Preview: Epic 2022 Finals Set to Play Out Again in Title-Deciding Rematches

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

June 8, 2023

Surprises will be hard to come by Saturday at Rockford High School, as both MHSAA Girls Lacrosse Finals are repeats of last season’s championship games and rematches from earlier this spring.

In Division 1, Brighton defeated Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern/Eastern 12-11 in overtime to close last season, but FHNE opened this one with an 11-6 win over the Bulldogs on March 23 before the teams tied 6-6 in an April 29 rematch.

In Division 2, East Grand Rapids also clinched last year’s title with a 12-11 overtime win, over Detroit Country Day. The Yellowjackets dominated this season’s matchup, however, 18-5 on May 12.

Below is a glance at all four teams playing at Rockford. Statistics are through Regional Finals except for Brighton’s, which include the Semifinal . Rankings are based on the Michigan Power Rating formula used to seed at the Regional level. The Division 2 Final is set for 2 p.m., with Division 1 following at 4:30. Tickets cost $11 and are good for both games, and may be purchased online only at GoFan.

Both games will be broadcast and available with subscription from, with free audio broadcasts on the MHSAA Network.

Division 1

Record/ranking: 16-8-1, No. 6
League finish: Tied for second in Kensington Lakes Activities Association West
Coach: Ashton Peters, fifth season (57-23-3)
Championship history: Division 1 champion 2022 and 2011, four runner-up finishes.
Best wins: 13-10 (Semifinal) and 7-6 over No. 2 Bloomfield Hills, 12-11 over No. 4 Hartland, 12-10 over No. 10 White Lake Lakeland.
Players to watch: Cecelia Mainhardt, jr. M (74 goals, 16 assists, 34 ground balls); Ella Toth, soph. A (46 goals, 25 assists, 33 ground balls); Gabrielle Buckenberger, jr. G (8.1 goals-against average, 166 saves); Ashleigh Toth, sr. D (4 goals, 1 assist, 33 ground balls).
Outlook: Brighton will be playing in its fifth-straight Division 1 Final but for the first time with a chance to repeat. The Bulldogs rebounded from a 2-4 start this spring and have won eight straight with their only loss over the last month to Division 2 finalist East Grand Rapids, 13-10. Ashleigh Toth, Buckenberger and Mainhardt have been named to the all-state first team, while Ella Toth has made the second and junior attack Georgia Gill (82 goals, 20 assists) and sophomore defender Keelin Ehman (37 ground balls) made the third team. Mainhardt, Ashleigh Toth and Kaia Malachino are the team’s lone senior starters, and Malachino has 18 goals and 10 assists over just seven games.

Record/ranking: 20-2-1, No. 1
League finish: First in Ottawa-Kent Conference Tier 1
Coach: Joe Curcuru, third season (51-9-1)
Championship history: Division 1 runner-up 2023.
Best wins: 10-2 (Semifinal) and 12-11 over No. 4 Hartland, 14-11 (Regional Final) and 10-8 over No. 3 Rockford, 10-4 over No. 2 Bloomfield Hills, 11-6 over No. 6 Brighton, 18-11 and 16-7 over Division 2 No. 6 East Grand Rapids, 12-2 over Division 2 No. 4 Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood, 11-5 over Division 2 No. 1 Detroit Country Day, 13-12 over Division 2 No. 2 Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central.
Players to watch: Alayna Davis, sr. A (72 goals, 70 assists); Sommer-Jo Grieser, sr. G (6.45 goals-against average, 132 saves); Lila Fus, soph. D (2 goals, 5 assists); Mia Dye, jr. A (68 goals, 21 assists).
Outlook: After coming so close to a championship last season in its first as a program, Northern/Eastern has steamrolled through this spring with its only losses to Division 2 finalist Detroit Country Day – after defeating the Yellowjackets six days earlier – and rival Forest Hills Central, which the BirdDogs avenged three weeks later. Davis, Grieser, Fus and Dye all have been named to the all-state first team, with junior midfielder Isabella Bainbridge (49 goals/19 assists) making the second team and senior attack Alexandra Slywka (37/22) making the third. Davis has more than 160 goals combined over just the last two seasons.

Division 2

Record/ranking: 17-1, No. 1
League finish: Does not play in a conference.
Coach: Emma Kuehl, fifth season (65-7)
Championship history: Division 2 runner-up 2022 and 2005.
Best wins: 21-4 (Regional Final) and 7-5 over No. 4 Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood, 18-5 over No. 6 East Grand Rapids, 15-6 over Division 1 No. 1 Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern/Eastern, 11-7 and 16-7 over Division 1 No. 6 Brighton.
Players to watch: Hadley Keating, jr. A (88 goals, 18 assists); Brooke Winowich, soph. M (4 goals); Emma Arico, jr. M (41 goals, 22 assists, 118 draw controls); Sadie Rifkin, jr. M (15 goals, 3 assists).
Outlook: The Yellowjackets’ only loss was to Division 1 top-ranked Forest Hills Northern/Eastern, which they avenged less than a week later. Otherwise, only Cranbrook and Brighton got closer than nine goals. And most impressive of all: Country Day has only one senior. Keating has a combined 160 goals over the last two seasons and has been named to the all-state first team with Brooke Winowich, Arico and Rifkin. Sophomore attack Georgia Pavlou (47 goals/53 assists) and freshman goalie Campbell Linder (3.9 goals-against average/5 shutouts) have made the second team, sophomore mid Olivia Winowich (42 goals/8 assists) and junior defender Alessia Sessa the third and sophomore attack Mary Pavlou (44/10) earned honorable mention.

Record/ranking: 16-9, No. 6
League finish: Tied for fourth in O-K Tier 1
Coach: Meggan Loyd, second season (35-11)
Championship history: Eight Division 2 championships (most recent 2022), runner-up in 2017.
Best wins: 15-7 over No. 2 Haslett/Williamston in Semifinal, 9-6 and 10-8 over Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood, 12-6 over No. 7 Grand Rapids Northview in Regional Quarterfinal, 18-11 over No. 8 Caledonia in Regional Semifinal, 13-10 over Division 1 No. 6 Brighton.
Players to watch: Vivian LaMange, jr. A (94 goals, 41 assists); Olivia Shaw, jr. A (61 goals, 12 assists); MC Millman, soph. M (21 goals, 8 assists); Elizabeth Grin, sr. D (29 ground balls).
Outlook: East Grand Rapids has won three straight Division 2 championships (not counting the canceled 2020 season) and put together a six-game winning streak to earn an opportunity to win a fourth title in a row. The Pioneers have held their opponents to single-digit goals in five of those six recent wins. All but one loss this season came to opponents that finished the regular season among the top three in MPR in either Division 1 or 2. LaMange has been selected for the all-state first team, Shaw for the second, Millman and Grin to the third and senior attack Brecken Winkel (21 goals/9 assists) received an honorable mention.

PHOTO Detroit Country Day’s Alessia Sessa (1) defends during Wednesday's Semifinal win over Ann Arbor Skyline and Lilly Shannon (17). (Photo by Terry Lyons.)