Brother Rice cruises to 12th straight lacrosse final

Bruce Mason
The Detroit News

Grosse Pointe Woods — At one point during the postseason, Brother Rice coach Ajay Chawla said his players were feeling pressure as the 11-time defending state champions.

There was barely a worry Wednesday night.

Chawla’s lacrosse factory that descends from Birmingham scored seven times in the opening period en route to a 17-4 victory over U-D Jesuit in the Division 1 semifinals at Grosse Pointe South High.

Senior Morgan Macko scored seven goals and junior Jack Kelly added three.

Brother Rice advanced to face Detroit Catholic Central, a 13-5 winner over Detroit Country Day, at 4:30 p.m. Saturday in the Division 1 championship at Parker Middle in Howell.

“We talked about having a little bit of a statement game after our letdown (last) Friday night,” said Brother Rice third-year coach Ajay Chawla, referring to a 9-6 victory over Clarkston in the regional final.

“We came out with some fire (in the semifinals).”

Especially Macko, whose left-handed snipe opened and closed the first-period onslaught, as Brother Rice (20-2) showed the dynamic effects behind its No. 23 national ranking by the USA Today Super 25.

Macko, who signed a national letter-of-intent with NCAA Division I Bellarmine (Kentucky), controlled the offense from behind the net, using his vision to find teammates and open creases in the Jesuit defense.

“When we get up early like that, teams tend to roll over pretty quickly,” said Macko, who scored five goals in last year’s state championship. “We really wanted to bring it to them early and often.”

Junior Nick Dudley and senior Riley North scored twice in the first half for Brother Rice, which elicited the 12-goal mercy rule (running clock) with 5 minutes 20 seconds remaining in the second quarter.

Senior Michael Baccanari scored twice for Jesuit, which reached the Division 1 semifinals with victories over Rockford and Hartland.

In a previous matchup, Brother Rice downed Jesuit 13-6. Wednesday never was close.

Brother Rice senior starting goalkeeper Ross Reason suffered an injury several weeks ago, but coach Chawla expressed no concern with the skill set of junior backup Teddy Lievois. He was barely tested as Brother Rice scored four goals in the opening 8:03 and cruised.

“We were clicking on all cylinders,” said Chawla, whose team is ranked No. 2 in the Midwest Top 10 by laxmagazine.com. “We’re looking forward to being in that state championship again.”

Detroit Catholic Central 13, Detroit Country Day 5: Rocco Mularoni and Peter Thompson both recorded hat tricks as Catholic Central (17-4) advanced to the Division I state title game. Cooper Belanger and Owen Sappington each scored a goal for Country Day (14-8).

Bruce Mason is a freelance writer.

SEMIFINALS

Division 1

Brother Rice 17, U-D Jesuit 4

Detroit Catholic Central 13, Country Day 5

Division 2

Forest Hills Central 17, Cranbrook-Kingswood 7

East Grand Rapids 16, Okemos 15 (2OT)

SATURDAY'S FINALS

At Parker Middle School, Howell

Division 2: Forest Hills Central vs. East Grand Rapids, 2 p.m.

Division 1: Brother Rice vs. Detroit Catholic Central, 4:30 p.m.