Okemos boys lacrosse coach Shawn Grady has joked that he gave so many pep talks March 24, he pushed into his material for the Chieftains’ end-of-season Senior Night.
He needed every word in what stands today as the longest lacrosse game in MHSAA's short history of the sport.
Okemos played nearly seven overtimes before edging host Saline 9-8. Extra periods are four minutes long, meaning the teams played a little more than three halves – or 25 minutes and 25 seconds on top of the game’s regulation 48 minutes.
“I just said, let’s make sure we don’t do anything stupid on defense. We don’t want any penalties. That’s the big thing,” Grady remembered Friday of his six between-overtime talks. “I also told them, we don’t need anything outstanding. Don’t do anything that’s not you. It’s an old cliché, but play within yourself. You don’t have to be an all-star.”
Lacrosse has been an MHSAA sport only since 2005, and the record book is in its earliest stages of development. The seven-overtime game is the lone entry for such a contest.
The Chieftains (1-2) led the entire game until Saline took its first advantage, 8-7, a little more than four minutes into the fourth period. Okemos tied it up soon after. And the score stayed 8-8 until Peter Nichols dodged a defender and scored a little more than a minute into the seventh overtime.
“(My players) went nuts. They all stormed the field. In the rule book for lacrosse, it’s called ‘sudden victory,’ which I think is pretty cool,” Grady said. “That in itself shows how positive it is.
“While I felt great for us, at the end of it I was feeling for (Saline).”
Teams also get one timeout during an overtime, and both coaches made sure to use his. Grady said if one was called while his team was on the defensive, he’d try to put the six freshest defenders into the game – and vice versa if a timeout was called when Okemos was on the attack.
The Chieftains had four shots hit goal posts during the overtimes – and Saline goalkeeper Austin Burd made a number of tough stops to keep the game going.
“We don’t even go to overtime is Austin Burd doesn’t stand on his head,” Saline coach Matt Ceo told the Saline Reporter. “Austin responded the whole day. He was our MVP today; there’s no doubt about it.”
Saline is 2-3 overall, but 2-1 since the marathon effort.
This wasn’t the first time extra time has come into play between these teams. Okemos also outlasted Saline, in just one overtime, in 2010.
The seven-overtime win was the 100th career victory for Grady, who has led the Chieftains program for 10 seasons.
Click to check out the MHSAA boys lacrosse record book.
PHOTO courtesy of Saline boys lacrosse program.Saline (in white) and Okemos players battle for the ball during the March 24 game.