Northville Title Streak Grows, Boczar Sisters Close in Dominating Fashion

By Dean Holzwarth
Special for

October 16, 2021

ALLENDALE -- The Northville girls golf team suffered a rare loss to Plymouth at last week’s Lower Peninsula Division 1 Regional.

But it provided the Mustangs with ample motivation to turn the tables on their closest challenger and extend a historic run.

Northville won its fourth straight MHSAA Finals on Saturday by completing a two-day total of 615 strokes at Grand Valley State’s The Meadows.

Plymouth placed runner-up, 12 strokes back, while Okemos (650) took third. 

Plymouth senior Bridget Boczar captured the individual medalist honor after a final-round 3-under-par 69 gave her a one-stroke win over her twin sister, Grace Boczar.

“I think, if anything, losing Regionals to Plymouth really motivated us to play better at states and helped us prepare more versus winning Regionals and coming into the first (seed),” Northville senior Haesol Park said. “I wasn’t part of the first (Finals championship), but it’s really been an amazing experience. It’s just amazing to be part of a team and not just individually winning. Just the whole team contributing to win one big award. It’s unreal.” 

Another senior standout, Megha Vallabhaneni, led the Mustangs with a pair of stellar rounds.

She carded a 75 on Friday, and added a final-round 1-under-par 71 to place third overall.

“It’s obviously an awesome feeling, but there was a lot of pressure going into it with already winning three (in a row),” Vallabhaneni said. “Losing to Plymouth did affect us, but we knew we were going to do well and we played one stroke at a time and one hole at a time.”

Plymouth golfAlso contributing for Northville were junior Samantha Coleman (154), senior Meghana Lanka (162) and junior Avi Gill.

The Mustangs became the eighth school in MHSAA history, and second in the Lower Peninsula, to win four straight Finals, and also the first to do so in Division 1.

“Obviously to be in that elite company is amazing, and it's not something we talk about a lot, but we also understand that there are those opportunities in front of us to take advantage of,” Northville coach Chris Cronin said. “Winning state titles and adding our name to the record books with winning four in a row is an incredible feeling, and it has been an incredible journey for me and for this team.”

Despite his team being the favorite entering the Finals based on past successes and the return of four from last year’s squad, Cronin cautioned against looking too far ahead.

“I think the great challenge all year has been living up to those expectations that everybody thinks you are a shoe-in for the state title, but we knew both Plymouth and Okemos were going to be outstanding teams,” Cronin said. “Just keeping our head about us. We didn’t win Regionals, and maybe that made us play a little loose on day one and we were a little more comfortable. We had enough of a lead yesterday that we didn’t have to build on it too much today to take the victory.”

A total of 13 golfers were within four strokes of the lead entering Saturday, but Bridget Boczar emerged from of the pack with the best round of the Finals after opening with a 74.

“It was really exciting, and I didn’t really focus on winning this weekend,” she said. “I just focused on striking the ball well, putting a good stroke on my putts and then I knew eventually I would be at the top of the leaderboard somewhere.

“Just to finally make a few birdies on the back nine felt really good, and to end up on top, it’s great to finally get the job done.”

Grace Boczar was tied for the first-round lead with an even-par 72, and again shot 72 on Saturday.

“I didn’t care where I finished this weekend as long as I played well, and I did that,” Grace Boczar said. “I played some of the best golf I have all season, and so I’m very proud of how I played. I just focused on my game and what I could control and did that well.” 

Both sisters are headed next to Oakland University to play golf.

Plymouth also placed Finals runner-up in 2018.

“This is one of the best teams Plymouth golf has ever had, and we’ve come in second twice in the last four years,” Bridget Boczar said. “It’s a little disappointing not to win, but Northville is so good and they are such great competitors. They really deserved it.” 

The field also included the past two Division 1 individual champions. Okemos senior Allison Cui, who won the 2019 Division 1 Final and then claimed the Division 2 championship in 2020, tied for seventh this weekend. Grand Blanc junior Kate Brody, last season’s Division 1 champion, tied for fourth this time.

Click for full results.

PHOTOS (Top) Northville's Samantha Coleman hits out of the sand during Saturday's second round at The Meadows. (Middle) Plymouth's Bridget Boczar shows her team's score card, which notes her individual championship score. (Click for more from High School Sports Scene.) 

Lacrosse Finals Move to U-M Among Headlines as Spring Sports Ramp Up

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

April 9, 2024

The Girls & Boys Lacrosse Finals will be played at University of Michigan Lacrosse Stadium for the first time, one of the most notable changes for this season as sports ramp up for more than 100,000 athletes anticipated to participate this spring for Michigan High School Athletic Association member schools.

The MHSAA sponsors postseason competition each spring in baseball, girls and boys lacrosse, girls soccer, softball, girls and boys track & field, boys golf (Lower and Upper Peninsula) and girls golf (UP), and girls (LP) and boys (UP) tennis.

The U-M Lacrosse Stadium opened for competition in 2018 and seats 2,000 spectators. The Girls Lacrosse Finals will be played Friday, June 7, with Division 1 at 4 p.m. and Division 2 at 7 p.m. The Boys Lacrosse Finals will be played the following day, June 8, with Division 2 at 11 a.m. and Division 1 at 2 p.m.

Girls lacrosse also has a significant format adjustment this season, as games will be played with four 12-minutes quarters instead of the previous two halves, in part to allow coaches more opportunities to provide direct instruction during a game. Two more rules changes are expected to improve flow of play – players awarded a free position outside of the critical scoring area no longer must come to a stop and settled stance before self-starting, and false start penalties outside the critical scoring area have been eliminated.

Several more rules changes will be noticeable this spring:

In boys lacrosse, a change was made to enhance player safety. Play will stop immediately any time a player’s helmet comes off, and that player may not return until the next dead ball after play continues.

Fair and legal starts are a continued emphasis for track & field, and a rule change will allow for movement before the start of the race as long as a competitor does not leave their mark with a hand or a foot after the “set” command, or make forward motion before the starting device is activated.

A significant rule change in softball alters pitch delivery mechanics. The pitcher may now have both feet off the ground at the same time when releasing the ball as long as both feet remain within the 24-inch width of a pitching plate and the pitcher does not replant the pivot foot before delivering the pitch.

Another change in softball requires that a playbook/playcard be worn on the wrist or kept in a back pocket to reduce distractions. If worn by the pitcher, the equipment must be worn on the non-pitching arm. Similarly in baseball, a wristband with plays or instructions will be permitted but must be a single, solid color, and for pitchers may not contain the colors white or gray or be otherwise distracting. Baseball players must wear this wristband on the wrist or forearm, and pitchers may wear one only on their non-pitching arm.

Also in baseball, a rule change allows for one-way communication devices worn by the catcher to receive instructions from the dugout while on defense, for the purpose of calling pitches. The coach must be inside the dugout/bench area to use the communication device.

Golfers now are required to participate in at least four competitions for the high school team prior to representing that school team in an MHSAA Regional or Final. Those four regular-season competitions may be 9 or 18-hole events.

In tennis, for the first time in Lower Peninsula play, a No. 1 doubles flight from a non-qualifying team will be able to advance from its Regional to Finals competition. To do so, that No. 1 doubles flight must finish first or second at its Regional, and the No. 1 singles player from that team also must have qualified for the Finals individually by finishing first or second in Regional play.

On the soccer pitch, two officiating-related changes will be especially noticeable. Officials now may stop the clock to check on an injured player without that player being required to leave the match – previously that player would have to sub out. Also, categories for fouls have been redefined: careless (which is a foul but does not receive a card), reckless (a foul with a yellow card) and excessive force (foul with red card). 

The 2023-24 Spring campaign culminates with postseason tournaments, as the championship schedule begins with the Upper Peninsula Girls & Boys Golf and Boys Tennis Finals during the week of May 27 and wraps up with Girls Soccer, Baseball and Softball Finals on June 15. Here is a complete list of winter tournament dates:

Districts – May 23-June 1
Regional Semifinals – June 5
Regional Finals, Quarterfinals – June 8
Semifinals – June 13-14
Finals – June 15

LP Boys Regionals – May 28-June 1
UP Girls & Boys Finals – May 29, 30, 31 or June 1
LP Boys Finals – June 7-8

Boys Lacrosse
Pre-Regionals – May 10-15
Regionals – May 16-29
Quarterfinals – May 31 or June 1
Semifinals – June 5
Finals – June 8

Girls Lacrosse
Pre-Regionals – May 16-18, or May 20
Regionals – May 22-June 1
Semifinals – June 5
Finals – June 7

Girls Soccer
Districts – May 22-June 1
Regionals – June 4-8
Semifinals – June 11-12
Finals – June 14-15

Districts – May 23-June 1
Regionals – June 8
Quarterfinals – June 11
Semifinals – June 13-14
Finals – June 15

LP Girls Regionals – May 15-18
UP Boys Finals – May 29, 30, 31 or June 1
LP Girls Finals – May 31-June 1

Track & Field
Regionals – May 16-18
Finals – June 1