Brighton — Five years, five Division 1 girls state lacrosse titles for Rockford as it took down Birmingham United 17-7 on Saturday evening.
A solid all-around performance led to a fifth straight state championship win for Rockford.
“We have a pretty potent attack, but we have a pretty amazing defense, too,” Rockford coach Mike Emery said. “It’s really our midfield line dominating on possessions. When we’ve got the ball, we really can control a game.
Despite losing eight seniors from last year’s title-winning squad, Rockford didn’t miss a beat.
“Pretty amazing group,” Emery said. “We moved it around, we played pretty unselfishly today. You try to shut one down, there’s someone else who’s going to be there.”
The two teams were riding different highs heading into the finals. Rockford had mercied three of its four playoff opponents and Birmingham was coming off two straight overtime victories.
Rockford’s playoff dominance continued through the first 15 minutes as it jumped to an 11-2 lead.. Rockford led 12-2 at halftime.
The second half was more evenly matched. Each team had five goals apiece.
The final 25 minutes could be a sign of things to come, Birmingham head coach Jennifer Dunbar said.
“We came out a little flat,” Dunbar said. “We did what we could. We have a really young team. We’ll be ready for the future. We have some great young players.”
Meryl Feys didn’t let the scoreboard shake her confidence as she scored four of Birmingham’s seven goals.
Maggie Hammer led the way with six goals, Brooklyn Neumen four and Karrington VanderMolen three for Rockford.
“I knew that we all had to go out strong,” Hammer said. “It feels really good (to be a state champ again). They all feel really good.”
Although it’s not a new feeling for Emery, winning championships, he says, never go out of style.
“It’s amazing,” Emery said of his sixth title in eight years. “It never gets old. We set it as a goal each year and the kids really work hard toward it. We’re going to celebrate this and enjoy it and then we’re going to start working and building for the next one.”
Connor Muldowney is a freelance writer.