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.

Bloomfield Hills' Semifinal Run Powered By Scoring Skill, Talent in Net

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

September 29, 2023

Bloomfield Hills advanced to the Division 1 Semifinals this spring with one of the highest-scoring lineups in MHSAA girls lacrosse history, and one of its most accomplished goalies.

The Black Hawks scored 325 goals – sixth-most on the list – in going 19-4. Ella Lucia, then a junior, posted 17 single-game record entries for goals, assists or points, finishing with 125 goals, 59 assists and 184 points and pushing her career numbers to 186 goals, 113 assists and 299 points over three seasons.

Teammate Ilana Watson, a senior this spring, was added eight times for single-game accomplishments and also for 71 goals, 64 assists and 135 points for the season and 102 assists and 205 points over her two-season career. Goalie Sydney Butler, now a senior, made the single-season saves list with 186 and the career list with 466 over her first three seasons. Marlee Watson, who also graduated in the spring, was added for seven goals in a game.

See below for more recent record book updates for girls lacrosse:

Girls Lacrosse

On April 25, 2022, Holland West Ottawa then-senior Ella Spooner scored 13 of her team’s 16 goals against Zeeland. Those 13 goals tied for fourth-most in one game and also placed her on the single-game points list. She is playing at Kalamazoo College.

Troy Athens’ Claire Balintfy piled up eight record book entries during her sophomore season in 2022. A goalie, she posted a career-high 22 saves to tie for eighth on the single-game list, on which she appears six more times. Her 231 saves over 18 games that season rank second on that list as well.

Lexie Springman took 12 shots and made eight in Portage’s 19-9 win over Grand Ledge on April 5. She was a senior at Portage Central and is continuing at Regis University in Colorado.

Haslett/Williamston’s Abby Russell opened her high school career March 22 with a record book-worthy performance. The Haslett now-sophomore made the single-game goals list with seven in her team’s 10-9 loss at Portage.

Okemos’ Bridget Cox was a sophomore during the 2021 season when she earned her first four record book entries. She made the single-game saves list three times with a high of 16, and totaled 157 saves over 18 games total.

Holly/Ortonville Brandon tallied three single-game entries this past season. Junior Dakota Pinson made the single-game goals list with 10 against Fenton/Linden on May 4. Junior teammate Lainey Lasky made the same list twice with seven goals both times, against Flushing on May 3 and Lake Fenton/Goodrich on May 16.

Through three seasons, Salem’s Mileena Cotter has earned 35 record book entries – including setting the single-game record with 18 goals April 6 against Saline. Her 123 goals over just 10 games this past season rank seventh, and her 257 goals over 30 career games rank ninth on that list. Her career-high 19 points on April 5 against Dexter rank second for points in a game. She’s committed to sign with Syracuse.

Pontiac Notre Dame Prep junior Emily Szalach earned a record book entry with her 11 goals against Warren Regina on May 15 during a 13-12 triple-overtime win. It was the first entry for NDP for girls lacrosse.

Lake Orion’s Quinn McElroy capped her three-season varsity career this spring with eight record book listings, including for 69 goals and 100 points over 16 games as a senior, and 172 goals and 224 points for her career. Teammate Morgan Vasquez made single-season lists with 66 goals and 81 points, as did Amelia Guccione with 50 goals. Ava Adkins joined McElroy and Vasquez with single-game qualifiers, hers for 15 saves in a game against Troy Athens on April 12. Vasquez is a senior and Guccione a junior this school year, and Adkins also graduated this spring. McElroy is playing at Grand Valley State.

A pair of Detroit Cass Tech senior standouts made single-game and season scoring lists this spring. Taylor Weston made the single-game goals list three times, with a high of eight, and for her 64 goals total over 15 games; she also earned a listing for her 53 goals as a junior in 2022. Teammate Kayla Carroll-Williams made the single-game list twice, both for scoring seven goals, and the single-season list for 62 goals over 15 games.

PHOTO Bloomfield Hills goalie Sydney Butler, center, prepares to stop a shot against Bloomfield Hills Marian on May 11. (Photo by Susan Adams Photography.)