Wagner Scores Dream Finish for Cranes

June 6, 2015

By Bill Khan
Special for Second Half

TROY — Johnny Wagner had a once-in-a-lifetime moment three days earlier, but may have topped it on Saturday.

The Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood senior netted the winning goal in overtime of the MHSAA Division 2 Semifinal against Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central on Wednesday, putting the Cranes in their third straight championship game. 

With another overtime looming, Wagner lived out yet another dream scenario by scoring the championship-winning goal with 10.5 seconds left in regulation, giving the Cranes a 10-9 victory over Okemos at Troy Athens.

Wagner's fifth goal of the game broke a 9-9 tie that Okemos achieved with a late three-goal outburst, capped by Charlie Ciuk's tally with 1:20 remaining. The Cranes led 8-4 with 7:45 left in the game. 

"It was a similar play the last game in overtime," said Wagner, who had a hat trick when the Cranes won the 2013 championship. "It's something we've been working on. It's been an exciting week. It's a big one."

Cranbrook Kingswood got possession following Ciuk's goal and called timeout with 53.5 seconds remaining. Wagner held the ball coming out of the timeout before breaking toward the net and burying a shot into the upper-right corner. 

It was the biggest goal of his career — or at least in the last three days. And he will have to watch the video to see it for the first time.

"I did not see it go in," Wagner said. "I thought the goalie saved it and everyone started jumping all over me. I got hit. I was shooting off my back foot. I'm not complaining." 

There was never a doubt which player would take the final shot for the Cranes.

"That is exactly what we expect out of him," Cranes coach Mat Wilson said. "That play at the end was just to get the ball to your best player and let him do his thing." 

While Wagner's goal was the final shot taken by the Cranes, it wasn't the final shot of the game.

Okemos won the ensuing faceoff and called timeout with 7.3 seconds on the clock. Cole Jamieson, who had two goals, ran with the ball from midfield and fired wide to the left of goalie Ryan Rosenthal from 10 yards out. 

"It went wide," said Rosenthal, a 5-foot-5 senior who started in the last three Division 2 Finals. "Me and Trey (Greissing) ran to the end line to get that possession. At that point, we knew we had it."

Although Okemos was able to come back from four goals down to tie it, Rosenthal made two big saves from close range in the third quarter when the Chieftains were rallying from a 5-2 halftime deficit. 

"I think he was the player of the game," Wilson said. "I'm not sure what his stats are, but he is an incredible leader. He kept us in the game. Without him, this might have turned out differently."

It appeared that the Cranes had safely secured their third MHSAA championship when the second of Wagner's four fourth-quarter goals gave them an 8-4 lead with 7:45 remaining in the game. But that goal was part of a wild scoring spree by both teams that produced six goals in 2 minutes and 19 seconds. Blake Grewal Turner's second goal with 5:26 remaining got Okemos within 9-8. 

The scoring subsided for a few minutes until Ciuk took a pass from Monty Frankfort and went to the net for the tying goal with 1:20 to go.

"We were up a little bit, but knew this team could score," Wagner said. "They're a big offensive threat, so we knew it wasn't over. They got it to 9-9. I was on my tiptoes; I think the whole team was. To score and put the game away is unbelievable." 

In the end, perhaps it was big-game experience that carried the Cranes. They were playing in their third straight Final, while Okemos was in the title game for the first time.

"We knew we weren't playing the way we usually play," Grewal Turner said. "I think we came out a little timid. We realized once we started pushing, they didn't stand a chance. We started pushing too late and it showed; we lost by one." 

Grewal Turner opened the scoring with 10:53 left in the first quarter to give Okemos its only lead. Riley Matthews scored the first two of his three goals just 1:15 apart to give the Cranes a 2-1 lead before Bennett Sherman's tally with 1:42 left created a 2-2 tie after one quarter.

Charlie Pistner, Wagner and Greg Aikens of Cranbrook Kingswood scored the only goals of the second quarter, as the Cranes took a 5-2 lead into halftime. 

Jamieson and Sherman scored back-to-back goals to get Okemos within 5-4 with 3:36 left in the third quarter. Matthews collected his third goal to end the third-quarter scoring, and Wagner scored the first two goals of the fourth to give the Cranes their 8-4 lead.

Jamieson, Davis Lewandowski and Adam Goodsir had fourth-quarter goals for Okemos.

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS: (Top) Cranbrook Kingswood's Johnny Wagner possesses the ball during Saturday's Division 2 Final. (Middle) The Cranes' Bennett Faliski (7) pushes upfield with Okemos' Anders Stakey defending.

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.