Rockford Adds 6th to Title Streak

June 9, 2018

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

GRAND LEDGE – As the rain lifted Saturday afternoon, a third consecutive group of Rockford seniors capped their high school girls lacrosse careers with a fourth straight Division 1 championship.

And then some.

These Rams, led by seniors Brooklyn Neumen and Mekenzie Vander Molen, made their last game perhaps a bit more memorable, setting the MHSAA Finals record for goals in a 25-5 win over Brighton at Grand Ledge High School.

Sophomore Sydney Zimmerman netted her team’s 21st goal with 16:47 to play, that score breaking the record of 20 goals by Okemos in its 2010 Division 2 championship win.

And it was just another accomplishment for a Rockford program that has won six straight Division 1 titles and hasn’t lost to a Michigan opponent since 2016.

“I played with all these girls all though middle school and elementary school; it’s like family, and that’s why I think it’s extra special,” Neumen said. “Everyone on this team, there’s not one person I would say that I wouldn’t love and that I would forget, and I’d love to play with them again if I could. I think it’s kinda sad now that it’s over, but it was a good time.”

The Rams finished 20-2, their only losses to Loyola Academy and New Trier, both of Illinois. Rockford closed with 18 straight victories.

Vander Molen had seven goals and two assists and Neumen scored six and set up two Saturday to both make the list for most goals scored by one player in a Final – Vander Molen’s goals tied for second most. Zimmerman and junior Karrington Vander Molen both added four goals.

Almost more impressive was the defense. Senior Bella VanBuren’s goal 3:45 into the game kept the Bulldogs down just 3-2 – but Rockford gave up only one more score during the first half, and at one point between the end of the first and beginning of the second held Brighton scoreless for more than 17 minutes.

The Rams extended the lead to 10 to start a running clock on a Neumen goal with 12:01 to play in the first half.

“I feel like everyone on our team has that mindset where we want to win, and we want to win by a lot,” Mekenzie Vander Molen said. “We don’t want to have a close game. We just want to go out there as fast as we can, just so we can get more people goals and just have a fun time.”

She and Neumen are two of nine seniors total who played their final high school game – Vander Molen will continue next season at Ohio State University, and Neumen will play next for North Carolina. Another senior, Maggie Hammer, has been among the team’s leading scorers the last two seasons and added two more goals in this finale.

“Some of these kids have been on four championship teams, some on three. Some it was their first, and each and every one of (our championship teams) is special in their own right,” said Rockford coach Mike Emery, whose record improved to 200-43-6 over 11 seasons with the win. “They all have their own culture and their own characteristics, and we start early trying to develop that, trying to get the best out of these kids.”

He pointed to sense of family as one of this team’s special characteristics, and also to its depth throughout the lineup. “We’re going to be back here next year; at least, that’s our plan,” he added. “We’re losing two All-Americans … (but) our plan is to be back here next year because we’ve got some great talent, and we’ll move them around and we’ll find a way.”

Brighton (14-8) intends to be the opponent waiting. The Bulldogs graduate 11 players, but also steered to this championship game despite finishing the regular-season on a 4-4 string and with a coaching change that saw assistant Ashton Peters promoted with three games to go before the playoffs. She led the team to a 6-2 record over the last month.

Peters was on the 2010 Brighton team that fell to Rockford in the Division 1 Final, and also on the 2011 team that won the Division 1 title with an overtime victory over Ann Arbor Pioneer.

“The girls rallied around this coaching staff and just were pumped. They knew we could get here, and that was in our gameplan the entire season,” Peters said. “They have become so disciplined and listen so well now, and so that’s what got us here today. There’s not doubt in my mind that my girls deserved to be here.

“Yes, it was a hard game. Rockford has an incredible program. … (But) what we did to get here paid off, because we got here. Once you get here once, you come back again because you have the drive to get here. And so we’re going to come back, and we’re going to win.”

Click for the full scoring summary.

VIDEO: Mekenzie Vander Molen scores her final high school goal.

PHOTOS: (Top) Rockford’s Brooklyn Neumen works to get past a Brighton defender during Saturday’s Division 1 Final. (Middle) Mekenzie Vander Molen controls the ball for the Rams.

Performance of the Week: Grand Rapids Catholic Central's Claire Marosi

June 13, 2024

Claire Marosi headshotClaire Marosi ♦ Grand Rapids Catholic Central
Senior ♦ Lacrosse

The Cougars’ standout midfielder capped one of the highest-scoring seasons in MHSAA history with two goals and two assists as Grand Rapids Catholic Central edged Detroit Country Day in the Division 2 Final to win its first championship since 2011 and finish this season 23-0.

Marosi finished with 154 goals and 34 assists this spring; her goals rank third all-time for a single season and her 188 points were fourth-most on that list. She’ll continue her career at Northwestern, which finished NCAA Division I runner-up this year after winning the title in 2023. She's interested in studying communications. Marosi also played basketball and ran cross country as a senior, and previously ran track as well.

@mhsaasports 🥍POW: Claire Marosi #lacrosse #GRCC #letsgo #champion #goal #part1 #highschoolsports #tiktalk #interview #performanceoftheweek #mistudentaid #fyp #MHSAA ♬ original sound - MHSAA

@mhsaasports 🥍POW: Claire Marosi #tiktalk #questiontime #part2 #bridgerton #yoga #hearthands #emoji #car #rolos #performanceoftheweek #mistudentaid #fyp #MHSAA ♬ original sound - MHSAA

Follow the MHSAA on TikTok.

MHSAA.com's "Performance of the Week" features are powered by MI Student Aid, a division within the Department of Lifelong Education, Advancement, and Potential (MiLEAP). MI Student Aid encourages students to pursue postsecondary education by providing access to student financial resources and information. MI Student Aid administers the state’s 529 college savings programs (MET/MESP), as well as scholarship and grant programs that help make college Accessible, Affordable and Attainable for you. Connect with MI Student Aid at www.michigan.gov/mistudentaid and find more information on Facebook and Twitter @mistudentaid.

Past 2023-24 Honorees

June 6: Emmry Ross, Onsted track & field - Report
May 31:
Isaac Sturgess, Flint Powers Catholic baseball - Report
May 30:
Abby Russell, Allen Park track & field - Report 
May 23:
Isabel Thelen, St. Johns tennis - Report
May 16:
Ally Katinas, Novi lacrosse - Report
May 9:
Peter Roehl, Rochester Adams golf - Report
May 2:
Lilah Smith, Richland Gull Lake soccer - Report
April 25:
Mason Mayne, Lawton track & field - Report
April 18:
Alli Wright, Jenison softball - Report
April 11:
Chloe Wishart, Trenton soccer - Report
March 28:
Jenna Maki, Ishpeming basketball - Report
March 22:
Jaremiah Palmer, Niles Brandywine basketball - Report
March 15:
Leah Hodge, North Farmington gymnastics - Report
March 8:
Darius Marines, Detroit Catholic Central wrestling - Report
March 1:
Rylee Smith, Zeeland West bowling - Report
Feb. 22:
Caleb Lewandowski, Traverse City West skiing - Report
Feb. 15:
Jadin Mix, Onaway basketball - Report
Feb. 8:
Onalee Wallis, Cadillac skiing - Report
Feb. 1:
Abbey DeGraw, Rochester Hills Stoney Creek competitive cheer - Report
Jan. 25:
Ewan Todd, Riverview swimming - Report
Jan. 18:
Ashley Weller, Jackson Northwest basketball - Report
Jan. 11:
Michael Baldwin, Saginaw Arthur Hill wrestling - Report
Dec. 15:
Jena Fijolek, Fenton bowling - Report
Dec. 8:
Sophia Wagner, Escanaba gymnastics - Report
Dec. 1:
Isaiah Marshall, Southfield Arts & Technology football - Report
Nov. 24:
Sarah Bradley, Clarkston Everest Collegiate volleyball - Report
Nov. 17:
Kalieb Osborne, Waterford Mott football - Report
Nov. 10:
Tekalegn Vlasma, Muskegon Western Michigan Christian soccer - Report
Nov. 3:
Colton Kinnie, Birmingham Seaholm football - Report
Oct. 27:
Lauren Timpf, Macomb Lutheran North golf - Report
Oct. 20:
Alena Li, Okemos golf - Report
Oct. 13:
Seth Norder, Grand Haven cross country - Report
Oct. 5:
Paige Anderson, Muskegon Reeths-Puffer golf - Report
Sept. 29:
MacKenzie Bisballe, Lake City volleyball - Report
Sept. 22:
Jhace Massey, Gladwin football - Report
Sept. 15:
Kaylee Draper, Sturgis swimming - Report
Sept. 8:
Owen Jackson, Traverse City St. Francis tennis - Report
Sept. 1:
Rachel Forsyth, Ann Arbor Pioneer cross country - Report

(Photo by Jamie McNinch/RunMichigan.com.)