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Detroit CC ends Brother Rice's championship streak as Shamrocks defeat the Warriors, 11-10, to win its first D1 title

Lacrosse   | Matt Mowery

Detroit CC ends Brother Rice's championship streak as Shamrocks defeat the Warriors, 11-10, to win its first D1 title

Click above to watch the highlights of the Catholic Central vs. Brother Rice - Division 1 Final

Howell — The king has been dethroned. Long live the new king. 

After winning every Division 1 lacrosse title since the Michigan High School Athletic Association added the sport in 2005, Birmingham Brother Rice is no longer the champion, finally supplanted by a Detroit Catholic Central program that had finished runner-up seven times.

The Shamrocks (19-2) scored the final four goals of Saturday’s Division 1 championship game at Howell’s Parker Middle School, winning 11-10 to claim the title.

“I’ve been on the team four years, and my freshman year, I remember we lost 16-7. My sophomore year, we lost 10-8. Last year, we lost 8-7. We knew we were closing the gap,” said Pete Thompson, whose goal with 6:28 remaining started the final comeback. “Honestly, this team … in previous years, I felt like we were a bunch of individuals that were good, but Brother Rice is such a great team, and such a strong program, you can’t beat them with just a bunch of individuals. This team set their minds to this goal since August, really. We got in the weight room, and coming back from Christmas break, we would be up at 5 a.m., running on the track. We all just knew what it was leading to, and we all wanted this more than anything.”

It was Thompson who led the deliriously happy Shamrocks across the track to the stands to celebrate with the fans after the clock finally ticked down to zero”

Thompson’s teammate, Joey Kamish, was taken aback by the moment. 

 “That was just something else. Pretty amazing. A lot of kids around school, just jokingly — it still kind of gets you — but they always mention how the lacrosse team has never won a state championship, and how we can never manage to beat Brother Rice,” said Kamish, whose fourth and fifth goals tied it up with just under four minutes remaining, and who set up Ethan Pattinson’s game-winner with three minutes to go. “This year, we beat them three times, and we captured the first state championship. So celebrating with the team was a great feeling, but it was kind of like showing them (the fans) we could do this, and we have the ability to accomplish one of the biggest accomplishments we can as a sports team.”

It was a different year for Brother Rice, as Catholic Central defeated the Warriors (13-8) in the regular season, snapping a 28-game losing streak in the rivalry, and ending the Warriors’ dominance in the Catholic League. A 12-5 loss to Division 2 finalist Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central was the first time a Michigan public school beat the Warriors, too. 

As a result, Brother Rice might have come into Saturday’s game as the underdog, but there certainly still was pressure on the Warriors. 

“Do you think Brother Rice came in with less pressure after 16 years? They came in with a lot of pressure. I mean, the amount of pressure our guys played with for the last 16 years … having to repeat every time is a ton of pressure. So I don’t think there was less pressure, I think there was more pressure. And it’s a shame, because every team is different, and these guys worked as hard as every other one, they just didn’t end up on top,” Rice coach Ajay Chawla said, counting the three (non-sanctioned MHSAA) state titles Rice claims before it became an MHSAA sport, to go with the 13 titles. 

“It is what it is. They outplayed us in the last five minutes, and they won. I think maybe the monkey’s off our back now. A streak’s not going to last forever, right? These guys worked their butts off all year, and we just didn’t have it when we needed it this year. That’s what happens when you don’t pay a complete game.”

Catholic Central started each half fast, building a quick lead each time. And each time, Brother Rice reeled the Shamrocks back in.

Down 3-0 after one period, and 5-1 less than five minutes into the second, Brother Rice scored the final four goals of the half to go into the break tied at 5-5. 

Catholic Central scored twice to start the second half, going up 7-5, but Brother Rice would score five straight goals — as DJ Dixon and Patrick O’Hara both finished off hat tricks — to take a 10-7 lead with 8:38 left to play.

“They went on their run, and we just always kind of know we just have to weather the storm, and we’ll get one,” Shamrocks coach Dave Wilson said. “We have a very deadly offense, and they just need the ball. Once we could get the ball a little bit, we know it’s going to make its way into the back of the net.”

There were still some doubts creeping in, a bit of ‘Here we go again’ for a Rice team that had come up just short so often in the finals before. 

“Everyone on our team knew we could do this, and personally I thought we had the game in the bag the entire time. I didn’t have any bad feelings about anything,” Kamish said. “When we went down 10-7, I started to have a little doubt in my mind, but then Pete came up to me and said ‘We need everything from you here.’ And I knew that none of my brothers were going to give up on me, so I just put in my work, put a couple in the net, and he handled the rest.”

Certainly, no one on Catholic Central’s team would’ve given back a trophy won against any other team, but it did take on extra meaning for the Shamrocks that they got to end their rival’s streak personally. 

“People always go to the perfect storm: What do you want to do, who do you want to play? We don’t care who we play, we just want to win a state championship. But, it feels good to beat Rice, yeah,” Wilson said. “It gets a lot of people off my (butt). People are going to talk no matter what. Who cares? It’s all for the school and the kids. Everything else is immaterial.”