Comeback Rams Net 4th Straight D1 Title

June 11, 2016

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

BRIGHTON – The MHSAA Division 1 girls lacrosse championship will be staying with Rockford for another – and fourth straight – season. 

And what’s more, it will be staying in the Vander Molen family for another year as well after a clutch run by middle sister Mekenzie late in the second half of Saturday’s championship game at Brighton.

The sophomore attack scored the tying and go-ahead goals over a minute with just under six to play as the Rams came back after trailing most of the afternoon to down Birmingham United 12-9 in the first MHSAA Final matchup between the two powerhouses. 

Senior Alexandra Vander Molen has been one of Rockford’s top players throughout this four-season title run and will continue her career at Ohio State University. But she was mostly left out of the scoring in her final high school game, with Mekenzie netting three goals and freshman sister Karrington adding one to help send oldest sister off with one more win.

“It meant a lot for me to be on the same team as my sister for this last championship for her,” Mekenzie Vander Molen said. “I’ve learned almost everything from my older sister. I’ve learned how to take better shots, better passes, certain things in certain situations.

“She said, ‘You’ve played a very good game. I’m very proud of you.'”

Birmingham was seeking its first MHSAA title since 2012, and together, the two programs have won nine of the 12 Division 1 championships since girls lacrosse playoffs became MHSAA-sponsored in 2005.

Mekenzie Vander Molen scored her first goal with 11:50 to play in the first half and the Rams trailing 4-0.   

The Bulldogs (14-7) dominated off the start and thwarted nearly every attempt Rockford (20-2) made to get back in the game – in large part with the scoring of senior Anna Stachler, whose seven goals tied for second-most in an MHSAA girls lacrosse championship game.

“We threw everything we had at them,” Birmingham coach Jen Dunbar said. “We played hard. They stepped up when they needed to. I can’t pick apart any part of our game. I think we played a great game.”

Rockford drew even for the first time, at 7-7, when Alexandra Vander Molen scored her lone goal with 16:22 to play. Birmingham retook the lead twice on Stachler goals, but Mekenzie Vander Molen's score at 5:46 ended the Bulldogs’ advantage for the last time.

The Rams finished the season on an 11-game winning streak and lost only once to an in-state opponent, by a goal early to East Grand Rapids before later avenging that defeat with a six-goal win.

“Really, it’s just telling the girls to keep their heads in it, and then continue to work,” Rockford coach Mike Emery said of the final comeback. “And we had some other games like that this year. We went down to Illinois and played two really tough teams (Hinsdale Central and New Trier), and we were behind at halftime in both of those and won both of those, and that really helped to prepare us for today, I think.”

Senior Grace Gunneson also had three goals for Rockford, and senior goalie Briana Houle came up with a number of key saves as the Rams became only the sixth team this season to hold Birmingham to fewer than 10 goals.

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS: (Top) Rockford players swarm coach Mike Emery to take hold of their Division 1 championship trophy. (Middle) The Rams’ Mekenzie Vander Molen works for possession against Birmingham’s Grace Fischer.

Representative Council Approves Limited Regional Seeding in Girls Lacrosse at Fall Meeting

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

December 9, 2022

The addition of limited seeding at the Regional level of the Girls Lacrosse Tournament headlined actions taken by the Representative Council of the Michigan High School Athletic Association during its Fall Meeting on Dec. 2 in East Lansing.

Generally, the Council takes only a few actions during its Fall Meeting, with topics often introduced for additional consideration and action during its meetings in winter and spring. This Fall Meeting saw the Council take only three actions, with additional discussion centered on topics expected to receive more specific consideration at MHSAA sport committee meetings this winter and the Council’s meetings in March and May.

The Council approved a Girls Lacrosse Committee proposal to seed the top two teams in every Regional, and place those top seeds on opposite sides of the bracket beginning with the 2023 season. The two teams to be seeded will be determined by using the MHSAA’s Michigan Power Ratings (MPR) formula, which takes into account success and strength of schedule and is used currently to provide seeding information in boys lacrosse, girls and boys basketball, girls and boys soccer, and ice hockey. Only the top two teams in girls lacrosse will be seeded and separated; the other teams in each Regional will be placed on their brackets by random draw.

The Council also approved a Boys Lacrosse Committee recommendation that will allow athletes to participate in up to five quarters per day between teams at multiple levels – for example, varsity and junior varsity – also beginning with the 2023 season. For boys lacrosse multi-team tournaments, if two school teams (for example, the varsity and junior varsity) are at the same event, athletes may play in no more halves or quarters than what is being played by the school’s highest-level team that day. (Example: if the varsity team is playing three 30-minute half games for a total of six halves, a player playing both varsity and JV on the same day can play in six total halves that day.) The “fifth quarter” rule, by allowing athletes to compete on two levels on the same day, is intended to help programs that are otherwise lacking enough participants to field teams at multiple levels.

Taking into account the wintery weather conditions experienced by athletes during the MHSAA alpine ski season, the Council approved a Sports Medicine Advisory Committee recommendation to adopt the “MHSAA Competition and Practice Guidelines for Cold Weather,” which are specific to alpine skiing. The guidelines include a windchill chart and cold standards for ambient temperature. This proposal also was supported by the Ski Committee and will go into effect for the 2022-23 season.

Remaining discussions focused on results from this fall’s Update Meeting survey completed by administrators during the MHSAA’s annual presentations across the state. The Council considered survey data including on questions related to the out-of-season travel rule. The Council also discussed results of a fall survey completed by member school athletic directors and head varsity football coaches concerning ongoing conversations about scheduling and playoff format. Following the Football Committee meeting in January 2023, an ad hoc committee comprised of members of the MHSAA staff, Representative Council, Michigan Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (MIAAA) and Michigan High School Football Coaches Association (MHSFCA) will be convened for further discussion on these topics, with their report to be provided to the Council during its March 2023 meeting.

The Fall Meeting saw the appointment of Westland John Glenn athletic director Jason Malloy for a first-two-year term to the 19-person Council, and the re-appointment of Bay City Western principal Judy Cox for a second two-year term. Malloy previously was appointed to finish a partial term as one of the two representatives of member junior high/middle schools.

The Council reelected Scott Grimes, superintendent for Grand Haven Area Public Schools, as its president; and Vic Michaels, director of physical education and athletics for the Archdiocese of Detroit, as secretary-treasurer. Brighton High School athletic director John Thompson was elected Council vice president.

The Representative Council is the legislative body of the MHSAA. All but five members are elected by member schools. Four members are appointed by the Council to facilitate representation of females and minorities, and the 19th position is occupied by the Superintendent of Public Instruction or designee.

The MHSAA is a private, not-for-profit corporation of voluntary membership by more than 1,500 public and private senior high schools and junior high/middle schools which exists to develop common rules for athletic eligibility and competition. No government funds or tax dollars support the MHSAA, which was the first such association nationally to not accept membership dues or tournament entry fees from schools. Member schools which enforce these rules are permitted to participate in MHSAA tournaments, which attract more than 1.3 million spectators each year.