “Eastern is a great team, they’re young, they’ll be here the next couple years too against us probably. But yeah, we’ve been a powerhouse with our senior class.”

After a first quarter that saw both teams kind of feel each other out – despite being familiar with one another after a 17-4 Central victory over Eastern in April – the Rangers opened the scoring gates in the second quarter and never looked back. Sophomore Carson Deines and Hallock both scored in the opening quarter to give Central a 2-0 lead that grew to seven by the 4:28 mark of the second quarter. Majick scored goals 13 seconds apart in the second, and his third of the quarter put Central ahead 7-0.

Sam Bowen and Kaden Dietrich – two of eight sophomores in the Eastern starting lineup – put the Hawks on the board in the second quarter, which ended with Central going ahead 9-2 on a Hallock goal with 19 seconds to play.

Central outscored Eastern 11-2 in the second half, with a running clock for much of the fourth quarter. Senior Evan Matej finished with four goals and an assist, Deines had three goals and two assists, junior Jackson Clay had two goals and two assists and junior Hayden Sarjeant scored a goal for the Rangers.

The 16-goal margin of victory was the widest in a Division 2 Finals game, with the previous high being eight.

It didn’t help matters that Eastern was without sophomore John Morgan, who had a 120-point season end when he broke his foot in a Semifinal victory over East Grand Rapids. But Grusell wasn’t about to use that as an excuse.

“It’s been an awesome season,” he said. “We’re a young team, and it’s been phenomenal to see these guys get to where they are. We scheduled some of the toughest teams in the state of Michigan this year, and they kind of got punched in the mouth earlier this year and had to do a bit of growing up.

“I can’t give a big enough shout-out to seniors Patterson Alward, Brandon Pham, Isaac Wittlinger and all of our seniors, really. They built this program and got us here. We certainly plan on getting another shot at it, so we’ll try to get back here. It’s been one fun run.”

Bowen finished with two goals for Eastern, and sophomore Kevin Sprague scored the Hawks’ other goal.

Click for the full scoring summary.

PHOTOS: (Top) Forest Hills Central’s Jackson Clay (1) makes a move in front of Forest Hills Eastern’s goal during Saturday’s Division 2 Final. (Middle) Forest Hills Eastern’s David Charron (7) gets physical in the midfield.

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.