Ada Forest Hills Eastern lacrosse

Boys Lacrosse

Preview: Rematches Bring Ultimate Opportunity This Time

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

June 11, 2021

Saturday’s MHSAA Boys Lacrosse Finals will feature a pair of rematches from this regular season – with the teams looking to avenge also seeking their first championships.

In Division 1, Hartland takes on Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice after losing to the Warriors 17-8 earlier this spring. In Division 2, Ada Forest Hills Eastern will attempt to avenge a 7-6 overtime loss to East Grand Rapids.

Below is a glance at all four teams playing at Howell’s Parker Middle School. Statistics are through Regional Finals unless noted. The Division 1 Final is set for 2 p.m., with Division 2 following at 5. Tickets cost $9.40 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.

Division 1

BLOOMFIELD HILLS BROTHER RICE
Record/rank: 17-2, No. 1
League finish: First in Detroit Catholic League Central
Coach: Ajay Chawla, eighth season (124-22)
Championship history: Division 1 champion 2005-17, 2019.
Best wins: 9-1 over No. 5 Lake Orion in Semifinal, 17-8 over No. 2 Hartland, 8-1 over No. 6 Detroit Catholic Central, 11-5 and 16-4 over Division 2 No. 5 Orchard Lake St. Mary’s, 10-6 over Division 2 No. 1 Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central, 13-8 over Division 2 No. 3 Detroit Country Day.
Players to watch: Connor Borkowicz, jr. M (29 goals, 10 assists); Luke Dudley, sr. A (41 goals, 10 assists); Paulie Fortino, jr. M (21 goals, 9 assists); Christian McNulty, soph. A (37 goals, 7 assists).
Outlook: The Warriors have won all but one Division 1 championship in MHSAA history and are undefeated once again against in-state competition – their lone losses are to Cleveland St. Ignatius and Columbus Upper Arlington from Ohio, and those defeats came by only a combined six goals. No in-state opponent has scored more than eight goals against Rice, which is giving up just 4.2 goals per game overall. Sophomore Joe Schlackman is another key offensive catalyst coming off the bench with 25 goals and six assists this spring. Total, 12 players have scored at least 10 goals.

HARTLAND
Record/rank: 22-1, No. 2
League finish: First in Kensington Lakes Activities Association West & overall
Coach: Nick Levanti, first season (22-1) 
Championship history: Has never appeared in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 18-7 over No. 6 Detroit Catholic Central in Semifinal, 19-5 over No. 7 Saline in Regional Final, 14-10 (Regional Semifinal) and 16-10 over No. 3 Brighton, 14-9 over Division 2 No. 2 East Grand Rapids, 16-9 over Division 2 No. 1 Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central, 18-9 over Division 2 No. 3 Detroit Country Day.
Players to watch: Bo Lockwood, jr. A (94 goals, 136 assists); Charlie Anderson, sr. A (63 goals, 20 assists); Noah Luck, sr. A (96 goals, 33 assists); Ryan Krause, jr. M (33 goals, 17 assists). (Stats through Semifinal.)
Outlook: Hartland is making its first championship game appearance, and its only defeat this season was April 10 to Brother Rice 18-7. Lockwood made the all-state first team as a freshman in 2019, and his goal and points totals this season rank among the highest in MHSAA history. Freshman mid Drew Lockwood (32 goals, 17 assists) and sophomore mid Joey Mattord (28/18) also are significant offensive contributors. The team has two more returning all-staters from 2019: Senior midfielder Brandon Plemmons made the first team and has 10 goals and three assists this spring but played in only three games. Senior goalie Bryce Avenall earned an honorable mention two years ago and has split time in net, with sophomore Evan Phillips leading the goalie group in saves and ground balls.

Division 2

ADA FOREST HILLS EASTERN
Record/rank: 15-5, No. 4
League finish: Third in Ottawa-Kent Conference Tier 1
Coach: Zach Gusell, second season (31-12)
Championship history: Division 2 runner-up 2019.
Best wins: 11-9 over No. 1 Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central in Semifinal, 18-5 over No. 5 Orchard Lake St. Mary’s in Regional Final, 14-6 over Division 1 No. 4 Rockford, 20-2 over Division 1 No. 10 Traverse City Central.
Players to watch: John Morgan, sr. A (49 goals, 19 assists); Sam Bowen, sr. A (54 goals, 39 assists); Ethan Johns, sr. M (42 goals, 17 assists); Kevin Sprague, sr. M (49 goals, 24 assists).
Outlook: Things have fallen into place nicely for Forest Hills Eastern as it is riding an eight-game winning streak and avenged an early 17-6 loss to Forest Hills Central to return to the championship game. Although the players to watch above are all offensive standouts, the defense includes returning all-state seniors Nate Sypien and Ethan Coleman. The Hawks are giving up only five goals per game during the postseason. Coleman made the all-state first team as a sophomore in 2019, while Morgan, Johns and Sypien made the second team. Nick Mesler had added 29 goals and nine assists coming into this week; he, Sprague and Johns are all expected to provide a boost off the bench this weekend.  

EAST GRAND RAPIDS
Record/rank: 19-2, No. 2
League finish: Second in O-K Tier 1
Coach: Adam Brant, first season (4-0)
Championship history: Division 2 champion 2007-09, 2017-18; runner-up 2005-06, 2011 and 2016.
Best wins: 9-8 (OT) over No. 3 Detroit Country Day in Semifinal, 15-7 over No. 9 Grand Rapids Catholic Central in Regional Semifinal, 6-3 over No. 5 Orchard Lake St. Mary’s, 7-6 (OT) over No. 4 Ada Forest Hills Eastern, 8-5 over No. 6 Okemos, 14-7 over No. 7 Caledonia, 11-3 over Division 1 No. 4 Rockford, 17-1 over Division 1 No. 10 Traverse City Central, 7-6 (OT) over Division 1 No. 6 Detroit Catholic Central, 9-8 over Division 1 No. 3 Brighton.
Players to watch: Sam Tholl, jr. A (37 goals, 25 assists); Ted Campbell, sr. A (56 goals, 11 assists); Drew Zykowski, soph. A (40 goals, 43 assists); Jack Higgins, soph. M (41 goals, 16 assists).
Outlook: East Grand Rapids played all but two of the top 10 in Division 2 MPR heading into the postseason, and its only losses were to top-ranked Forest Hills Central (in overtime by a goal) and Division 1 finalist Hartland. Brant has coached in the program since 2011 and on varsity since 2016 before taking over as interim head coach during this season. Sophomore mid Kase VanderMolen had added 24 goals and eight assists off the bench heading into this week, and junior goalie Adam Hall was giving up only 4.1 goals per game with five shutouts.

PHOTO: Forest Hills Eastern’s Nate Sypien moves the ball ahead during the 2019 Division 2 Final; he’s among returning standouts hoping to lead his team to its first championship this weekend.