Preview: Finals Loaded with Champions

June 8, 2018

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

A pair of past contenders are back and will attempt to take down the reigning champions at Saturday’s MHSAA Girls Lacrosse Finals at Grand Ledge High School.

Brighton and Okemos have raised title trophies as well in the past, but will be seeking their first since 2011 and 2010, respectively. The Bulldogs will face five-time reigning champion Rockford in Division 1, while Okemos will look to avenge an earlier loss for the second game in a row in taking on Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood in Division 2.

The Division 1 Final will be played at 2 p.m., followed by Division 2 at 4:30. Both will be broadcast on, available with subscription, with audio available on Click for more information, including all tournament results.

Below is a look at all four contenders, with player statistics through Semifinals.

Division 1

Record/rank: 13-7, No. 6 at end of regular season
League finish: First in Kensington Lakes Activities Association
Coach: Ashton Peters, first season (6-1) 
Championship history: Division 1 champion 2011, runner-up 2010.
Best wins: 16-14 over No. 7 Bloomfield Hills in Semifinal, 14-9 (Regional Final) and 18-8 over No. 8 Northville, 11-9 over No. 4 Ann Arbor Pioneer in Regional Semifinal, 16-15 over No. 3 Hartland.
Players to watch: Cameron Stilson, sr. G; Mackenzie Kelbert, sr. A; Jessica Daniels, sr. M; Riley Browne, jr. D; Allison Falk, sr. M, Hannah Kelley, sr. A. (Statistics not submitted.)
Outlook: The Bulldogs have won eight of their last 10 games to reach their first Final since 2011, while weathering a late coaching change that saw Peters promoted after serving as an assistant. Kelley made the all-state first team last season and had five goals in the Semifinal win over Bloomfield Hills. Stilson also is a returning all-state first teamer, while Kelbert made the second team and Daniels, Browne and Falk earned honorable mentions in 2017. Brighton has held opponents to single-digit goals in 12 of 20 games.

Record/rank: 18-2, No. 1 at end of regular season
League finish: First in Ottawa-Kent Conference Tier 1
Coach: Mike Emery, 11th season (198-43-6) 
Championship history: Division 1 champions 2010, 2013-17.
Best wins: 25-8 over No. 3 Hartland in Semifinal, 13-6 (Regional Semifinal), 18-3 and 14-10 over No. 2 Grand Rapids Forest Hills United; 15-10 over Division 2 No. 1 East Grand Rapids, 18-8 over Division 2 No. 2 Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood, 12-1 and 21-6 over Division 2 No. 6 Grand Rapids Catholic Central.
Players to watch: Brooklyn Neumen, sr. M (70 goals, 28 assists); MeKenzie Vander Molen, sr. A/M (47 goals, 26 assists); Karrington Vander Molen, jr. A/M (28 goals, 4 assists), Sydney Zimmerman, soph. A/M (38 goals, 31 assists); Bailey Banfield, soph. D (1 goal, 1 assist); Isabelle Holmes, jr. A (35 goals, 18 assists). 
Outlook: For the second straight season, Rockford’s only losses have come against out-of-state opponents – and a number of this season’s standouts have been part of the sustained success that has the Rams playing for a sixth straight Division 1 title. Neumen and both Vander Molens made the all-state first team last season, while Banfield made the second and Holmes and Zimmerman earned honorable mentions. Senior Maggie Hammer (24 goals, 16 assists) also is back as one of the team’s scoring threats, and freshman Katie Rodriguez (26 goals, 18 assists) looks to be one of the next group of stars.

Division 2

Record/rank: 16-1-1, No. 2 at end of regular season
League finish: First in Detroit Catholic League Division 1
Coach: Evan Foulsham, first season (16-1-1) 
Championship history: Division 2 champion 2017, runner-up 2015 and 2016.
Best wins: 22-4 (Semifinal) and 22-9 over No. 9 Farmington Hills Mercy, 18-8 (Regional Semifinal), 14-10 and 14-11 over No. 4 Bloomfield Hills Marian; 14-10 over No. 3 Okemos, 22-9 over No. 10 Farmington, 11-3 and 21-14 over No. 6 Grand Rapids Catholic Central, 18-17 over Division 1 No. 2 Grand Rapids Forest Hills United.
Players to watch: Isabelle Scane, sr. M (96 goals, 22 assists); Brigitte Ballard, sr. G; Sophia Milia, sr. A (57 goals, 51 assists); Delaney Langdon, sr. M (21 goals, 8 assists); Angelina Wiater, sr. M (17 goals, 11 assists); Jessica Geiger, jr. M (51 goals, 15 assists).
Outlook: Cranbrook broke through for its first championship in this sport in 2017 and will make its fourth straight appearance on the final day of the season. The only loss this time was to Division 1 reigning champion Rockford, and the tie came in the first of two meetings with Forest Hills United. Scane is the state’s all-time leading goal scorer with 456, nearly 200 more than the next player on that list, and she’s surrounded by much the same talented cast as a year ago. She and Wiater made the all-state first team last season, while Milia made the second team and Ballard, Langdon and senior defender Courtney Paulus earned honorable mentions. Geiger is over 40 goals for the second straight year.

Record/rank: 19-3, No. 3 at end of regular season
League finish: First in Capital Area Activities Conference
Coach: Brandon Schwind, third season (54-14-1) 
Championship history: Division 2 champion 2009-10, runner-up 2007, 2012 and 2014.
Best wins: 10-9 over No. 1 East Grand Rapids in Semifinal, 9-7 over No. 7 Flint Powers Catholic in Regional opener, 23-13 over No. 5 Mattawan, 14-6 over Division 1 No. 4 Ann Arbor Pioneer, 20-5 over Division 1 No. 6 Brighton, 12-1 and 15-9 over Division 1 No. 7 Bloomfield Hills.
Players to watch: Melaina Grewal, sr. M (69 goals, 20 assists); Emily Renfrew, sr. M (51 goals, 20 assists); Alyssa Karber, sr. A (39 goals, 16 assists); Grace Bielby, sr. M (35 goals, 26 assists); Lola Gonzalez, soph. A (41 goals, 23 assists); Mallory Keenoy, sr. G.
Outlook: After three straight Semifinals losses, the Chiefs have broken through to return to the championship game. Like Cranbrook, Okemos has dominated with mostly the same crew over the last few seasons; Grewal and Keenoy made the all-state first team last season, while Beilby made the second and Karber, Renfrew and defenders Lauren Foltz and Allison Schloss earned honorable mentions. Junior Grace Richardson (35 goals, 23 assists) provides more scoring for a team that went over 20 goals in eight games and lost only to East Grand Rapids early, Cranbrook and Forest Hills United.

PHOTO: Rockford’s Brooklyn Neumen leads a rush during last season’s Division 1 championship game win.

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.