State’s top lacrosse programs meet to determine state champions
June 9, 2014
TROY — Oakland County boys lacrosse dominance was on display June 7 at Troy Athens.
The Division 1 and Division 2 state championship games featured four teams from the county, prompting the Michigan High School Athletic Association to move the games from Rockford High to Athens.
In D-1, it was a familiar sight as Birmingham Brother Rice met its old rival Novi Detroit Catholic Central. In D-2, the rivalry continued with Beverly Hills Detroit Country Day taking on defending state champion Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood.
Here’s a look at how each game played out. For more photos, visit www.candgnews.com.
Though Rice had beaten the Shamrocks by six and four goals in their two meetings earlier in the season, the Warriors left little doubt of their intentions in the final.
The Warriors opened the game with four goals in less than four minutes into the first quarter, ending the frame with a 4-1 advantage.
In the second, Rice blew the game open with a 12-2 advantage and headed into halftime 16-3.
“When you get CC in a state championship game, that’s a huge rivalry on any day, let alone a Saturday in June,” Rice coach Ajay Chawla said. “(We) were pumped, (we) came out, had some great looks early and kind of deflated CC early.”
The momentum continued in the third, leading to a 21-3 lead at one point before finishing with the victory 23-7.
The win marked the biggest margin of victory in a lacrosse state final.
“These guys had a great season and ended it on the right note,” Chawla said. “It was a big-time statement game.”
This was Chawla’s first season leading the Warriors, replacing longtime coach Rob Ambrose. The Warriors finished 19-4 overall, with one of the defeats coming to Country Day, its first loss to an in-state team since 2002.
The Warriors later avenged the loss in a rematch.
“The seniors really wanted this. They wanted to prove that it wasn’t just a show owned by the previous coaches. Rob did a great job building the program here, but it was a huge weight off the team’s shoulders. For me, it’s a relief.”
This is Rice’s 10th straight state championship.
“That’s a testament to the teams that came before us — the players, the coaches, everyone — and we just wanted to keep that streak alive,” Rice senior Jason Alessi said. “As a team, that’s all you want to do — become champions — and we did.”
Alessi finished with four goals and three assists. His sophomore teammate, Morgan Macko, led all scorers with six goals, which ties a state final record that Alessi set last season.
When Country Day’s Michael Cappelletti took over the program this season, becoming the team’s third head coach in four years, he brought a simple message to his squad.
“They’ve been through a lot and we told them that ‘we trust you, we love you, and we know you’re going to do the right things. Follow what we give you, but at the end of the day, we believe in you,’ and they did it. It was great,” the coach said.
The Yellowjackets heeded their coach’s advice, leading them to their third state championship since 2005.
Country Day beat Cranbrook 12-8.
Cappelletti said his team was forced to play slower than it wanted, but being patient was key.
“It was like Novocain. Just give it some time and we’ll find a good matchup. It’ll work. We’re not a slow-down team by any means. They took that away from us,” Cappelletti said. “It ended up being a halfcourt game for the most part, and I’m glad we came out on top. I didn’t know if we could win a game like that.”
Country Day never trailed in the game and led 3-2 after the first. In the second, the Yellowjackets used a four-goal run to take over.
Cranbrook closed it to 10-8 with 11:48 remaining, but goals by junior Nick Martin and senior Matt Stebbins kept the Cranes at bay.
“Hats off to those kids. (Country Day) played a fantastic game,” Cranbrook coach Mat Wilson said. “That group of kids on the DCD team, they’ve been through three different coaches, and to be able to band together this year and show the rest of the state that there are some very good teams other than Brother Rice … if I was going to lose to anybody, it’s those guys.”
Country Day finishes the season 17-6 overall; Cranbrook falls to 12-9.
The Yellowjackets had six players on the roster that scored, including three from junior Emilio Sosa.
Senior Matthew Giampetroni led Cranbrook with five scores.