Preview: Familiar Foes in Girls Lacrosse

June 5, 2014

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Finalists taking the field Saturday to decide this season’s MHSAA girls lacrosse championships shouldn't be surprised by much from their opponents on the other side of the field.

Rockford and Ann Arbor Pioneer face off in Division 1 in a rematch of an April 2 game that the Rams won but by the slimmest of margins – 10-9. Division 2 finalists East Grand Rapids and Okemos didn't play each other during this regular season but met in both the 2013 Semifinals and 2012 championship game – with the Pioneers winning both games.

Both games will be played at Rockford High School; the Division 1 game begins at 2 p.m. and the Division 2 Final starts at 4:30 p.m.

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

Here's a brief look at the four teams vying for championships (player statistics do not include Semifinals): 

Division 1

Record/rank: 15-5, No. 4 at end of regular season
League finish: First in Southeastern Lacrosse Conference
Coach: Zachary Maghes, sixth season (84-36-2)
Championship history: Division 1 runners-up 2011 and 2007.  
Best wins: 14-6 and 15-14 (Semifinal) over No. 7 Hartland, 14-11 over No. 6 Birmingham United, 13-12 over No. 5 Bloomfield Hills, 11-10 over Division 2 No. 4 Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood.  
Players to watch: Mercedes Reyes, sr. M (59 goals, 25 assists); Juliette Killough, jr. A (42 goals, 22 assists); Caroline Hurd, sr. M (34 goals, 14 assists); Stephanie Terrell, sr. M (32 goals, 13 assists).
Outlook: A team’s losses can sometimes indicate as much as its wins, and Pioneers’ are impressive – three of four in-state losses are to teams playing in this weekend’s championship games. Reyes was an all-state first-team selection last season and qualified for the MHSAA record book this spring – she added another seven goals in the Semifinal to take her total this season to 66. Starting goalie Lauren Chapman, a senior, also has been impressive – she is giving up only 5.6 goals per game.

Record/rank: 16-6-1, No. 1 at end of regular season
League finish: Second in Ottawa-Kent Rainbow Conference
Coach: Mike Emery, seventh season (119-34-6) 
Championship history: Division 1 champion in 2013 and 2010.
Best wins: 11-3 over No. 2 Bloomfield Hills Marian, 12-7 and 14-9 (Semifinal) over No. 5 Bloomfield Hills, 10-9 over No. 4 Ann Arbor Pioneer, 22-11 over No. 9 Brighton, 16-3 and 10-7 over Division 2 No. 7 Grand Rapids Catholic Central, 16-15 over Division 2 No. 3 Caledonia, 6-5 over Division 2 No. 2 Okemos.
Players to watch: Meghan Datema, sr. M (58 goals, 16 assists); Alex Vandermolen, soph. M (50 goals, 14 assists); Kyleigh Egnatuk, sr. A/M (36 goals, 29 assists); Izzy Vickers, sr. M (34 goals, 29 assists).
 All but one player who scored in last season’s MHSAA Final will be back Saturday. Datema and Egnatuk both made the all-state second team last season, and Vandermolen earned an honorable mention. Datema, who added three more goals in the Semifinal, has qualified for the MHSAA record book single-season scoring list, and Vandermolen will do the same with two more goals in the championship game. Senior Kendall Short, who scored twice in last season’s Final, also had 29 goals coming into the week, with four more teammates scoring at least 10.

Division 2

Record/rank: 17-2, No. 1 at end of regular season
League finish: First in Ottawa-Kent Rainbow Conference
Coach: Rich Axtell, fifth season (95-16) 
Championship history: Division 2 champion 2013 and 2012.
Best wins: 10-8, 9-8 and 9-8 (Regional Semifinal) over No. 3 Caledonia; 20-3 over No. 5 Grand Rapids Christian, 10-5, 16-8 and 22-5 (Regional Final) over No. 7 Grand Rapids Catholic Central; 12-10 over No. 4 Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood (Semifinal), 11-9 and 11-10 over Division 1 No. 1 Rockford, 16-5 over Division 1 No. 4 Ann Arbor Pioneer, 15-9 over Division 1 No. 7 Hartland.
Players to watch: Liza Elder, jr. A (76 goals, 46 assists); Meggan Loyd, sr. A (31 goals, eight assists); Lexi Duca, soph. A (25 goals, 14 assists); Lindsay Duca, fr. A (27 goals, 16 assists).
Outlook: Similar to 2013, East Grand Rapids is arguably the top team in either division entering the weekend with a pair of wins over Division 1 No. 1 Rockford and a win as well over No. 4 Ann Arbor Pioneer, Rockford’s opponent in that division’s Final. East Grand Rapids has lost only four games over the last three seasons, and both this spring came to teams from out of state. Elder had two more goals and two more assists in Wednesday’s Semifinal win, and her 126 points rank seventh in MHSAA history for one season. She’s verbally committed to sign next year with collegiate powerhouse Northwestern University.

Record/rank: 20-3, No. 2 at end of regular season
League finish: First in Capital Area Activities Conference
Co-Coaches: Donny Luberto and Charley Lawler, first seasons (20-3)
Championship history: Division 2 champions 2010 and 2009, runners-up 2012 and 2007.  
Best wins: 9-7 over No. 3 Caledonia, 15-1 and 18-5 over No. 8 Haslett/Williamston, 15-4 over No. 6 Livonia Ladywood (Semifinal), 5-4 over Division 1 No. 6 Birmingham United, 9-6 over Division 1 No. 2 Bloomfield Hills Marian, 7-6 over Division 1 No. 5 Bloomfield Hills, 9-6 over Division 1 No. 4 Ann Arbor Pioneer.
Players to watch:  Bailey Ellsworth, sr. A (55 goals, 16 assists); Kendall Luberto, soph. A (48 goals, 30 assists); Olivia Sherman, sr. A (46 goals, 27 assists); Courtney Humphrey, sr. D; Katie Johnson, sr. G (5.0 GAA, .700 save %); Alex King, sr. M (31 goals, 30 assists).
Outlook: Okemos opened with three wins over ranked Division 1 teams, and its only in-state loss came 6-5 to Division 1 No. 1 Rockford. One of the few top teams the Chieftains haven’t faced is East Grand Rapids, but they’re familiar after falling to the Pioneers 17-6 in the 2012 Final and 13-5 in last season’s Semifinal. Ellsworth added another goal Wednesday and also has qualified for the MHSAA single-season goals list. King was an all-state second-teamer last season and sophomore midfielder Angela Palmer adds another 36 goals – but defense might be what sets Okemos apart. Goalie Katie Johnson made the all-state first team as a junior, and Humphrey in front of her made the second team. No opponent in Michigan scored more than seven goals on Okemos this season.

PHOTO: Rockford senior Kyleigh Egnatuck (8) was a key part of last season’s Division 1 championship winner and will take the field again Saturday as the Rams look to repeat. (Click to see more at

Representative Council Approves Limited Regional Seeding in Girls Lacrosse at Fall Meeting

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

December 9, 2022

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.