By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
ROCKFORD – Erika Neumen was a freshman the last time Rockford won an MHSAA girls lacrosse championship. She scored three goals in that 2010 Finals win over Brighton – but said she doesn’t remember much about it.
She’ll never forget Saturday.
Neumen scored this Division 1 Final’s first goal 24 seconds in and added three more and an assist as the Rams claimed their second girls lacrosse championship and she finished her high school career with a 16-7 win over Bloomfield Hills United.
“This moment, when we won the state championship; we’ve been talking about it all season, and now it’s become a reality,” Neumen said. “I think that’s what is going to be most memorable. From day one, we’ve been focusing on this one goal.”
Rockford (21-5), No. 1 in the computer rankings heading into the postseason, had fallen by a goal in the Semifinals in each of the last two years. Beating Bloomfield Hills, ranked No. 4 at the end of the regular season, gave the Rams wins over all of the other four teams ranked among the top five in Division 1 at the tournament's start.
Coach Mike Emery has led his team to a 103-28-5 record and six Semifinals appearances during his six seasons. As he and an assistant coach worked the scorer’s table at last spring’s Final, they said “there was no way we were doing that again.”
He and his staff designed this season’s training to point toward peaking during the playoffs. He took the team on a preseason retreat, and then took his seniors to lunch this week. The juniors already are asking where they’ll be going to lunch before the 2014 Finals.
“The kids responded all year,” Emery said. “This is the hardest-working team I’ve ever had. It didn’t matter what we asked them to do; they did it. Bloomfield played a great game, but my kids were a little faster, played a little harder and came through for a victory.”
Five more Rams joined Neumen in scoring Saturday. Junior Kyleigh Egnatuk scored five goals and had two assists, and junior Kendall Short had two goals and three assists among the team’s highest statistical contributors.
Bloomfield Hills senior Margaret Metzger – who will play next season at University of Michigan – found the net four times in her final high school game to finish with a season total of 90 goals, which unofficially places her 11th in the MHSAA record book for scores in a season.
“I’ve said it before: If she’s not an All-American, I don’t know what an All-American is. I’ll put Margaret up against anyone in this state,” BlackHawks coach Andy Reed said. “She’s a real leader. She played hurt today, got hurt in the first half, and it didn’t even seem to slow her down.”
The BlackHawks made history despite the loss – the Finals appearance was the program’s first and came after the team fell in a pre-Regional game in 2012. Bloomfield Hills finished 19-6 after eliminating four ranked teams on the way to Rockford, including No. 3 Ann Arbor Pioneer.
Emery noticed Rockford’s history sitting in the stands, as a number of former players cheered on their high school team Saturday.
The 2010 championship game was played at Troy Athens. That “upbeat” atmosphere of winning on the Rams' home turf is something else Neumen said she’ll surely remember as she goes on to play next season at Hofstra University.
As one of only three seniors, she very well could be cheering on these teammates as they play for a repeat title in 2014.
“I’m really glad this group of girls was able to stick together and win this together,” Neumen said. “We had better chemistry, and we were able to stick together better. This year you could just tell the girls really wanted it more.
“We’ve been playing pretty good the last couple of games, and it was fun to see the girls really want it.”
PHOTOS: (Top) Rockford junior Molly Simmet (12) charges forward as Bloomfield Hills’ Paige Tornow (3) and Maria D’Angelo close on the ball. (Middle) Bloomfield Hills junior Christina Arens prepares to launch a shot that ended up in the back of Rockford’s net.
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.)