Pioneers Stake Claim as State's Best

June 8, 2013

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

ROCKFORD – With three minutes to play in Saturday’s MHSAA Division 2 Girls Lacrosse Final, East Grand Rapids’ sideline emptied as subs and late-season call-ups all at once replaced the line-up on the field.

As the first-string group exited, Pioneers fans offered a standing ovation to a group that has become arguably the state’s elite over their four seasons.

East Grand Rapids, ranked No. 1 at the end of the regular season, finished its second-straight MHSAA championship run with a 16-6 win over Livonia Ladywood at Rockford High.

A group of 11 seniors – many who have played together since fifth grade – leave the program after helping accumulate a 78-14 record during their high school careers.

“We’ve learned a lot. Our coaches have been so committed to the program, and we have to thank them for everything and the parents as well,” EGR senior Claire Ludlow said. “The year before last year (2011) was when we really wanted it. We didn’t make it to the state finals, but that was our driving force especially for last year and this year as well.”

The Pioneers improved from 13-6 to 15-6 to 28-0 and now 22-2 over the last four seasons under coach Rich Axtell, and this season’s losses came to teams from Ohio and Illinois. EGR hasn’t lost to an in-state opponent since 2011 – when it fell in double overtime in a Regional Semifinal to eventual Finals champion Grand Rapids Catholic Central.

East Grand Rapids beat GRCC three times this season and finished a combined 8-0 against the next three teams ranked after the Pioneers in Division 2 at the end of the regular season. They also beat six of the top 10 in Division 1, including top-ranked Rockford.

“We made ourselves a tougher schedule ... (and) really challenged the girls this year,” Axtell said. “This was one of those years where we came in with great expectations, and the girls met every single one of them.

“It’s a great way to send off 11 seniors. They’ve had one heck of a career here. They came in when this program was struggling and set a really great standard for the young ladies coming up.”

East Grand Rapids built a 6-0 lead over the first 7 minutes, 32 seconds and led 9-2 at halftime. But Axtell knew the Blazers had come back from an early deficit to beat Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood by a goal in the Semifinal, and he made a point of pointing that out.

“Recently we’ve gotten up and let the other team back in. ... We know (Ladywood) had it in them,” Axtell said. “The girls maintained their focus and basically just kept extending the lead. That sort of composure is something we’ve been preaching to the girls.”

East Grand Rapids indeed did keep a comfortable lead – although Ladywood trailed only 10-6 over the final 42 minutes.

“That’s the type of team I have. They won’t give up. They just want to keep going,” Ladywood coach Kris Sanders said. “If it’s a 10-goal differential, they’re still going to do it, which I like. I’m very proud of that.”

Eight Pioneers scored, led by Ludlow and senior Martha Bogo with three goals apiece. Bogo also had a pair of assists.

Junior Jessica Snyder scored four goals for Ladywood, which will graduate eight players but should return its top two scorers and three of its top five next spring. The Blazers also set a standard for teams to come – they finished 15-2, and Saturday’s was their first MHSAA Finals appearance in the sport.

Ladywood’s only other loss this season was to Division 1 power Birmingham Marian. The Blazers were ranked No. 8 in Division 2 entering the postseason.

“I couldn’t ask for anything else. If we’re 15-2 and get to the state final and lose the state final, that’s OK,” Sanders said. “We can’t lose sight of all the success we’ve had in the season.”

Click for a full box score.

PHOTOS: (Top) East Grand Rapids sophomore Katherine Golladay winds up before scoring one of her two goals Saturday. (Middle) The Pioneers' Martha Bogo (16) works to keep the ball from Ladywood's Jaclyn Snyder.

Performance of the Week: Grand Rapids Catholic Central's Claire Marosi

June 13, 2024

Claire Marosi headshotClaire Marosi ♦ Grand Rapids Catholic Central
Senior ♦ Lacrosse

The Cougars’ standout midfielder capped one of the highest-scoring seasons in MHSAA history with two goals and two assists as Grand Rapids Catholic Central edged Detroit Country Day in the Division 2 Final to win its first championship since 2011 and finish this season 23-0.

Marosi finished with 154 goals and 34 assists this spring; her goals rank third all-time for a single season and her 188 points were fourth-most on that list. She’ll continue her career at Northwestern, which finished NCAA Division I runner-up this year after winning the title in 2023. She's interested in studying communications. Marosi also played basketball and ran cross country as a senior, and previously ran track as well.

@mhsaasports 🥍POW: Claire Marosi #lacrosse #GRCC #letsgo #champion #goal #part1 #highschoolsports #tiktalk #interview #performanceoftheweek #mistudentaid #fyp #MHSAA ♬ original sound - MHSAA

@mhsaasports 🥍POW: Claire Marosi #tiktalk #questiontime #part2 #bridgerton #yoga #hearthands #emoji #car #rolos #performanceoftheweek #mistudentaid #fyp #MHSAA ♬ original sound - MHSAA

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Past 2023-24 Honorees

June 6: Emmry Ross, Onsted track & field - Report
May 31:
Isaac Sturgess, Flint Powers Catholic baseball - Report
May 30:
Abby Russell, Allen Park track & field - Report 
May 23:
Isabel Thelen, St. Johns tennis - Report
May 16:
Ally Katinas, Novi lacrosse - Report
May 9:
Peter Roehl, Rochester Adams golf - Report
May 2:
Lilah Smith, Richland Gull Lake soccer - Report
April 25:
Mason Mayne, Lawton track & field - Report
April 18:
Alli Wright, Jenison softball - Report
April 11:
Chloe Wishart, Trenton soccer - Report
March 28:
Jenna Maki, Ishpeming basketball - Report
March 22:
Jaremiah Palmer, Niles Brandywine basketball - Report
March 15:
Leah Hodge, North Farmington gymnastics - Report
March 8:
Darius Marines, Detroit Catholic Central wrestling - Report
March 1:
Rylee Smith, Zeeland West bowling - Report
Feb. 22:
Caleb Lewandowski, Traverse City West skiing - Report
Feb. 15:
Jadin Mix, Onaway basketball - Report
Feb. 8:
Onalee Wallis, Cadillac skiing - Report
Feb. 1:
Abbey DeGraw, Rochester Hills Stoney Creek competitive cheer - Report
Jan. 25:
Ewan Todd, Riverview swimming - Report
Jan. 18:
Ashley Weller, Jackson Northwest basketball - Report
Jan. 11:
Michael Baldwin, Saginaw Arthur Hill wrestling - Report
Dec. 15:
Jena Fijolek, Fenton bowling - Report
Dec. 8:
Sophia Wagner, Escanaba gymnastics - Report
Dec. 1:
Isaiah Marshall, Southfield Arts & Technology football - Report
Nov. 24:
Sarah Bradley, Clarkston Everest Collegiate volleyball - Report
Nov. 17:
Kalieb Osborne, Waterford Mott football - Report
Nov. 10:
Tekalegn Vlasma, Muskegon Western Michigan Christian soccer - Report
Nov. 3:
Colton Kinnie, Birmingham Seaholm football - Report
Oct. 27:
Lauren Timpf, Macomb Lutheran North golf - Report
Oct. 20:
Alena Li, Okemos golf - Report
Oct. 13:
Seth Norder, Grand Haven cross country - Report
Oct. 5:
Paige Anderson, Muskegon Reeths-Puffer golf - Report
Sept. 29:
MacKenzie Bisballe, Lake City volleyball - Report
Sept. 22:
Jhace Massey, Gladwin football - Report
Sept. 15:
Kaylee Draper, Sturgis swimming - Report
Sept. 8:
Owen Jackson, Traverse City St. Francis tennis - Report
Sept. 1:
Rachel Forsyth, Ann Arbor Pioneer cross country - Report

(Photo by Jamie McNinch/