Make it 4 Straight for East Grand Rapids

June 6, 2015

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor 

ROCKFORD – “Dynasty” is too easily thrown around in describing sports teams. 

But East Grand Rapids’ girls lacrosse program has earned that level of distinction with its success over the last four seasons.

The top-ranked Pioneers’ finished their fourth straight MHSAA Division 2 championship run with a 19-6 win over second-ranked Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood on Saturday at Rockford High School. 

In doing so, East Grand Rapids also made it four seasons without losing to a Michigan team, a streak that began with the first game of 2012. The Pioneers finished this spring 24-1, losing only to the team from Medina, Ohio, while picking up wins as well on the road at Illinois powers Hinsdale Central and Wilmette Loyola Academy. 

“It was a goal of ours to send a message throughout the state, and the country. And we went out and played Illinois teams, and succeeded,” said Pioneers senior Liza Elder, who finished her final season as one of the top single-season and career scorers in MHSAA history. “We had a lot of girls playing together for a long time, and I just think we were great leaders to the underclassmen and really bonded this year.”

East Grand Rapids’ last loss to a Michigan team came in an overtime Regional game in 2011 against eventual Division 2 champion Grand Rapids Catholic Central. 

Total, the Pioneers are 92-5 over the last four seasons – with seniors Elder, Jane Goodspeed, Emily French and Elle O’Connell part of the lineup for the entirety.

“Two years ago, the class of 2013 has a similar run. They took a little longer to jell, but this senior class had those upperclassmen to bring them along,” East Grand Rapids coach Rich Axtell said. “This class is clearly our best class, the best team we’ve ever put on the field. They set a really high bar for the underclassmen, and the underclassmen know it.” 

A total of 12 seniors also played roles on the 2014 championship team before helping the Pioneers take another step toward an unprecedented run. No other team has won four straight titles in MHSAA girls lacrosse history; two other teams won three straight.

Only three opponents this season scored in double figures on East Grand Rapids, which beat reigning Division 1 champion Rockford twice among its most notable instate wins. 

“If a team beat us, they could claim that for years and years,” Pioneers sophomore Lindsay Duca said. “Our coach emphasizes that we can’t have a bad day. We can’t let one thing upset us; if one person is playing badly, the whole team has to pick each other up.

“(The Medina loss) was a couple weeks ago, and we came right back at it, really motivated.” 

Cranbrook Kingswood scored first Saturday, only 45 seconds in on a shot by senior Maddy Weber. The score was knotted 2-2 after 10 minutes before Duca scored the second of her five goals to start a 5-0 run. Elder had two of her seven goals during another five-goal run during the second half.

Elder finished this season with 119 goals, second most in one season since lacrosse became an MHSAA-sponsored sport in 2005. Duca also had five assists Saturday. 

Cranbrook Kingswood (18-4) played in its first MHSAA Final, led by first-year coach Greg Courter, who formerly coached girls lacrosse in California and Colorado.

The Cranes eliminated three top-10 teams during the tournament, and their other three losses this season were all by only one goal apiece. 

Freshman Isabelle Scane had three of the team’s six goals and an assist, and Weber – one of six seniors – scored twice.

“I said (to my team after), someday we’ll be holding up the other trophy, and when we do that, it will be dedicated to the seniors,” Courter said. “This is our first year together, and we give them all the credit for us making to the state final for the first time ever.” 

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS: (Top) East Grand Rapids claimed its fourth straight Division 2 championship Saturday. (Middle) The Pioneers’ Liza Elder (9) moves the ball upfield with Cranbrook Kingswood’s Leah Dolik giving chase.

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.)