The championship streak is 11 and counting for Birmingham Brother Rice. The Warriors, who have never lost a state final since the MHSAA began sponsoring the sport in 2005, added another title with Saturday’s 16-7 win over Novi Detroit Catholic Central.
Brother Rice – who has beaten the Shamrocks to win five of those crowns – had a potent yet balanced offensive attack throughout the game. The Warriors got five goals from Morgan Macko, and three apiece from Riley North, John Lockwood and Bo Pickens, plus two by Brendan Kennedy.
“We work together as a unit really well,” said Macko, a junior attack. “In the past couple of years we had a lot of superstars. This year we didn’t have a clear-cut superstar. Just weapons everywhere. The defense can’t focus on one guy … just threats all over the place.”
It was the second straight year Macko lit things up in the finals against the Shamrocks. Last year he scored six times in Rice’s 23-7 triumph.
“It’s really fun playing these big stages in front of a pretty big crowd,” he said. “We feed off each other’s energy and it’s just a lot of fun out here.”
“He’s a big-game player and I’ll tell you what, he finishes well,” Rice coach Ajay Chawla said of his front-liner. “He produced for himself, but he was the recipient of a lot of great dodges from other guys, and it’s our unselfish plays that allow him to get goals when his guy slides off him and we find him. Overall, it was a great performance by Macko, but you’ve got to credit that whole offense all together today.”
The Warriors (20-4) came out charging, getting out to an 8-1 lead in the first 15 minutes of the game. Catholic Central (17-6) then scored three goals in less than a minute, but the Warriors were able to withstand the flurry with Pickens and Macko scoring late in the opening half.
“They got those quick goals but I don’t think we were ever worried,” Chawla said. “We know they play on streaks of emotions, and once our guys settled back down, we got those goals at the end of the half which I thought were huge goals for us. It took a little bit of momentum back.”
Rocco Mularoni had five of the Shamrocks’ seven goals.
“We fought really hard. Things didn’t go our way today, but I don’t think we gave up,” Catholic Central coach Dave Wilson said.
“With CC, we saw one of their best games today,” said Macko. “Everyone’s going to give us their best games because they want to beat Brother Rice. It’s a huge target on our backs, but I think our coaches prepare us enough.”
Lockwood, a senior attack who will play at Dickinson (Penn.) College next year, said adding to the Warriors’ state championship string to be a prime focus year in, year out.
“I wouldn’t say it’s pressure; I think it raises our game. It forces us to keep the tradition alive of never losing. The tradition of excellence has been going well so far,” he said.