Michigan Lacrosse Officials Association training

A growing game needs a growing pool of officials. If you’re interested (or know somebody interested) in becoming one, it’s your time to shine. The MichLOA is holding a class soon, with registration available:

There is a new official’s training class being offered by Michigan Lacrosse Officials Association (“MichLOA”). We are currently recruiting new officials for the 2017 boys lacrosse season.

The class will be held on Saturday September 17th at Birmingham Seaholm HS (room C103). The class starts at 8:30 and will run until 1:00. Please arrive early.

In order to officiate youth or high school games you must complete new officials training!

You need to formally register and pay for the training class. To do so, go to www.michloa.org. There is a PayPal registration and payment likely under the new officials tab. Your $50 fee also includes your first years MichLOA dues.

It will also behoove you to register with US Lacrosse as a boy’s official as soon as possible. Go to www.uslacrosse.org to register.

Growth of the game in the state is one of the big missions around here, so get ready to help meet that end of you’re willing and able.

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2016 US Lacrosse All-Americans

List from the MHSLCA release, college commitments from the LaxPower database.

Cooper Belanger 2016 Attack Detroit Country Day School Colgate
Morgan Macko* 2016 Attack Birmingham Brother Rice Bellarmine
Riley North 2016 Attack Birmingham Brother Rice
Matt Solberg 2016 Attack East Grand Rapids Amherst
Michael Baccanari 2016 Midfielder University of Detroit Jesuit High School
Evan Dennis 2016 Midfielder Birmingham Brother Rice
Alex Jarzembowski 2016 Midfielder Detroit Catholic Central Detroit
Brian Cosgrove 2016 LSM Birmingham Brother Rice Fairfield
Jonathan Boos, Jr. 2016 Defense Detroit Country Day School Middlebury
Luke Cappetto 2016 Defense Birmingham Brother Rice
Andrew Clay 2016 Defense Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central
Matt Dolan 2016 Defense Detroit Country Day School
Ian Genord 2016 Defense Notre Dame Prep Indianapolis
Jack O’Hara 2016 Defense Birmingham Brother Rice
Ross Reason 2016 Goalie Birmingham Brother Rice
Jackson White 2016 Goalie Detroit Country Day School
Hub Hejna 2017 Attack East Grand Rapids
Jack Kelly 2017 Midfielder Birmingham Brother Rice
Patrick English 2018 Midfielder Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central Marquette
Bryce Clay 2018 Attack Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central

* Mr. Lacrosse.

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Michigan Lacrosse Hall of Fame 2016 inductees

From US Lacrosse – Michigan Chapter press release:

The US Lacrosse Michigan Chapter Is pleased to announce the 2016 class of the  Michigan Lacrosse Hall of Fame. These three individuals proved themselves to be some of the best Lacrosse players to come from our state.  Beyond that they have given back to the game. For their prowess on the field and their generosity off, we are proud to induct them into the Michigan Lacrosse Hall of Fame.  Their induction will be celebrated on January 14th, 2017. Please save the date for further details.

Nick Shevillo – Player

Nick started his lacrosse career in 6th grade at St Hugo’s in Bloomfield Hills. From there, he went on the play at Brother Rice High School where he was a 3-time varsity letterman and received: All-State honors all three years and All-Midwest honors his junior and senior years. His career at Brother Rice included: two state championships (1986 -first state championship for Brother Rice and 1988), and a Midwest championship in 1987.  He was also elected captain in his senior year. After high school, Nick distinguished himself at Johns Hopkins University where he was a 4-year letterman.  .

During his collegiate career, he was a 3-year starter, selected a team captain in his senior year, helped take Hopkins to the Final Four in 1992, and received All-American honors for his outstanding season. After his playing career, Nick went on to coach youth and high school lacrosse at various levels until his last coaching position as an assistance coach for Naples High School for 6 years.

Michigan Lacrosse is honored to name Nick Shevillo as one of this year’s distinguished inductees into the Michigan Lacrosse Hall of Fame.

Alison Ambrozy – Player

Alison is one of the best women’s players Michigan has ever produced. She was a 4-year letter winner for Grosse Pointe South from 2001-2004. GPS went to the Michigan State Finals from 2002-2004, winning the championships in 2003 and 2004. She achieved All-State 3 years, MVP of the state tournament in 2003, All-American in 2004 and Academic All-American 2003 and 2004.

A walk-on to the University of Pennsylvania’s lacrosse program, she earned a starting position as a freshman and soon became a part of the resurgence of Penn Lacrosse; taking them to the Final Four in 2007 and the Championship game in 2008. A captain of Penn’s 2008 team, one personal highlight for Alison was scoring a hat trick in Penn’s win over Northwestern that year, breaking their 36-game winning streak. Her personal accolades include: Ivy League Offensive Player of the week, first team all-region, and 2nd team All-Ivy.

After graduating, Alison has given back by coaching lacrosse for BearLax for 4 years and helping to start the first Women’s team for the renowned Olympic Club in San Francisco. For the past 3 seasons, Alison has coached for the Oakland Lacrosse Club in California, a group that uses lacrosse to help Inner-city youths reach their full potential.

US Lacrosse Michigan is proud to honor and recognize Alison Ambrozy for her achievements on the lacrosse field and efforts off the field.

Paul Cosgrove – Player

Paul Cosgrove (Coz) is heralded as one of the best long poles to come out of Michigan. A Brother Rice player, his accomplishments included: the 1987 Midwest Championship, the 1988 State of Michigan Championship, All-State Honors in 1987 and 1988, and All-Midwest Honors in 1988. Following high school, Paul played at Michigan State in 1989 where he was honored with Outstanding Rookie of the Year. Transferring to Ohio Wesleyan, he helped OWU get to the National Championship game in 1993. That year he was named a collegiate All-American and was selected to play in the prestigious North/South All-Star game.

Following college, Paul played for Team Under Amour at the Vail Shootout for ten years and most notably, Team Michigan, when they gave Team USA the best game of the year in the summer of 1994. He has given back to the game by coaching in Michigan for high school and youth teams for many years. He was an assistant coach for the 1999 D1 State Champs, Detroit Country Day, and the 2006 D2 State Champs, Cranbrook. He is the player and now the coach who helped define the statement, “defense wins championships.”

US Lacrosse – Michigan is pleased to honor Paul Cosgrove for his stellar playing career and continued support of the game and welcome him into the Michigan Hall of Fame.

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Requiem for a Season: Michigan Wolverines 2016

The Maize and Blue may want to forget they watched a lot of the 2016 season.

The Maize and Blue may want to forget they watched a lot of the 2016 season. (Photo by Tim Sullivan/Great Lax State)

After what had looked like steady progress through the first four years of the program – 1-13 records in the first two years, then 5-11 in 2014, 5-8 (with the program’s first conference win) in 2015 – this spring was a 3-10 dud for the Maize and Blue. Climbing from No. 58 to 54 to 49 to 43 in the LaxPower computer rankings, they slid back to No. 48 this season.

Some of this is certainly explicable. They likely didn’t suffer more injuries than other teams, but in terms of key injuries, the program’s two all-time leading scorers missing a handful of games at the same time (and a few on either side without one or the other), along with a three-year starter on defense missing the entire year is about as bad as it gets. Some of it is less explicable: giving a terrible Dartmouth team its only win of the season and falling to the MAAC’s second-place team (Marist) in back-to-back home games leaves a sour taste in the mouth. If the Wolverines simply take care of business in those two, the amount that this season leaves a bad taste in the mouth is reduced in a major way.

So, how much is one-year hiccup and how much is the program reaching a bit of a plateau early in its existence? The obvious, reasonable answer is that the majority is the former (don’t tell the message boarders that, of course), but the coaching staff has some serious answers to find for 2017, as well.

Here’s the statistical profile for the season:

Michigan Wolverines 2016
Michigan Opponents
Faceoff Wins 178 Faceoff Wins 156
Clearing 197-232 Clearing 197-228
Possessions 441 Possessions 419
Goals 122 Goals 166
Offensive Efficiency .277 Offensive Efficiency .396

Thanks almost entirely to faceoff specialist Brad Lott, Michigan had a slight advantage in the possession game on the year (clears were almost dead even). However, while the offense was decent, the defense was simply bad, thus the Wolverines didn’t have a great year.

What Went Well

Unfortunately, a lot of things in this section are going to be in the departing category, including Lott. He struggled a couple years ago when the faceoff rules changed, but was outstanding in this, his final year in the winged helmet.

Moving Kyle Jackson to attack, where his skillset seems a bit more natural, and where he could share a line with Ian King (on the rare occasion both were healthy) worked very well. The U-M offense was particularly good when that duo was able to see the field together, and though it struggled at other times, we got a glimpse of what can be when Michigan has not just a good starting lineup, but full depth to overcome some of those losses.

After a few years of playing a very conservative defense style (which didn’t go particularly well), Michigan played a relatively aggressive scheme this year (which, to be fair, went worse). That had its downsides, no doubt, but did result in a fair number of caused turnovers defensively. I would assume that the shift was in part due to playing lots of youth on defense (juniors Stefan Bergman and Andrew Hatton were out for significant stretched, senior Chris Walker missed a pair of games, where it’s easier to say “go get it” than to have them mentally executing your best schemes on an every-trip basis. Being able to do both in the future will be a boost.

In that regard, the amount of playing time for youngsters in general was something that helps going forward. It could probably fit into any of the three headings in this post though, since it certainly stunk for the outcome of the 2016 season, but portends bright things for the future.

Room For Improvement

The defense was straight-up bad. As mentioned above, there are some reasons for this – you don’t expect to have to use freshman starters for 12 of 39 (Michigan lists four starting positions with the LSM not considered a starter, 13 games) possible openings, for one thing – but at a certain point, you have to find a way to cope with it, even if the depth and talent in the program isn’t what outsiders want to expect out of a fifth-year program – it’s closer to a second- or third-year group, thanks to the club transition.

The Wolverines hung goalie Gerald Logan out to dry quite a bit, with early (or extremely late) slides resulting in the majority – .572 – of opponent scores being assisted. He’s a better keeper than his career-low .509 save percentage would have you think, and the players in front of him need to be better. Youth movement, etc., etc., but wasting a talent like him between the pipes is bad either way.

Offensively, Michigan wasn’t a poor team this year, but they do have one are in which they can take things to the next level: taking care of the ball. They turned it over 185 times on the year (.420), well over their number of goals, whereas opponents saw exactly the same number of offensive opportunities end in a goal as in a turnover. Reducing the number of possessions that are simply wasted goes a long way to straightening things out. Unfortunately some of Michigan’s best returning players (Ian King, Mikie Schlosser, Decker Curran) were responsible for a big portion of that turnover mark – though, to be fair, that’s because they’re expected to do a lot of the ball-handling – so individual improvement will be the key to taking that next step.

The biggest thing that jumps out as room for improvement is a little less concrete and stats-based than those immediately above, but it’s the difference between a letdown year and continuing slow, steady progress: taking care of business in games that should be won. U-M played one of the toughest schedules in the country (three of four final four teams, including both finalists), but there were chances in there to get some wins, and too many of those chances fell by the wayside. A team that wants to go where Michigan wants to go shouldn’t drop back-to-back home games against Dartmouth and Marist: it should win both. They should be able to steal one themselves against Ohio State (a three-goal loss), Penn (a two-goal loss), and Maryland (a one-goal loss – and what could have been a signature moment over the eventual national runner-up). Add in that a potential win against Detroit was canceled due to weather, and this season should have looked better than it did.

The Distant Future

Fortunately for Michigan, even a relatively trying season can be seen as growing pains. The number of freshman contributors (in addition to the defenders mentioned above, 18 other man-games were started by freshmen) was crappy for the outcome of the 2016 season, but should pay dividends in 2017 and beyond. So too should those close losses, even those that came against opponents where “close loss” might as well be “didn’t show up.”

The Wolverines’ roster isn’t yet where outsiders expect it to be, and that’s fine, but more in-depth observers should be cognizant of how that changes the expectations. The sophomore class that was on the field this spring was probably the first full, Division-1 recruiting class that this staff brought in. While the senior and junior groups have brought some outstanding individual players (Gerald Logan Kyle Jackson, Ian King, to name a few) to Ann Arbor, in terms of full depth of talent throughout a group – and not just getting lucky to hit on a couple guys here and there – you should see, going forward, what is expected of a real life D-1 squad.

For 2017 in specific, there are a couple personnel questions to be answered, and some that could have a major impact. Goalie Gerald Logan, defenseman Charlie Keady, and midfielder Brendan Gaughan all mised a full season due to injury at some point during their careers (2014 for Logan and Keady, 2013 for Gaughan), and could return as redshirt seniors next spring. No official announcements have been made as to whether any of the three are returning, but current expectation is that Gaughan is the only of the three to return. Logan has a solid replacement in Robbie Zonino, Gaughan has played just limited minutes in his three active years, and I’ve already extensively discussed the influx of youth on close D, but some experience – and obvious talent – added to the roster can’t be construed as a bad thing, either.

Michigan will have to make up for some personnel losses even if some of those guys return. Kyle Jackson is the first NCAA-era pro (Brekan Kohlitz and Trevor Yealy, both primarily from the club days, had opportunities with MLL and NLL teams, respectively) from this program, picked up by the Boston Cannons. He also happens to be the program’s all-time leading scorer. While he’ll almost certainly be passed by Ian King if the rising senior can remain healthy next spring, Jackson leaves a big void. Peter Kraus and Mike Hernandez will also leave a sizable void offensively, while all the talented up-and-comers in the world won’t make Michigan forget about LSM Chase Brown.

Faceoffs will be a question mark after Michigan’s non-Lott players struggled, and Lott exhausting his own eligibility. There should be bullets in the chamber (incoming freshman Matt Dellacroce is highly-regarded, players on the roster can improve, and there may be a high-profile transfer or two available), but Life Without Lott will be something for the program to adjust to.

The Wolverines’ 2016 was a poor season, but may have actually been what was needed for 2017 to be a major step forward for the program. This time of year is when the team has to capitalize on what they learned this spring to forget all about it in less than nine months’ time.

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2016 State Champions crowned

Saturday’s state title games saw your 2016 Division-1 and Division-2 champions crowned on both the boys’ ad girls’ sides:

Boys

Division-1: Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice d. Detroit Catholic Central, 10-8.

Division-2: Forest Hills Central d. East Grand Rapids, 10-6.

Girls

Division-1: Rockford d. Birmingham Unified 12-9

Division-2: East Grand Rapids d. Cranbrook-Kingswood 13-11.

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Requiem for a Season: Detroit Titans 2016

Joel Matthews Detroit titans Lacrosse Marist Red Foxes

Remember the happy times. Joel Matthews game-winner from 2012.

UDM certainly didn’t have a banner year, finishing with just a 2-10 record and missing out on the MAAC playoffs. The NCAA’s inexplicable vendetta against TFL and good statistical analysis in lacrosse continues, so the opponent-adjusted data shall remain a mystery, but per the LaxPower numbers, the Titans were the No. 61 team nationally, the worst (in absolute terms and percentile-wise, given the growth of Division-1) since 2010.

So: this was a step back – the first year of the post-Shayne Adams era was an adjustment – but not necessarily one that has to persist. Detroit had consistently been one of the top four teams in the league, with five straight MAAC tournament appearances, and the gap isn’t large to get back there.

Here’s their statistical profile for the season:

Detroit Titans 2016
Detroit Opponents
Faceoff Wins 101 Faceoff Wins 125
Clearing 187-225 Clearing 206-224
Possessions 344 Possessions 387
Goals 73 Goals 118
Offensive Efficiency .212 Offensive Efficiency .305

UDM was poor in the possession game, poor on offense, and mediocre on defense. Not going to win a ton of games that way.

What Went Well

Detroit was exceptional in fourth quarters, at least as it compares to the rest of the game. they were outscored 89-45 in quarters 1-3, and nearly drew even in the fourth over the course of the year, outscored just 29-28. Almost a third of their shots on the year and well more than a third of their shots on goal also came in the fourth. There are caveats, of course: they were often down by so much that opponents let off the gas (and emptied the bench) to close the game, and only one of those fourth quarter explosions turned into a victory. Still, the never-say-die attitude can pay off in the long run, as long as the team makes incremental improvement.

Jason Weber’s save percentage declined for the second straight year, ending at .541 (after an outstanding .642 as a freshman and .589 last year), but was still enough to finish in the top 20 nationally. With a more consistent defense in front of him, he has a chance to bounce back up as a senior next spring.

Ben Gjokaj earned the starting gig on faceoffs about halfway through the year, and turned the Titans from a very poor team at the dot into a pretty good one. His arrival didn’t come quickly enough for the season-long stats to reflect a good faceoff team, but by the end of the year, that was the case for UDM. Wing play was important to that – he only had 23 GBs on 74 faceoff wins for the season – but it appears the Titans have something to build on there.

Although the offense wasn’t good this year, the Titans have found a comfort in running it through Mark Anstead, which is a building block for more consistency (and quality) going forward. He was more a scorer than assist guy last year, and the opposite was true this year. A well-rounded attackman through two years at Detroit, the trajectory should continue upwards.

Even though they finished on the negative end in the faceoff game, Detroit was one ground ball short of even for the season. If you eliminate FO play, they picked up 198 ground ball to opponents’ 175. Margins like that can help teams make up for other areas in which they don’t stack up to the opposition.

There were some bad results this year, and obviously just a pair of wins. However, there were some good results in the losses. UDM fell to Mercer, Bellarmine, and Siena by a single goal, and NCAA Tournament participants Marquette and Air Force by just a pair. A moral victory is also known as a loss, but that does demonstrate that Detroit wasn’t far from having a much better season, and even incremental improvement could flip some of those results.

Room For Improvement

If I told you turnovers were a problem for a Detroit squad, would you believe me? Of course you would, because it seems to be the case every year. UDM committed 193 in 344 possessions, so 56% of their opportunities with the ball ended with a giveaway. It’s the one thing that is consistent across the seasons, and if the Titans can take more care of the ball (only 84 of those turnovers were forced by opponents), a mini-leap forward awaits.

Other than Anstead’s contributions (and there were a handful of other nice offensive performers) the offense was very, very bad. Without the schedule-adjusted TFL numbers, it’s tough to say just how bad, but playing in the MAAC and against three SoCon teams in the non-conference doesn’t exactly represent a murderer’s row. The turnovers were a big part of the struggles there, but so was poor shooting. We’ve seen some volume-shooters for UDM in the past – and of course with the nature of backup in lacrosse, that’s not always a bad thing – and there was some of that this year, as well. Getting the ball past the goalie is the point, and UDM didn’t do that enough, and too often didn’t even give it a chance.

One thing that has been a problem in the past is a penalty-prone squad, and it wasn’t this year, with the Titans committing only 33 infractions all season. However, when they did go man-down, it was bad. Opponents converted at .467 on their EMO opportunities, sixth-worst in the nation. With a very good goalie, that probably speaks to a need for improvement from the field players.

For a program that (rightfully) takes pride in its city, Detroit probably had its worst performances at home. It could just be a sample size issue – only four home games, compared to six on the road and two neutral-site – but the culture of the program is designed to capitalize on that pride. This needs to be manifested in the results next year.

The Distant Future

This was a relatively young team this year, which means few key losses to graduation. Many of those losses, however, come on defense. Jordan Yono and Paul Bitetti will be tough to replace. Treading water on defense will be a win. Fortunately, there are some key contributors (LSM Austin Polson-McCannon, D Will Kane, and of course Weber) who have a chance to take a step forward and achieve that goal.

Detroit loses second-leading scorer Andy Hebden (a full-time attackman after spending most of his career in the midfield), but returns eight of the top nine scorers on the season. A year of adjusting to life without Shayne Adams was a struggle, but probably sets the Titans up to make big strides on offense. Just the normal growth that comes with maturity and experience of players should see a boost there.

UDM also found an answer on faceoffs with Gjokaj over the course of the year, which should help in the possession game if he can maintain (or improve) form. That’s not a guarantee, but a good specialist is a good specialist. Junior Greg Marzec Freshman Mike Sforza showed some good things at times, and can be nice secondary options. They’re more self-win guys, whereas wing play is key for Gjokaj (though he won more GBs himself as the year went on).

Until Detroit isn’t the type of team that turns it over a bunch, there will always be questions about recruiting strategy. Good athletes come from the state of Michigan, no doubt, but have the stick skills been part of the problem. That some of the Titans’ best players over the years have come from hotbeds – Bitetti, Anstead, Shayne Adams from Long Island, DC, and Ontario, respectively – may speak to that. You can win with players from Michigan, but a sloppy style of play may be the tradeoff until the game continues to improve at the high school level within our borders.

This was a (very) down year for Detroit, but there’s plenty of reason for optimism going forward despite it. If the team plays to its potential next spring, this will look like a blip, rather than the program falling off.

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Michigan Boys High School Regional Semifinal Schedule

One thing that stopped when I didn’t have the time to blog regularly was the daily schedule of all in-state teams from high school through the college level. While that’s not coming back until next spring (fingers crossed), the Boys state playoffs are getting into serious territory with plenty of big games in the next two days.

Division 2

Region 5 @ Caledonia
East Grand Rapids v. Grosse Pointe South, 5 p.m.
Forest Hills Eastern v. Lowell, 7 p.m.

Region 6 @ DeWitt
Okemos v. Vicksburg, 5:30 p.m.
Haslett-Williamston v. Notre Dame Prep, 7 p.m.

Region 7 @ Howell Parker Middle School
Forest Hills Central v. Grosse Pointe University Liggett, 5 p.m.
Grosse Pointe North v. Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard

Region 8 @ Madison Heights Bishop Foley Wednesday
Orchard Lake St. Mary’s v. Warren De La Salle, 5:30 p.m.
Rochester Adams v. Cranbrook, 7:30 p.m.

Division 1 (All Games Wednesday)

Region 1 @ Howell
Hartland v. Hudsonville, 5 p.m.
Rockford v. University of Detroit-Jesuit, 7 p.m.

Region 2 @ West Bloomfield High School
Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice v. Midland, 5 p.m.
Lake Orion v. Clarkston, 7 p.m.

Region 3 @ North Farmington
Beverly Hills Detroit Country Day v. Northville, 5 p.m.
Brighton v. Ann Arbor Pioneer, 7 p.m.

Region 4 @ Troy Athens
Detroit Catholic Central v. Utica Eisenhower, 6 p.m.
Birmingham v. Troy Athens, 8 p.m.

All regional finals are at the host site listed above on Friday (though Region 1’s final could move to Grandville if both Grand Rapids teams win).

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