Brighton — It took two overtimes to decide the Division 2 girls lacrosse state championship as Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood dethroned the five-time reigning champ East Grand Rapids, 17-16.
Angelina Wiater was one of many heroes for Cranbrook, scoring the winning goal with 49 seconds left in the second overtime. That came after an unlikely comeback.
“We just really wanted to beat this team,” Wiater said. “The demeanor in the locker room has been different (this year). We were just all happy together with each other.”
The game was evenly matched through the first 10 minutes, but East Grand Rapids went on a 10-3 run to take a commanding 11-5 halftime lead.
East Grand Rapids scored two of the first three goals in the second half to extend its lead to seven. A state title blowout looked to be in order.
However, Cranbrook stormed back, notching six straight goals to pull within one, 13-12, with 9:23 left. Sophia Milia's goal sent with two minutes remaining sent it to overtime.
Cranbrook coach Greg Courter wasn't surprised by the comeback.
“I saw them tighten up a bit, to be honest with you, in the second half,” Courter said. “We actually got looser as we got closer. Once we tied it up, it turned into the best high school lacrosse game that I’ve ever witnessed. That’s in 20 years of being around this game.”
Fitting as Courter admitted this would be his last game as the school’s head coach.
It was defense in overtime that took center stage. Most notably, Cranbrook goalie Brigitte Ballard stood out in overtime.
After allowing 11 goals in the first half, she only yielded five in the second and both overtimes combined.
“I had a rough start,” Ballard said. “My coach did a very good job of pepping us up at halftime and realizing that it’s all heart. I just gave it my all since it’s his last season. (Being a state champion) is one of the best feelings I’ve ever had in my life.”
East Grand Rapids head coach Rich Axtell was content with how his team fought.
“It was a great game today,” Axtell said. “We had the early edge. Cranbrook could have rolled over and they did not. We didn’t have an answer for (Isabella Scane) but most teams don’t.”
Scane and Sophia Milia each scored six goals for Cranbrook.
Mary Schumer scored five goals and Kate O’Connell four for East Grand Rapids.
Cranbrook-Kingswood had finished state runner-up for two years since Courter had taken over. The school appeared headed for a fourth, down by seven in the second half.
Courter kept a level head, which carried over to his team.
“Fortunately we’ve had to come from behind against some good teams this year,” Courter said. “The kids knew we could come back.
Connor Muldowney is a freelance writer.