Rockford Finishes Unforgettable Run
June 8, 2013
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.
Preview: Epic 2022 Finals Set to Play Out Again in Title-Deciding Rematches
By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor
June 8, 2023
Surprises will be hard to come by Saturday at Rockford High School, as both MHSAA Girls Lacrosse Finals are repeats of last season’s championship games and rematches from earlier this spring.
In Division 1, Brighton defeated Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern/Eastern 12-11 in overtime to close last season, but FHNE opened this one with an 11-6 win over the Bulldogs on March 23 before the teams tied 6-6 in an April 29 rematch.
In Division 2, East Grand Rapids also clinched last year’s title with a 12-11 overtime win, over Detroit Country Day. The Yellowjackets dominated this season’s matchup, however, 18-5 on May 12.
Below is a glance at all four teams playing at Rockford. Statistics are through Regional Finals except for Brighton’s, which include the Semifinal . Rankings are based on the Michigan Power Rating formula used to seed at the Regional level. The Division 2 Final is set for 2 p.m., with Division 1 following at 4:30. Tickets cost $11 and are good for both games, and may be purchased online only at GoFan.
Both games will be broadcast and available with subscription from MHSAA.tv, with free audio broadcasts on the MHSAA Network.
Record/ranking: 16-8-1, No. 6
League finish: Tied for second in Kensington Lakes Activities Association West
Coach: Ashton Peters, fifth season (57-23-3)
Championship history: Division 1 champion 2022 and 2011, four runner-up finishes.
Best wins: 13-10 (Semifinal) and 7-6 over No. 2 Bloomfield Hills, 12-11 over No. 4 Hartland, 12-10 over No. 10 White Lake Lakeland.
Players to watch: Cecelia Mainhardt, jr. M (74 goals, 16 assists, 34 ground balls); Ella Toth, soph. A (46 goals, 25 assists, 33 ground balls); Gabrielle Buckenberger, jr. G (8.1 goals-against average, 166 saves); Ashleigh Toth, sr. D (4 goals, 1 assist, 33 ground balls).
Outlook: Brighton will be playing in its fifth-straight Division 1 Final but for the first time with a chance to repeat. The Bulldogs rebounded from a 2-4 start this spring and have won eight straight with their only loss over the last month to Division 2 finalist East Grand Rapids, 13-10. Ashleigh Toth, Buckenberger and Mainhardt have been named to the all-state first team, while Ella Toth has made the second and junior attack Georgia Gill (82 goals, 20 assists) and sophomore defender Keelin Ehman (37 ground balls) made the third team. Mainhardt, Ashleigh Toth and Kaia Malachino are the team’s lone senior starters, and Malachino has 18 goals and 10 assists over just seven games.
GRAND RAPIDS FOREST HILLS NORTHERN/EASTERN
Record/ranking: 20-2-1, No. 1
League finish: First in Ottawa-Kent Conference Tier 1
Coach: Joe Curcuru, third season (51-9-1)
Championship history: Division 1 runner-up 2023.
Best wins: 10-2 (Semifinal) and 12-11 over No. 4 Hartland, 14-11 (Regional Final) and 10-8 over No. 3 Rockford, 10-4 over No. 2 Bloomfield Hills, 11-6 over No. 6 Brighton, 18-11 and 16-7 over Division 2 No. 6 East Grand Rapids, 12-2 over Division 2 No. 4 Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood, 11-5 over Division 2 No. 1 Detroit Country Day, 13-12 over Division 2 No. 2 Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central.
Players to watch: Alayna Davis, sr. A (72 goals, 70 assists); Sommer-Jo Grieser, sr. G (6.45 goals-against average, 132 saves); Lila Fus, soph. D (2 goals, 5 assists); Mia Dye, jr. A (68 goals, 21 assists).
Outlook: After coming so close to a championship last season in its first as a program, Northern/Eastern has steamrolled through this spring with its only losses to Division 2 finalist Detroit Country Day – after defeating the Yellowjackets six days earlier – and rival Forest Hills Central, which the BirdDogs avenged three weeks later. Davis, Grieser, Fus and Dye all have been named to the all-state first team, with junior midfielder Isabella Bainbridge (49 goals/19 assists) making the second team and senior attack Alexandra Slywka (37/22) making the third. Davis has more than 160 goals combined over just the last two seasons.
DETROIT COUNTRY DAY
Record/ranking: 17-1, No. 1
League finish: Does not play in a conference.
Coach: Emma Kuehl, fifth season (65-7)
Championship history: Division 2 runner-up 2022 and 2005.
Best wins: 21-4 (Regional Final) and 7-5 over No. 4 Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood, 18-5 over No. 6 East Grand Rapids, 15-6 over Division 1 No. 1 Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern/Eastern, 11-7 and 16-7 over Division 1 No. 6 Brighton.
Players to watch: Hadley Keating, jr. A (88 goals, 18 assists); Brooke Winowich, soph. M (4 goals); Emma Arico, jr. M (41 goals, 22 assists, 118 draw controls); Sadie Rifkin, jr. M (15 goals, 3 assists).
Outlook: The Yellowjackets’ only loss was to Division 1 top-ranked Forest Hills Northern/Eastern, which they avenged less than a week later. Otherwise, only Cranbrook and Brighton got closer than nine goals. And most impressive of all: Country Day has only one senior. Keating has a combined 160 goals over the last two seasons and has been named to the all-state first team with Brooke Winowich, Arico and Rifkin. Sophomore attack Georgia Pavlou (47 goals/53 assists) and freshman goalie Campbell Linder (3.9 goals-against average/5 shutouts) have made the second team, sophomore mid Olivia Winowich (42 goals/8 assists) and junior defender Alessia Sessa the third and sophomore attack Mary Pavlou (44/10) earned honorable mention.
EAST GRAND RAPIDS
Record/ranking: 16-9, No. 6
League finish: Tied for fourth in O-K Tier 1
Coach: Meggan Loyd, second season (35-11)
Championship history: Eight Division 2 championships (most recent 2022), runner-up in 2017.
Best wins: 15-7 over No. 2 Haslett/Williamston in Semifinal, 9-6 and 10-8 over Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood, 12-6 over No. 7 Grand Rapids Northview in Regional Quarterfinal, 18-11 over No. 8 Caledonia in Regional Semifinal, 13-10 over Division 1 No. 6 Brighton.
Players to watch: Vivian LaMange, jr. A (94 goals, 41 assists); Olivia Shaw, jr. A (61 goals, 12 assists); MC Millman, soph. M (21 goals, 8 assists); Elizabeth Grin, sr. D (29 ground balls).
Outlook: East Grand Rapids has won three straight Division 2 championships (not counting the canceled 2020 season) and put together a six-game winning streak to earn an opportunity to win a fourth title in a row. The Pioneers have held their opponents to single-digit goals in five of those six recent wins. All but one loss this season came to opponents that finished the regular season among the top three in MPR in either Division 1 or 2. LaMange has been selected for the all-state first team, Shaw for the second, Millman and Grin to the third and senior attack Brecken Winkel (21 goals/9 assists) received an honorable mention.
PHOTO Detroit Country Day’s Olivia Winowich (3) defends as East Grand Rapids’ Vivian LaMange makes a run toward the goal during last season’s Division 2 Final.