By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
There appears to be a pattern forming here.
For the second straight season, Rockford and East Grand Rapids from the west and Birmingham United and Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood from the east will converge to decide the MHSAA girls lacrosse championships, this season at Brighton High School.
The Division 2 Final will be played at 2 p.m., followed by Division 1 at 4:30. Both will be broadcast on MHSAA.tv, available with subscription, with audio available on MHSAANetwork.com. Click for more information, including all tournament results.
Below is a look at all four contenders, with player statistics through Regional Finals.
Record/rank: 12-9, No. 5 at end of regular season
League finish: Second in Oakland Activities Association
Coach: Jen Dunbar, 15th season (record N/A)
Championship history: Four Division 1 titles (most recent 2012), runner-up 2016.
Best wins: 11-9 (OT) over No. 3 Hartland in a Semifinal, 15-14 (OT) over No. 4 Bloomfield Hills in a Regional Final, 15-8 over No. 8 Ann Arbor Pioneer, 14-13 over No. 7 Brighton, 14-13 over Division 2 No. 5 Bloomfield Hills Marian.
Player to watch: Danielle Augier, sr. A/M; Grace Fischer, sr. D; Grace Murray, sr. A (Statistics not submitted).
Outlook: The reigning Division 1 runner-up is looking to reverse last season’s 12-9 championship game loss to Rockford. Birmingham opened this season with three wins and then six straight losses; it’s currently on a 9-3 run and avenged one of those recent defeats by beating Bloomfield Hills to win the Regional. Augier was a star last season as well.
Record/rank: 19-2, No. 1 at end of regular season
League finish: First in Ottawa-Kent Conference Tier 1
Coach: Mike Emery, 10th season (180-41-6)
Championship history: Division 1 champions 2010, 2013-16.
Best wins: 22-4 over No. 6 Northville in a Semifinal, 12-8 (Regional Final), 12-6 and 15-3 over No. 2 Grand Rapids Forest Hills United, 26-1 over No. 8 Ann Arbor Pioneer, 17-2 and 25-6 over Division 2 No. 9 Grand Rapids Christian, 18-1 and 22-3 over Division 2 No. 6 Caledonia, 20-6 over Division 2 No. 1 Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood, 18-8 and 17-7 over Division 2 No. 2 Grand Rapids Catholic Central, 16-6 and 20-7 over Division 2 No. 3 East Grand Rapids.
Players to watch: Brooklyn Neumen, jr. M (64 goals, 43 assists); MeKenzie VanderMolen, jr. M (47 goals, 29 assists); Karrington VanderMolen, soph. M (74 goals, 12 assists), Sydney Zimmerman, fr. A/M (53 goals, 27 assists).
Outlook: The Rams have won four straight Division 1 championships and continue to add big-time scorers to a dominating roster. In addition to those mentioned above, sophomore attack Isabelle Holmes had 24 goals and 42 assists and junior attack/mid Margaret Hammer had 28 goals and 15 assists entering this week. The two losses came against teams from out of state, the first by only a goal.
BLOOMFIELD HILLS CRANBROOK KINGSWOOD
Record/rank: 22-5, No. 1 at end of regular season
League finish: First in Detroit Catholic League Division 1
Coach: Greg Courter, third season (57-16)
Championship history: Division 2 runner-up 2015 and 2016.
Best wins: 21-14 and 19-7 (Pre-Regional) over No. 10 Bloomfield Hills Academy of the Sacred Heart, 21-14, 19-9 and 19-7 (Regional Final) over No. 5 Bloomfield Hills Marian; 16-9, 11-5 and 14-8 (Semifinal) over Okemos; 23-9 over Division 1 No. 5 Birmingham United, 11-5 and 15-14 over Division 1 No. 2 Grand Rapids Forest Hills United, 18-2 over Division 1 No. 8 Ann Arbor Pioneer, 19-5 over Division 1 No. 4 Bloomfield Hills.
Players to watch: Isabelle Scane, jr. M (137 goals, 35 assists); Brigitte Ballard, jr. G (8.24 goals-against average); Sophia Milia, jr. A (80 goals, 55 assists); Delaney Langdon, jr. M (55 goals, 25 assists).
Outlook: This will be the Cranes’ third straight MHSAA Final, and they’ve played all the contenders to prepare for this point – including taking an early 8-6 loss to East Grand Rapids. The only other in-state defeat came to Division 1 top-ranked Rockford. Scane added three more goals in the Semifinal, and her 140 this season are the second most in MHSAA history. Adding firepower are sophomore attack Jessica Geiger (45 goals, 13 assists), junior attack Olive Stevens (28 goals, 19 assists) and junior defense Georgia Hinnant (28 goals, 11 assists).
EAST GRAND RAPIDS
Record/rank: 19-6, No. 3 at end of regular season
League finish: Third in Ottawa-Kent Conference Tier 1
Coach: Rich Axtell, eighth season (156-27)
Championship history: Division 2 champions 2012-16.
Best wins: 19-17 over No. 2 Grand Rapids Catholic Central in the Regional Final, 8-6 over No. 1 Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood, 18-3 and 13-10 over No. 6 Caledonia, 17-6 and 17-4 over No. 9 Grand Rapids Christian, 20-6 over Division 1 No. 8 Ann Arbor Pioneer, 14-3 over Division 1 No. 5 Birmingham United, 12-6 and 10-9 over Division 1 No. 2 Grand Rapids Forest Hills United, 11-9 over Division 1 No. 3 Hartland, 18-11 over Division 1 No. 7 Brighton.
Players to watch: Lindsay Duca, sr. A (15 goals, 52 assists); Mary Schumar, soph. A (71 goals, 30 assists); Rebecca Scobell, sr. G (7.50 goals-against average); Audrey Whiteside, soph. M (87 goals, 16 assists).
Outlook: The Pioneers made their way back to the final day of the season in part by avenging a regular-season loss to Grand Rapids Catholic Central in the Regional Final. The only other in-state losses were twice to Division 1 top-ranked Rockford. Duca was a star last season as well and distributes to a number of talented scorers; sophomore mid Olivia Brown adds 33 goals and senior mid Emily Roth 28 as 10 players total had at least 10 goals entering the week.
PHOTO: East Grand Rapids’ Madison Micho (12) and Cranbrook Kingswood’s Isabelle Scane battle for possession during last season’s Division 2 Final.
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.)