The boys varsity lacrosse team secures its spot in the state championship game after defeating Lowell High


Gabby Thompson

Luke Wedder secures a Ranger possession.

The state semi-finals proved no biggie for the boys varsity lacrosse team after their previous competition against Lowell High. On Wednesday, June 7, the Rangers went head-to-head with the Red Arrows; the Rangers blew the competition right off the field. 18-5 was the score posted on the board the moment that the clock hit zero. The boys had made it to the state championship once more.

With such a high-stakes game rolling in, the team knew that there needed to be a massive amount of preparation; they needed to work on their physical game but also their mental game. Coach Andy Shira knew that he could not lose his players to blurred mindsets.

“Lowell was a confident and hungry team with nothing to lose,” Shira stated. “We felt they were probably further in the tournament than expected, and they had a huge upset win over East Grand Rapids last week. A confident and hungry team in the playoffs can be dangerous, so we had to stay focused and ensure we prepared well for them.”

Keeping that in mind, the Rangers had to find the motivation and grit to play their hearts out—their focus was essential in this game. But to be focused, the guys needed energy; they needed spirits—high spirits. The atmosphere was slow and dim during the first two quarters, but luckily, that changed. 

“We weren’t very happy with the energy that we came out with during the first half,” said sophomore defensive midfielder Ty Ryan, “we hadn’t capitalized on some open looks on offense, and we could definitely clean some stuff up defensively. The energy wasn’t horrible, but we knew we could do better. After a halftime talk, we went out and continued to dominate; and the fact that it is the state semi-finals and a huge crowd out there always gets you going.”

In the first quarter, the lead was only in the range of two to three points. Slowly but surely, the lead grew bigger and bigger. Many different things happened that helped the team pull farther from the grasp of Lowell, but Shira had a few in mind.

“It was all about momentum during this game for us. I think we were all a little frustrated after Saturday’s performance against Haslett,” Shira explained. “So it was good to go take some aggression out on someone other than our own teammates in practice. We also preached we couldn’t have slow starts anymore. The further into the tournament you get, the better teams are going to be, and if you let teams hang around or get a lead in you early, bad things can happen late in the game.”

The momentum created an excellent ripple effect for the gentlemen. One of their highest scores was put up in this game. The top scorer of the game, senior captain and attackman Jonah McConnell scored four goals; another captain, junior midfielder Nolan Hartl, secured three goals and pulled through with three assists. Coming in with two goals was senior attackman Jake Koning;  senior captain and attackman Graham Bennett duplicated Jake’s numbers. Senior midfielders Magnus Salmon and Reese Le both also had two goals each; Reese had an assist too. Collin Webb, yet another senior midfielder, had one goal under his belt; junior midfielder Mickey Mehney did as well. With just a few seconds left, Ty managed to secure his first varsity goal. On the X, junior face-off specialist Luke Wedder won 21 out of 26 face-offs. These numbers were something to be proud of!

With such a variety of players scoring and all these good plays and all these good things, there was so much pride to have. Every piece and position of the game was one to point out, but Ty had some of his favorites that he described.

“Overall, we dominated most aspects of the game; however, one that stood out was the face-offs. All year Wedder has been huge for us in the possession battle, and he continued to help us out in this game,” he said. “Along with that, it is very cool to be able to be leading a team that much in a state-semi matchup and be able to get the second-string players in closer to the end of the game. Those guys work really hard to get better in practice and help get starters better and ready for the games, and it is nice to give them some well-deserved playing time, especially in a big game like the semis.”

Such positivity filled the field after the boys took such a good win. They had cleaned up quite a bit and finally felt like some energy was in the air. It was not just a win but a well-deserved, good win. But with this win comes the state championship game—the biggest game of the season. 

“Detroit Country Day beat us in overtime in March, on the road, and after we just got back from a trip in Indianapolis,” said Shira. “We weren’t happy with how we played or how many unforced turnovers we had. They’re going to be an improved team, and so are we. I think we have a lot of clicking right now, so I’m excited to get back out there and let the guys play. We can’t take them lightly by any means. We have a chance to go out and win a state championship for our school and our community. Nothing is more exciting than that!”

As excited as ever, the boys will be traveling to Memorial Field over in East Grand Rapids for the final game of their season. Once 5:00 p.m. hits on Saturday, June 10, the winner of the state championship will slowly be revealed. This game is no joke for the boys; all the strength and power they have left has to go into it and be left on the field. It is all or nothing now.