By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
For the first time in the brief history of MHSAA girls lacrosse, a top team from the Grand Rapids area will face a top team from suburban Detroit in both Finals, scheduled for Saturday at Rockford High School.
And those Grand Rapids-area contenders also are the favorites, both ranked No. 1 in their respective divisions at the end of the regular season.
Defending Division 2 champion East Grand Rapids faces Livonia Ladywood in the day's first game at 2 p.m., followed by the host Rams taking on Bloomfield Hills United for the Division 1 title at 4:30. Click for more information including all results from this season's tournament. Both finals also will be streamed live on MHSAA.tv and broadcast on MHSAANetwork.com, and shown next week on Comcast.
Here's a brief look at the four teams vying for championships (player statistics do not include Semifinals):
BLOOMFIELD HILLS UNITED
Record/rank: 19-5, No. 4 at end of regular season
League finish: First in Oakland Activities Association Red
Coach: Andy Reed, third season (40-23-1)
Championship history: Has not played in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 12-11 and 11-10 (Regional Quarterfinal) over No. 9 Birmingham United, 16-6 over No. 10 Grosse Pointe South, 13-11 and 14-6 (Regional Final) over No. 7 Troy, 8-7 over No. 5 Birmingham Marian in Regional Semifinal, 10-9 over No. 3 Ann Arbor Pioneer in Semifinal.
Players to watch: Margaret Metzger, sr. M (81 goals, 32 assists); Maria D’Angelo, jr. A (61 goals, 21 assists); Emma Mucci, jr. M (28 goals, 24 assists); Christina Arens, jr. A (24 goals, 19 assists); Maddie Monahan, sr. M (29 goals, 14 assists).
Outlook: Bloomfield Hills has more than doubled its wins (nine) from Reed’s first season and won 14 straight this spring. The Blackhawks also have survived a run of four straight ranked opponents during the postseason, with three one-goal wins during the advance. Metzger added five more goals in the Semifinal win, and her 86 total puts her 12th in the MHSAA record book for one season.
Record/rank: 20-5, No. 1 at end of regular season
League finish: Second in O-K Conference Tier 1
Coach: Mike Emery, sixth season (102-28-5)
Championship history: Division 1 champion 2010.
Best wins: 12-6 over No. 3 Ann Arbor Pioneer, 7-4 over No. 5 Birmingham Marian, 9-5 and 15-9 (Semifinal) over No. 2 Hartland, 9-4 over No. 8 Brighton, 17-16 (OT) over Division 2 No. 2 Grand Rapids Catholic Central.
Players to watch: Meghan Datema, jr. M (44 goals 14 assists); Erika Neumen, sr. M (68 goals, 27 assists); Alex VanderMolen, fr. A/M (51 goals, seven assists).
Outlook: A win over Bloomfield Hills United would give the Rams victories over all four of the other top-five teams in Division 1 at the end of the regular season. Rockford also beat some of the best in Division 2, splitting with second-ranked Grand Rapids Catholic Central, sweeping two games against No. 3 Caledonia and taking a win from No. 4 Okemos (however, two losses came against Division 2 No. 1 East Grand Rapids). Three more players in addition to those listed above have scored at least 27 goals so far this season.
EAST GRAND RAPIDS
Record/rank: 21-2, No. 1 at end of regular season
League finish: First in O-K Conference Tier 1
Coach: Rich Axtell, fourth season (77-14)
Championship history: Division 2 champion 2012.
Best wins: 6-2 and 13-5 (Semifinal) over No. 4 Okemos, 12-8, 17-8 and 14-13 (Regional Final) over No. 2 Grand Rapids Catholic Central, 10-5, 15-11 and 13-11 (Regional Semifinal) over No. 3 Caledonia, 14-9 and 13-5 over Division 1 No. 1 Rockford, 12-11 over Division 1 No. 2 Hartland.
Players to watch: Claire Ludlow, sr. A (56 goals, 16 assists); Liza Elder, soph. A (54 goals, 21 assists); Katherine Golladay, soph. M (40 goals, 26 assists).
Outlook: It’s tough to argue against East Grand Rapids as the state’s top team regardless of division given its first-place finish in the super-competitive O-K Tier 1 and a list of wins that also includes victories over Division 1 top-10 opponents Bloomfield Hills United, Brighton, Birmingham United and Ann Arbor Pioneer. Total, East Grand Rapids had seven players with at least 18 goals this season entering the Semifinal, making them an incredibly-tough defensive matchup.
Record/rank: 15-1, No. 8 at end of regular season
League finish: First in Detroit Catholic High School League Division II
Coach: Kris Sanders, fourth season (48-19-1)
Championship history: Has not played in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 15-11 over No. 9 Flint Powers Catholic, 12-8 over No. 5 Farmington Hills Mercy in Regional Final, 11-10 over No. 10 Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood in Semifinal.
Players to watch: Jaclyn Snyder, sr. AW (36 goals, five assists); Megan Leon, jr. A (40 goals, eight assists); Jessica Snyder, jr. A (49 goals, 20 assists).
Outlook: Ladywood made its way into the Division 2 computer rankings’ top 10 early this season and held strong, with its only loss to Division 1 No. 5 Birmingham Marian in the regular-season finale. Senior Christina Riga and junior Rachel Donabedian also have scored at least 30 goals apiece this season, and the team scored fewer than 11 only in that lone loss.
PHOTO: East Grand Rapids' Claire Ludlow looks for an opening in front of the net during her team's Division 2 championship victory last season.
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.