Girls lacrosse: 'Never gets old': Rockford racks up seventh straight Division 1 title
Novi — Rockford continued its Division 1 girls lacrosse domination on Saturday afternoon, downing Brighton 21-6 in the state title game.
The championship is Rockford's seventh in a row and eighth in program history, all under head coach Mike Emery.
"It's amazing every year and it never gets old," Emery said. "There will be a whole new crew coming in next year and our goal is going to be to get right back here."
The final result was never in doubt with Rockford (13-5) dominating from the opening whistle and pushing the lead to 10, with a running clock, early in the second half.
Sophomore Katie Rodriguez helped set the tone for Rockford early, scoring two goals to extend the lead to 4-1, never looking back. She led Rockford with four goals.
"It's a lot of hard work paid off throughout the whole season," Rodriguez said. "To be here at the end and look back at where we've come and how much we've grown closer and skill-wise, it's really great."
Karrington VanderMolen, Sydney Zimmerman and Isabelle Holmes each added three goals for Rockford.
Brighton (16-8-1) and Rockford met a year ago in the Division 1 title game, but it yielded similar results with the latter winning 25-5. Though this year's game wasn't exactly a nail-biter, Brighton coach Ashton Peters saw progress.
"We knew it was going to be a tough game," Peters said. "Rockford's a dynasty, everybody knows that. But we fought hard and we did better than last year. We wanted to make it back to states. Our goal was to make it back to states, win or lose, and we did that."
Rockford knew Brighton was hoping for a rematch and the intensity of the newfound rivalry was increasing, but that didn't change the team's mindset.
Emery admitted that his girls were loose all week leading up to the finals and even on the bus ride to Novi. It's what sets his team apart from the rest of the field.
"We had a raucous bus ride down with dancing and music flowing," Emery said. "They were not tense today at all. They were about as loose as they've been all season."
Could we see the same two teams in the Division 1 finals next year? Peters says you can count on it.
"Yeah, we lost, (Rockford's) a great team," Peters said. "But my girls left everything on the field, they played together, they played with pride and they did a really great job. We're a different program than we used to be and we're going to come back next year."
Sophie Mondro led Brighton with four goals.
The winning culture at Rockford trickles down to its underclassmen and that's what Emery and his players admit keeps it alive.
"It's awesome, it just makes me want to keep going and get two more titles," Rodriguez said.
East Grand Rapids 22, Bloomfield Hills Marian 7: Bloomfield Hills Marian's quest for its first girls lacrosse title fell short at Novi High School, losing to East Grand Rapids.
The final score was indicative of how the entire game played out as there was a running clock for the final five minutes of the first half due to East Grand Rapids' 10-goal lead.
Rich Axtell has now won six state championships as head coach of East Grand Rapids (24-2) and his first since 2016. His team beat two-time defending champion Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood 24-6 in the semifinals.
The loss ended Marian's (18-2) 11-game winning streak, dating back to May 1 while East Grand Rapids won its 21st straight game.
Connor Muldowney is a freelance writer.