Howell — For the first time since lacrosse became a state athletic association-sponsored sport, Birmingham Brother Rice is not the boys Division 1 state champion.
Brother Rice (13-8) had its crown snatched by arch-rival Detroit Catholic Central, 11-10, on Saturday at the state championships held at Parker Middle School, breaking Brother Rice’s streak of 13-straight titles.
Scoring the winning goal with about three minutes left for Catholic Central (19-2) was senior midfielder Ethan Pattinson.
“I came around from the backside, beat my man topside, and bounced it right between the goalie’s legs,” Pattinson said. “It was phenomenal.”
Catholic Central and Brother Rice have now met in the last five title games, but it was the first time Catholic Central, or anyone else, was able to break Brother Rice’s streak.
“It’s great to see the fruition of hard work,” Catholic Central coach Dave Wilson said. “People always go through the perfect storm of, who do you want to play? We don’t care who we play, we just wanted to win a state championship, but it does feel good to beat (Brother) Rice.
Wilson’s in his 13th year as Catholic Central head coach and has suffered plenty of heartbreak at the hand of Brother Rice.
“It gets a lot of people off my ass,” Wilson said with a smile. “People are going to talk. It’s all for the school and for the kids — they’re the ones that did it. Everything else is immaterial.”
Junior attack Joseph Kamish was Catholic Central’s best player with five goals but was in disbelief of his team’s accomplishment.
“There are a lot of kids around school that jokingly mention how the lacrosse team has never won a state championship and how we can never beat Brother Rice,” Kamish said. “Beating them is unreal. I don’t know how to describe it. If I considered all the teams before us that made it here, for this state championship, I’d have to give them credit. They showed us that through hard work you can close the gap.”
The result wasn’t exactly shocking. After beating Brother Rice in April for the first time since 1994, Catholic Central beat Brother Rice again in May for the Catholic League championship, but Brother Rice coach Ajay Chawla didn’t feel like the pressure was off his team in the finals, even though Brother Rice wasn’t favored.
“Maybe the monkey’s off our back now,” Chawla said. “A streak’s not going to last forever, right? The amount of pressure our guys played with for the past 14 years, having to repeat every time, is a ton of pressure. I don’t think there was less pressure. In fact, I think there was more pressure. It’s a shame because every team’s different, and this team worked as hard as every other one. They just didn’t end up on top.”
Rubbing salt in the wound of Brother Rice fans was how it went down.
Brother Rice scored the first two goals of the fourth quarter to take a three-goal lead, but then the Brother Rice defense unraveled, leading to four-straight Catholic Central goals to end the game.
“Our motto is ‘never give up,’” Pattinson said. “Down 7-10, that’s what we’ll remember the rest of our lives. We pushed through and kept going. We knew we still had the game in our hands.”
Brother Rice had trouble solving Catholic Central's defense in the first quarter, going scoreless.
Once Brother Rice broke through, it did in a big way, outscoring Catholic Central 5-2 in the second quarter, including a four-goal run, to even the score at five-all going into halftime.
Spearheading the breakthrough was the insertion of long stick midfielder Jack Crosby on faceoffs. Crosby’s faceoff wins led to more possessions for Brother Rice, and its fans roared toward the end of the second quarter when sophomore midfielder DJ Dixon got the equalizer. The goal was a result of solid ball movement — Brother Rice appeared to have solved Catholic Central's defense going into halftime.
Catholic Central’s defense stabilized in the second half, giving its offense just enough of a chance to get the job done in the fourth quarter.
Dixon and Pat O’Hara scored three goals each, sophomore midfielder Jordan Hyde had two goals, and Justin Glod and Mike Cosgrove each scored once for Brother Rice.
Along with goal scorers Kamish and Pattinson, sophomore attack Ryan Sullivan had two goals and senior attack Peter Thompson one for Catholic Central.
Next year Catholic Central will have the target firmly on its back for maybe the first time ever, but Kamish, who will be back, won’t forget this one for a long time.
“Every year it was getting closer, and this year, I knew it was ours,” Kamish said. “It feels great to finally bring one home.”
Division 2 championships
East Grand Rapids 11, Forest Hills Central 10 (2OT): Eric Solberg scored six goals, Chris Owens two, and Colin Stecco, Jack DelVecchio and Drew Poortenga each had one for East (19-3). Tate Hallock had four goals, Luke Majick and Patrick English two each, and Bryce Clay and Tobey Hendricks each scored one for Central (18-2).
Eric Coughlin is a freelance writer