Brighton — Bloomfield Hills Marian got one step closer to its first girls lacrosse state title on Wednesday evening, beating Okemos 15-13 in a Division 2 semifinal at Brighton High School.
Just like its quarterfinal win over Farmington, the win didn't come easy for Marian (18-1).
"The girls playing like a team (was the difference)," Marian coach Sherry Elliott said. "They do an awesome job not relying on just one person but using everybody on the field."
The teams traded scores for a majority of the game before Marian built a late three-goal lead which Okemos couldn't overcome.
Defense took center stage late in the first half, but both teams put on a scoring barrage, accounting for a combined five goals in the first 2:30 of the second half. Right when it looked like Okemos (17-2-2) had momentum, Marian would respond.
"They were a good team, we were ready for them," Okemos coach Chloe Zdybel said. "But they came out, they played hard, Marian did, and we just didn't stay up with them."
A goal by Faith Giltner with just over 14 minutes left in the second half gave Marian an 11-10 lead, which eventually stretched to two.
While Giltner scored the momentum-building goal, Coco Chinonis had one of her best games of the season with the pressure at its highest, scoring seven goals. She also broke a 12-12 tie with less than right minutes remaining, adding the clinching goal for Marian less than a minute later.
"I think I played pretty well," Chinonis said. "My team found me a lot open in the middle so I got a lot on goal."
Lauren Cosgrove added two for Marian.
A second-half surge was the difference as Marian, which was moved back to Division 2 two years ago, will head to the state championship game for the first time since 2015 and third time in school history.
It's also Elliott's first trip as head coach of Marian.
"It means a lot," Elliott said. "It means a ton, I haven't been there yet (with Marian). I took over three years ago and that was our goal. In three years we'll get past Cranbrook and they've done it."
The loss didn't put a damper on Okemos' season despite expectations being high year in and year out.
"We were expecting to get this far, it's kind of the standard for us so I'm just glad that we still (made it this far)," Zdybel said. "I think we were just tired, we looked tired."
Campbell Foltz, Lola Gonzalez and Zoe Ziegler each scored three goals to lead Okemos.
Marian will take on East Grand Rapids, which dismantled two-time defending Division 2 champion Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood on Saturday afternoon.
"It's just so exciting," Chinonis said about making the state title game. "We haven't been there in I don't even know how many years so just to be able to do it with this team is exciting."
Rockford 20, Birmingham Unified 6
Brighton 12, Hartland 10
Final: Saturday, 4:30 p.m., at Novi High School
East Grand Rapids 24, Cranbrook Kingswood 6
Bloomfield Hills Marian 15, Okemos 13
Final: Saturday, 2 p.m., at Novi High School