Novi Detroit Catholic Central didn’t worry in the first quarter when Birmingham Detroit Country Day outshot the Shamrocks, 17-2.
The Shamrocks didn’t worry in the second quarter, either, when Country Day scored four goals in less than 2 minutes to open a four-goal lead.
Their patience paid off in the second half. Catholic Central finally grabbed its first lead with 1:19 left and edged Country Day, 14-13, in a Division 1 semifinal on the Shamrocks’ home turf on Wednesday.
“I thought we played hard all game, and we were down for most of the game, but we kept going and eventually worked it out,” said junior attack Rocco Mularoni, who scored the game-winner late in the contest. “It was a state semifinal, and we knew we had to keep working and pick it up. We knew it wasn’t going to come easy. Country Day’s a good team, so we just kept fighting.”
Mularoni scored four goals — all in the second half — and assisted on Andrew Schertzer’s equalizer with less than 3 minutes remaining. However, Mularoni admitted the deciding goal wasn’t his finest highlight.
“(Zack) Crawford saw me cutting through in front of the net and he threw me the pass, but it bounced off my face (mask) and went into the net,” he said. “It was pretty lucky. I just didn’t see it.”
At least Hunter Braun had a clear view. The 6-foot, 230-pound sophomore goalie made eight saves in the final quarter, allowing Country Day one goal during that stretch. He stonewalled the Yellowjackets five times on their final possession.
“I made a couple big saves at the end, our defense held them without a shot in the last 10 seconds, and our offense put the ball in the back of the net almost every possession,” he said. “We’ve come from behind before — we beat Brighton from behind — we knew we could do it riding on our seniors’ backs.”
Shamrocks coach Dave Wilson said: “We talk about being gutsy and being tough, and sometimes you’ve just got to grab your butt and hang on, and that’s what we did today. Country Day’s a great shooting team. We’ve been talking for a few weeks about the harder you work, the luckier you get, so we’ve prepped for this. We beat a really good program today.”
With the win, Catholic Central (16-5) advances to Saturday’s Division 1 state final, which Birmingham Brother Rice has won all 10 years of its existence. Country Day (15-7) won last year’s Division 2 championship but opted to compete in the larger division this spring.
“A lot of people talk about having lofty goals and aiming high, and I think we did a great job competing in that division this year,” coach Michael Cappelletti said. “We would have liked another shot at Brother Rice, but Catholic Central earned that opportunity today, and hats off to them.”
Boys lacrosse state finals: Saturday at Troy Athens
Div. 1: Detroit Catholic Central vs. Birmingham Brother Rice, 2 p.m.
Div. 2: Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood vs. Okemos, 4:30 p.m.