'Sudden Victory' takes 7 overtimes

April 13, 2012

Okemos boys lacrosse coach Shawn Grady has joked that he gave so many pep talks March 24, he pushed into his material for the Chieftains’ end-of-season Senior Night.

He needed every word in what stands today as the longest lacrosse game in MHSAA's short history of the sport.

Okemos played nearly seven overtimes before edging host Saline 9-8. Extra periods are four minutes long, meaning the teams played a little more than three halves – or 25 minutes and 25 seconds on top of the game’s regulation 48 minutes.

“I just said, let’s make sure we don’t do anything stupid on defense. We don’t want any penalties. That’s the big thing,” Grady remembered Friday of his six between-overtime talks. “I also told them, we don’t need anything outstanding. Don’t do anything that’s not you. It’s an old cliché, but play within yourself. You don’t have to be an all-star.”

Lacrosse has been an MHSAA sport only since 2005, and the record book is in its earliest stages of development. The seven-overtime game is the lone entry for such a contest.

The Chieftains (1-2) led the entire game until Saline took its first advantage, 8-7, a little more than four minutes into the fourth period. Okemos tied it up soon after. And the score stayed 8-8 until Peter Nichols dodged a defender and scored a little more than a minute into the seventh overtime.

“(My players) went nuts. They all stormed the field. In the rule book for lacrosse, it’s called ‘sudden victory,’ which I think is pretty cool,” Grady said. “That in itself shows how positive it is.

“While I felt great for us, at the end of it I was feeling for (Saline).”

Teams also get one timeout during an overtime, and both coaches made sure to use his. Grady said if one was called while his team was on the defensive, he’d try to put the six freshest defenders into the game – and vice versa if a timeout was called when Okemos was on the attack.

The Chieftains had four shots hit goal posts during the overtimes – and Saline goalkeeper Austin Burd made a number of tough stops to keep the game going.

“We don’t even go to overtime is Austin Burd doesn’t stand on his head,” Saline coach Matt Ceo told the Saline Reporter. “Austin responded the whole day. He was our MVP today; there’s no doubt about it.”

Saline is 2-3 overall, but 2-1 since the marathon effort. 

This wasn’t the first time extra time has come into play between these teams. Okemos also outlasted Saline, in just one overtime, in 2010.

The seven-overtime win was the 100th career victory for Grady, who has led the Chieftains program for 10 seasons.

Click to check out the MHSAA boys lacrosse record book

PHOTO courtesy of Saline boys lacrosse program.Saline (in white) and Okemos players battle for the ball during the March 24 game.

Future Has Arrived as Port Huron United Continues Impressive Climb

By Paul Costanzo
Special for MHSAA.com

May 8, 2024

Brad McDougal knew when he returned to the Port Huron United lacrosse program in 2019 that in order to grow it to what he thought it could be, he’d have to build for the future.

Bay & ThumbHis plan was simple and time-tested: Start a youth program that would get players within the school system playing together more frequently and against better competition, preparing them to one day be varsity players.

It didn’t take long to see that it could work, and perhaps better and faster than he had hoped.

“We’ve known for a while (this was the year),” McDougal said. “Basically, when I started with that youth team, my ambition was if I can get four or five kids that have been coached, then build around them for the varsity program, that would be great. It turned out to be 15 of them.”

Behind 15 seniors, the majority of whom were part of McDougal’s original youth team, Port Huron United is competing at a level it never has before. United is ranked No. 9 in the Division 1 MPR following a 10-3 start, and won the Macomb Area Conference Red title for the first time in program history.

It’s a history that McDougal is plenty familiar with, having been a high school junior when the program began in 2006. McDougals have been part of the program ever since, whether it was him as a coach fresh out of high school and now, his brother Ben as a player, or his father Brian as a coach at various levels throughout all of it.

“Being around it as long as I have, that has sunk in,” he said. “The amount of teams that are reaching out to us now that never would have before – teams reaching out for film, ‘How were you able to defend this?’ Teams reaching out for scheduling that I think would have just ignored the email a couple years back. It’s definitely not lost on me.”

It’s also not lost on the players, who have heard McDougal talk about the program’s beginnings and have also seen first-hand a quick ascent.

As freshmen, this current group of seniors were a major part of a varsity team that played in the MAC Blue – the MAC’s divisions are based on performance, with Red being the highest – dominating it and earning promotion to the MAC White the following season. Another unbeaten league season put United into the MAC Red in 2023, and while there were some growing pains in going 2-3 against higher-level competition, there were signs of better things to come.

Matt Graham (12) maintains possession against the Cougars. “The second my class joined, we just dominated our leagues,” senior goalie Danny Moore said. “We went from Blue to White to Red in three years. Last year in the Red, we went 2-3, but it wasn’t without close games. I think (the rise) definitely stunned us a little bit. Not a week goes by that I don’t think about the giant leap we took. It’s like a world record long jump.”

Moore said the team started this season “like a cannonball out of the cannon with too much gun powder” as this group of seniors knew it was their last opportunity to play with one another.

United was dominant in its MAC Red season, going 5-0 and out-scoring opponents 61-12, not allowing more than three goals in any single game.

On the season, it has outscored opponents 136-50, led by senior goal-scoring threats Silas Klink, Jacob O’Hare, Nate DeLand, Matt Graham and Tim Monaghan. Moore is stopping more than 80 percent of the shots he’s faced, behind the defense of seniors Jack Bennett and Max Williams, and junior Parker Quinn, among others.

That’s despite a beefed-up nonconference schedule, which McDougal put together to better prepare his team for the upcoming postseason.

“We have a way harder schedule this year,” Klink said. “We haven’t ever made it to the Regional Final in all the program’s history, so that’s a big goal. I think scheduling all these teams, Coach McDougal knew what he was doing to get us battle-tested.”

Boys Lacrosse Regionals open May 16, and Lake Orion – which defeated Port Huron 11-4 in the season opener – is the host of United’s bracket.

Winning a Regional is the next goal for Port Huron, and McDougal repeatedly tells his team he wants a Michigan trophy. They’re ready to do all they can to make that happen, but also aren’t shying away from the possibility of blowing away his expectations once again.

“State champs,” said Bennett, who has committed to play lacrosse at Albion College along with Moore. “We want to go all the way. It would just be like – I don’t even know how to describe it. For the program, it would further push lacrosse at my high school and Port Huron. Twenty years ago, we didn’t even have a lacrosse team, so I think it would really push lacrosse in Port Huron.”

Paul CostanzoPaul Costanzo served as a sportswriter at The Port Huron Times Herald from 2006-15, including three years as lead sportswriter, and prior to that as sports editor at the Hillsdale Daily News from 2005-06. He can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Genesee, Lapeer, St. Clair, Sanilac, Huron, Tuscola, Saginaw, Bay, Arenac, Midland and Gladwin counties.

PHOTOS (Top) Port Huron United’s Silas Klink (1) makes a run at the goal against Macomb Dakota. (Middle) Matt Graham (12) maintains possession against the Cougars. (Photos by Margaret Quinn.)