Both of Saturday’s MHSAA Girls Lacrosse Finals will be rematches of regular season games this season. Both also mix championship game regulars with teams that have earned first or first-time-in-a-long-time opportunities.
In Division 1, Brighton is that regular, making its fourth-straight championship game appearance. The Bulldogs will face Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern/Eastern, a cooperative that didn’t exist in this form until last season. FHNE defeated Brighton 15-7 and 11-7 this spring.
In Division 2, East Grand Rapids when it steps on the field will tie Rockford for the most championship game appearances in MHSAA girls lacrosse history. Country Day, meanwhile, will be returning to the Finals for the first time since 2005. EGR won the lone meeting between the teams, 15-14.
Below is a glance at all four teams playing at Rockford High School. Statistics are through Regional Finals. Rankings are based on the Michigan Power Rating formula used to seed other MHSAA sports. The Division 1 Final is set for 2 p.m., with Division 2 following at 4:30. Tickets cost $11 and are good for both games, and may be purchased online only at GoFan.
Record/ranking: 15-5, No. 6
League finish: Tied for first in Kensington Lakes Activities Association West
Coach: Ryan Skomial, first season (15-5)
Championship history: Division 1 champion 2011, runner-up four times.
Best wins: 14-7 over No. 4 Bloomfield Hills in Semifinal, 19-10 (Regional Semifinal) and 20-8 over No. 10 Northville, 12-11 over No. 3 Hartland, 20-5 over No. 5 Birmingham United, 19-16 over Division 2 No. 3 Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central.
Players to watch: Amanda Granader, sr. A; Gabriella Mainhardt, sr. M; Kaia Malachino, jr. M/D; Abigail Burchfield, sr. M; Ella Boose, sr. M. (Statistics not submitted.)
Outlook: Brighton will be playing in its fourth-straight Division 1 championship game with a number of experienced standouts leading the way. Granader made the all-state first team last season, Mainhardt made the second, and Boose, Burchfield and Malachino all earned honorable mentions in 2021. The Bulldogs have won seven of their last eight games with the only losses this season to Northern/Eastern twice, No. 2 Rockford by a goal, Division 2 top-ranked East Grand Rapids and Division 2 No. 2 Detroit Country Day. Brighton has given up single-digit goals in three of four postseason games.
GRAND RAPIDS FOREST HILLS NORTHERN/EASTERN
Record/ranking: 17-1, No. 1
League finish: First in Ottawa-Kent Conference Tier 1
Coach: Joe Curcuru, second season (32-7)
Championship history: Has not appeared in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 13-2 over No. 3 Hartland in Semifinal, 7-6 (Regional Final), 9-6 and 12-10 over No. 2 Rockford, 16-4 (Regional Semifinal) and 14-1 over No. 9 Haslett, 15-7 and 11-7 over No. 6 Brighton, 11-9 over Division 2 No. 1 East Grand Rapids, 13-6 over Division 2 No. 2 Detroit Country Day, 13-10 and 12-8 over Division 2 No. 3 Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central.
Players to watch: Alayna Davis, jr. A (89 goals, 36 assists); Tayler Sypien, sr. M (14 goals, 5 assists); Sommer Grieser, jr. G (5.33 goals-against average); Lexi Slywka, jr. A (31 goals, 26 assists); Daniella Washburn, sr. D (2 goals).
Outlook: In just its second season as a program, Northern/Eastern will play in its first championship game after formerly forming a cooperative with Forest Hills Central as well. FHNE avenged a Regional loss to Rockford last season with three wins this spring over the eight-time reigning Division 1 champion. The BirdDogs’ only loss came in their second game, to East Grand Rapids, which FHNE avenged late in the regular season. Davis, Washburn and Greiser made the all-state first team last year, and Slywka and Sypien made the second. Senior Carly Wittlinger (42 goals, 8 assists) and sophomore Mia Dye (30/14) also add significant scoring punch.
DETROIT COUNTRY DAY
Record/ranking: 16-2, No. 2
League finish: Does not play in a conference.
Coach: Emma Kuehl, fourth season (48-5)
Championship history: Division 2 runner-up 2005.
Best wins: 18-12 over No. 5 Farmington Hills Mercy in Semifinal, 20-10 (Regional Semifinal) and 18-4 over No. 10 Bloomfield Hills Marian, 15-10 (Regional Quarterfinal) and 19-7 over No. 7 Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood, 19-16 over Division 1 No. 6 Brighton, 21-3 over Division 1 No. 9 Haslett, 24 -8 over Division 1 No. 10 Northville, 21-6 over Division 1 No. 5 Birmingham United.
Players to watch: Hadley Keating, soph. A (70 goals, 16 assists); Olivia Winowich, fr. M (48 goals, 10 assists); Emma Arico, soph. M (45 goals, 22 assists); Ainsley Shilling, sr. M (35 goals, 19 assists); Ella Thompson, sr. M (47 goals, 14 assists).
Outlook: The Yellowjackets have returned to Finals weekend for the first time since the first season of MHSAA sponsorship of girls lacrosse. And this could be just the start of a run, with eight freshmen and sophomores among the 12 starters. Their only losses were to top-ranked teams – East Grand Rapids and Division 1 Forest Hills Northern/Eastern – and they’ve given up more than 10 goals only three times this season, in those losses and the Quarterfinal win over Mercy. Thompson and Arico made the all-state second team last season, and Keating and Shilling earned honorable mentions.
EAST GRAND RAPIDS
Record/ranking: 19-2, No. 1
League finish: Tied for second in O-K Tier 1
Coach: Meggan Loyd, first season (19-2)
Championship history: Seven Division 2 championships (most recent 2021), runner-up in 2017.
Best wins: 22-8 (Semifinal) and 17-3 over No. 9 DeWitt, 12-11 (Regional Final), 24-17 and 21-17 over No. 3 Forest Hills Central, 17-7 (Regional Semifinal) and 22-8 over No. 6 Spring Lake, 23-13 (Regional Quarterfinal), 23-18 and 16-5 over No. 8 Grand Rapids Catholic Central, 15-14 over No. 2 Detroit Country Day, 15-11 over Division 1 No. 1 Forest Hills Northern/Eastern, 15-11 over Division 1 No. 6 Brighton, 22-9 over Division 1 No. 3 Hartland, 12-11 over Division 1 No. 2 Rockford, 14-4 over Division 1 No. 10 Northville.
Players to watch: Lucy Cavanaugh, sr. A (29 goals, 53 assists); Lizzie Lundeen, sr. M (58 goals, 8 assists); Caroline Potteiger, sr. G (.459 save %); Vivian LaMange, soph. A (42 goals, 38 assists); Eliana LaMange, sr. M (45 goals, 20 assists).
Outlook: The reigning Division 2 champion also won in 2019 and five straight titles from 2012-16, and lost this season only in its first meeting with Rockford (by two) and second with FHNE (also by two goals). Eight seniors fill the starting lineup. Cavanaugh, Lundeen and Potteiger are returning all-state first teamers, midfielder Eleanor Vander Molen was a second-team selection last season and Eliana LaMange and Vivian LaMange earned honorable mentions in 2021. Vander Molen (13 goals), sophomore Olivia Shaw (18), senior Mary Mehney (13) and senior Ella Gjorgjievski (12) have further bolstered the team’s total of 368 goals (17.5 per game) this spring.
PHOTO East Grand Rapids' Eliana LaMange (24) sends a shot during last season's Division 2 championship game.
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:
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.)