Preview: Kent vs Oakland, Part II

June 10, 2016

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

For the second straight season, the best of Oakland County will try to wrest away the MHSAA girls lacrosse championships from the best of Kent County when Division 1 and 2 Finals are played Saturday at Brighton High School.

Rockford has won the last three Division 1 titles and East Grand Rapids has won the last four in Division 2. But the challengers have plenty of prestige as well; Birmingham United is tied with Rockford for most titles in Division 1 history with four, and Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood faced the Pioneers in the Division 2 championship game only a year ago.

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 Regional Finals.

Division 1

Record/rank: 14-6, No. 3 at end of regular season
League finish: First in Oakland Activities Association
Coach: Jen Dunbar, 14th season (record N/A) 
Championship history: Four Division 1 titles (most recent 2012).
Best wins: 13-9 and 19-8 (Regional Final) over No. 5 Bloomfield Hills, 15-11 and 17-9 (Regional Semifinal) over No. 7 Grosse Pointe South, 7-6 over Division 2 No. 4 Okemos, 10-6 over Division 2 No. 3 Grand Rapids Catholic Central.
Players to watch: Anna Stachler, sr. A (72 goals); Danielle Augier, jr. A/M (55 goals).
Outlook: Birmingham is back in an MHSAA Final for the first time since 2012, with only two of its losses this season to Michigan teams and two defeats by only a goal apiece. The lineup includes eight seniors, and Stachler had seven more goals in Wednesday’s Semifinal win to give her 79 this season; that total is tied for 16th most for one season in MHSAA history.

Record/rank: 19-2, No. 1 at end of regular season
League finish: First in Ottawa-Kent Conference Tier 1
Coach: Mike Emery, ninth season (160-39-6) 
Championship history: Four Division 1 titles (most recent 2015)
Best wins: 13-8, 15-9 and 9-8 (Regional Final) over No. 2 Grand Rapids Forest Hills United; 9-3 over Division 2 No. 1 East Grand Rapids, 19-10 over Division 2 No. 2 Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood.
Players to watch: Alexandra Vandermolen, sr. M (45 goals, 34 assists); MeKenzie Vandermolen, soph. M (37 goals, 24 assists); Grace Gunneson, sr. A (43 goals, 30 assists).
Outlook: The Rams have won three straight Division 1 championships, and standouts Alexandra Vandermolen and Grace Gunneson are two of only six seniors. The only losses this spring were by a goal to East Grand Rapids (since avenged) and by two to Illinois powerhouse Loyola Academy. Rockford also owns a pair of wins over Division 2 No. 3 Grand Rapids Catholic Central (15-2 and 16-5) and another over Division 2 No. 4 Okemos (13-5).

Division 2

Record/rank: 17-6, No. 2 at end of regular season
League finish: First in Detroit Catholic League Division 1
Coach: Greg Courter, second season (35-10) 
Championship history: Division 2 runner-up 2015.
Best wins: 11-5 and 9-6 over No. 3 Grand Rapids Catholic Central, 15-10 over Division 1 No. 3 Birmingham United, 17-9 over Division No. 4 Bloomfield Hills Marian, 21-11 over Division 1 No. 5 Bloomfield Hills.
Players to watch: Grace Giampetroni, sr. M (52 goals, 52 assists); Isabelle Scane, soph. M (115 goals, 26 assists); Brigitte Ballard, soph. G (8.31 goals-against average). 
Outlook: After making their first championship game appearance just a year ago, the Cranes are back. Scane had six more goals in the Semifinal win over Farmington Hills Mercy, and her 121 overall rank second in MHSAA history for one season. Cranbrook Kingswood has outscored its four postseason opponents by an incredible combined score of 88-20, and that group of opponents included No. 7 Bloomfield Hills Academy of the Sacred Heart and No. 10 Detroit Country Day.

Record/rank: 16-4, No. 1 at end of regular season
League finish: Second in Ottawa-Kent Conference Tier 1
Coach: Rich Axtell, seventh season (136-21) 
Championship history: Division 2 champions 2015, 2014, 2013 and 2012.
Best wins: 14-7 over No. 4 Okemos in the Semifinal, 9-8 and 15-12 over No. 2 Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood, 8-7, 12-7 and 11-9 (Regional Final) over No. 3 Grand Rapids Catholic Central; 11-10 over Division 1 No. 1 Rockford, 14-2 over Division 1 No. 2 Grand Rapids Forest Hills United.
Players to watch: Lindsay Duca, jr. A (22 goals, 66 assists); Auden Elliott, jr. M (59 goals, 10 assists); Audrey Whiteside, fr. M (55 goals, 10 assists)
Outlook: So much for rebuilding. The four-time reigning champions graduated a strong group after last season’s title but have stormed back with help from a freshman phenom in Whiteside. Duca had six more assists in the Semifinal, and 72 would put her fifth all-time for a single season. The Pioneers’ only in-state losses were in rematches to Division 1 top-ranked Rockford and Forest Hills United; they also have two wins over Division 2 No. 6 Caledonia and one apiece over Division 1 No. 3 Birmingham United and No. 5. Bloomfield Hills.

PHOTO: Cranbrook Kingswood goalie Brigitte Ballard gathers a shot while a pair of East Grand Rapids players circle the net during last season's Division 2 Final. 

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.