Miners Net Deciding Point in D1 Clash

October 2, 2015

By Keith Shelton
Special for Second Half

NEGAUNEE — Negaunee girls tennis coach Kyle Saari knows that come tournament time, it takes that extra bit of effort to put a team over the top.

Negaunee and Escanaba came into Thursday's MHSAA Division 1 Upper Peninsula Finals as virtual equals. Both went undefeated during the season and played to a 4-4 draw against each other. But it was the Miners who dug deep and found that next level, enabling them to repeat as U.P. champions.  

Negaunee edged Escanaba 18-17, with Menominee in third place with seven points.  

"U.P.'s are always a difficult day. Pretty much every year, you need your girls or boys to do something they haven't done during the season in order to be successful today," Saari said. "When you win by one, that's exactly what it came down to for us today." 

The match that put the Miners over the top was No. 3 doubles, where Alexis and Skylar Taavola overcame Escanaba's Katie Ross and Karly Mayville 7-5, 6-4.  

"They lost a heartbreaker at the conference meet the week before, and I told them there was something bigger out there for them. They believed it, and were able to get themselves a title, and that pushed us over for a team title," Saari said.  

Negaunee played Escanaba in a dual Sept. 21, but Alexis and Skylar were moved to No. 2 doubles for that meet, so Thursday was their first look at Escanaba's No. 3 doubles flight.  

"It was kind of hard to get used to them, having never played them before," said Skylar. "We won the first set, and thought we could do it again," added Alexis. "It was just trying to keep calm and play smart. It was close, but it's not always fun to win a blowout. This was fun." 

The Miners also picked up a big win at No. 1 singles, where Angela Ring bounced back to beat Katy Hicks of Kingsford 1-6, 6-2, 6-3.  

"Katy is a great player, and Angie has a ton of respect for her, but at the same time, Angie realizes that if she plays her game, she can be as good as anybody," Saari said. "She's a real level-headed player." 

Hicks looked strong early on with a powerful serve that generated a handful of aces. Her net front ability was also evident, as Hicks frequently made Ring pay for soft lobs near the net.  

"Katy definitely finishes them when you set them up at the service line," Ring said. "I wasn't on early on, but I just started making the game set to my pace instead of hers. I had to continue being consistent."

Ring's twin sister Allison also picked up a victory at No. 2 singles, as she defeated Escanaba's Hannah Beversluis 6-3, 6-2. The title was her first, while Angela won a title at No. 3 her sophomore year and at No. 2 her junior year.  

"Today was the first time I've gone to a three-set match," Angela said. "Allison and I have never both won before." 

Saari said he's enjoyed having the sisters as part of his singles lineup the last few seasons, and praised their quiet leadership.  

"They don't say a lot on the court; they're pretty quiet, stone-faced through the entire match," he said. "It can be tough to get a read on them, but usually when you look at their score cards, they're in the lead, so you kind of just let them be." 

The runner-up Eskymos put six flights in the finals, including all four doubles flights.

The unbeaten No. 1 doubles duo of Emily LaFave and Kayla VanPortfliet never seemed threatened in their final match as they defeated Negaunee's Lauren Anderson and Nicole Violetta 6-0, 6-3.  

"It's bittersweet," said LaFave. "I'm so glad we won and went undefeated, and winning is so much better, but I'm sad that it's over." 

"We never expected this, never," said VanPortfliet. "Kingsford and Negaunee were both great opponents in different ways, and if you get frustrated with them the first time, you have to come back and play them again. It just gets harder each time." 

Taylor Gauthier also completed an undefeated run this season, capping it off with a U.P. title at No. 3 singles. Gauthier defeated Negaunee's Megan Syrjala 6-4, 6-4, ending a long a day for her.  

"I was pretty confident going in, but I was starting to get a little tired, so I was worried," Gauthier said. "It does feel great as a sophomore to get through unbeaten, and the fact that I pulled through being so tired, it feels great." 

Escanaba coach Dennis Lueneberg praised the play of his No. 1 doubles flight from start to finish.  

"In the summer, we didn't know if it would work because Kayla was a singles player," he said. "But we needed something to establish depth. Putting them together, they're friends, and you can see the chemistry click. It's not easy, but I don't think they've even lost a set. They're there every day working at it. 

"I kept telling all the girls to keep working at it," Lueneberg added. "You don't want to have regrets. Maybe some do today, but I thought they played their hearts out. You can only do so much. They'll reflect on it, and learn." 

Escanaba also won at No. 4 doubles. Menominee won the No. 2 doubles and No. 4 singles flights to take third. Gladstone's lone point came at No. 1 singles, when Paige Schwartz played in a semifinal match against Angela Ring. Ring won that match 6-3, 6-0.

Click for full results.

PHOTOS: (Top) Negaunee's Allison Ring defeated Hannah Beversluis of Escanaba in the No. 2 singles final 6-3, 6-2. (Middle) Kingsford's Katy Hicks unleashes her powerful serve at No. 1 singles against Negaunee's Angela Ring. Ring won 1-6, 6-2, 6-3. (Below) Escanaba's Taylor Gauthier at No. 3 singles faces Negaunee's Megan Syrjala. Gauthier won 6-4, 6-4. (Photos by Keith Shelton.) 

Lacrosse Finals Move to U-M Among Headlines as Spring Sports Ramp Up

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor

April 9, 2024

The Girls & Boys Lacrosse Finals will be played at University of Michigan Lacrosse Stadium for the first time, one of the most notable changes for this season as sports ramp up for more than 100,000 athletes anticipated to participate this spring for Michigan High School Athletic Association member schools.

The MHSAA sponsors postseason competition each spring in baseball, girls and boys lacrosse, girls soccer, softball, girls and boys track & field, boys golf (Lower and Upper Peninsula) and girls golf (UP), and girls (LP) and boys (UP) tennis.

The U-M Lacrosse Stadium opened for competition in 2018 and seats 2,000 spectators. The Girls Lacrosse Finals will be played Friday, June 7, with Division 1 at 4 p.m. and Division 2 at 7 p.m. The Boys Lacrosse Finals will be played the following day, June 8, with Division 2 at 11 a.m. and Division 1 at 2 p.m.

Girls lacrosse also has a significant format adjustment this season, as games will be played with four 12-minutes quarters instead of the previous two halves, in part to allow coaches more opportunities to provide direct instruction during a game. Two more rules changes are expected to improve flow of play – players awarded a free position outside of the critical scoring area no longer must come to a stop and settled stance before self-starting, and false start penalties outside the critical scoring area have been eliminated.

Several more rules changes will be noticeable this spring:

In boys lacrosse, a change was made to enhance player safety. Play will stop immediately any time a player’s helmet comes off, and that player may not return until the next dead ball after play continues.

Fair and legal starts are a continued emphasis for track & field, and a rule change will allow for movement before the start of the race as long as a competitor does not leave their mark with a hand or a foot after the “set” command, or make forward motion before the starting device is activated.

A significant rule change in softball alters pitch delivery mechanics. The pitcher may now have both feet off the ground at the same time when releasing the ball as long as both feet remain within the 24-inch width of a pitching plate and the pitcher does not replant the pivot foot before delivering the pitch.

Another change in softball requires that a playbook/playcard be worn on the wrist or kept in a back pocket to reduce distractions. If worn by the pitcher, the equipment must be worn on the non-pitching arm. Similarly in baseball, a wristband with plays or instructions will be permitted but must be a single, solid color, and for pitchers may not contain the colors white or gray or be otherwise distracting. Baseball players must wear this wristband on the wrist or forearm, and pitchers may wear one only on their non-pitching arm.

Also in baseball, a rule change allows for one-way communication devices worn by the catcher to receive instructions from the dugout while on defense, for the purpose of calling pitches. The coach must be inside the dugout/bench area to use the communication device.

Golfers now are required to participate in at least four competitions for the high school team prior to representing that school team in an MHSAA Regional or Final. Those four regular-season competitions may be 9 or 18-hole events.

In tennis, for the first time in Lower Peninsula play, a No. 1 doubles flight from a non-qualifying team will be able to advance from its Regional to Finals competition. To do so, that No. 1 doubles flight must finish first or second at its Regional, and the No. 1 singles player from that team also must have qualified for the Finals individually by finishing first or second in Regional play.

On the soccer pitch, two officiating-related changes will be especially noticeable. Officials now may stop the clock to check on an injured player without that player being required to leave the match – previously that player would have to sub out. Also, categories for fouls have been redefined: careless (which is a foul but does not receive a card), reckless (a foul with a yellow card) and excessive force (foul with red card). 

The 2023-24 Spring campaign culminates with postseason tournaments, as the championship schedule begins with the Upper Peninsula Girls & Boys Golf and Boys Tennis Finals during the week of May 27 and wraps up with Girls Soccer, Baseball and Softball Finals on June 15. Here is a complete list of winter tournament dates:

Districts – May 23-June 1
Regional Semifinals – June 5
Regional Finals, Quarterfinals – June 8
Semifinals – June 13-14
Finals – June 15

LP Boys Regionals – May 28-June 1
UP Girls & Boys Finals – May 29, 30, 31 or June 1
LP Boys Finals – June 7-8

Boys Lacrosse
Pre-Regionals – May 10-15
Regionals – May 16-29
Quarterfinals – May 31 or June 1
Semifinals – June 5
Finals – June 8

Girls Lacrosse
Pre-Regionals – May 16-18, or May 20
Regionals – May 22-June 1
Semifinals – June 5
Finals – June 7

Girls Soccer
Districts – May 22-June 1
Regionals – June 4-8
Semifinals – June 11-12
Finals – June 14-15

Districts – May 23-June 1
Regionals – June 8
Quarterfinals – June 11
Semifinals – June 13-14
Finals – June 15

LP Girls Regionals – May 15-18
UP Boys Finals – May 29, 30, 31 or June 1
LP Girls Finals – May 31-June 1

Track & Field
Regionals – May 16-18
Finals – June 1