Northville’s game plan against defending KLAA Association boys lacrosse champion Brighton worked for the most part.
But in the end, the visiting Bulldogs were able shake off the determined Mustangs during the final seven minutes and earn their second straight title with a 12-9 victory.
“We knew they (Northville) would be good coming into it,” said Brighton coach Renn Moon, whose team improved to 14-2 overall. “They had done a good job scouting our team. They knew a lot of things we did or wanted to do. They did a good job of stopping us and coming back as well. They did a good job of defense the first half and then in the second half when we were up four goals they did a great job coming back. We were able to hold them off and get a couple at the end that really helped out.”
Brighton, the Lakes Conference champs, led 4-3 at halftime and went up by as many as four goals late in the third period before Northville cut it to 9-6 entering the fourth.
The Mustangs (11-5), who captured the Kensington Conference, then scored three unanswered goals to start the final period getting two from All-American Alec Melucci, along with one from Brendan Hicks (off an assist from Brennan Sweeney) to tie it 9-9 with only 8:05 remaining.
But that’s when Brighton reclaimed its stake getting what proved to be the game-winner from Nicholas Brish with 7:02 left followed by a pair of Dylan Mercier goals with 6:22 and 2:56 remaining to seal the victory.
“Then we got a man down on that unreleasable penalty and they scored two quick goals,” Northville coach Greg Durham said. “That kind of put the nail in the coffin for us and we couldn’t get the ball back. And then we had opportunities where we could have scored. It is what it is, but I’m proud of the guys. They’ve had a great season. It was nothing to hold their heads down low about.”
Mercier paced Brighton with five goals, while Jake Desrosiers and Jake Finnegan added three and two, respectively. Patrick Dowd and Brish each had a goal as well.
“Defensively we got beat, the same guy (Desrosiers) beat us three times,” Durham said. “We saw that and I just told ‘Griff’ (Brian Griffiths) just lock him down a little better. He did a better job after that. We came back and knew what we had to do. We had to win at the ‘X.’ I’ve been watching them (Brighton) and they’re so good at the ‘X.’ They’ve been crushing other teams at the face-off ‘X’ and (David) Morrissey just killed it tonight. He played awesome. He was probably the best player on the field. He was always on it and defensively, too.”
Melucci, a senior, led the Mustangs with four goals.
“Melucci played awesome, but their goalie (Connor Konas) kept them in the game,” Durham said. “He made three, four, five right-on-the-doorstep saves. Melucci could have had 10 tonight. But that kid played awesome. He’s probably their player of the game.”
Hicks, a junior, contributed three goals, while Brennan Sweeney finished with a goal and three assists. Harry Dyson tallied the other Northville goal, while Connor Sweeney also collected an assist.
“The key to win was working hard and trying to play through and make adjustments,” Moon said. “They (Northville) did good job of scouting our team and knowing our tendencies. It was just not the coaching staff, it was the players as well who identified areas of game. We learned that dodging from the wing we could get an advantage on that and we were able to do that. We identified another matchup. Number 11, Jake Desrosiers was able to beat his man and get a couple of goals there. He did a great job.”