Catholic High School League squads claim one state title after featuring in four finals

Lumen Christi keeper Izzy Ermatinger makes the Division 4 title-clinching save during a shootout against Kalamazoo Christian. She was just as spectacular in Lumen Christi’s journey to the championship game, allowing just two goals in seven playoff contests. (Photo courtesy of MHSAA)

EAST LANSING – A week ago, in blustery, typical spring-like conditions, the Catholic High School League celebrated three state champions, all in golf, by Novi Detroit Catholic Central in Division 1, Orchard Lake St. Mary’s in Division 2 and Clarkston Everest Collegiate in Division 4.

Seven days later last Saturday, under cloudless skies and summary mid-70s temps on the Michigan State University campus, the CHSL endured losses in three sports: Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice and Jackson Lumen Christi in baseball Divisions 1 and 3, respectively, and Bloomfield Hills Marian in Division 2 soccer.

Ah, but all is not doom and gloom. The day before, the Lumen Christi girls soccer squad claimed the Division 4 flag in a thrilling 3-1 shootout over defending champ, Kalamazoo Christian, to claim the title with a 2-1 scoreline. It was the school’s first state title in that sport, but their third crown this year, adding to the Titans’ Division 7 football and Division 3 girls cross country state championships.

The bottom line is that the CHSL can boast a single season-best 22 state championships in eight boys sports and seven girls sports.

Lumen Christi 2, Kalamazoo Christian 1 (3-1 on penalty kicks)

Talk about peaking at the right time.

Lumen Christ finished the regular season with an overall 7-7 record, a major part of it comprised of 2-7 in the CHSL AA Division.

Once the Michigan High School Athletic Association playoffs began, the Titans won seven games in a row (five by shutout) inspired by the brilliant goalkeeping of senior Izzy Ermatinger.

Lumen Christi took a 1-0 lead four minutes into the game on a goal by sophomore Codi Ruge and the Comets responded likewise early in the second half to create a 1-1 tie that lasted through a pair of 10-minute overtime periods and forcing a best-of-five shootout.

Ermatinger, sophomore Paige Lefere and junior Paityn Petitto converted penalty kicks for the Titans while Ermatinger got back to her position on the goal line to limit only one Kalamazoo Christian penalty kick to slip past for the victory.

Unable to get the “big hit” in a couple of situations with runners in scoring position, all that remains is to pack up and try again next year for Brother Rice, which was ranked No. 1 all season long and compiled a 44-2 record. (Photo by Don Horkey / Special to Detroit Catholic)
Unable to get the “big hit” in a couple of situations with runners in scoring position, all that remains is to pack up and try again next year for Brother Rice, which was ranked No. 1 all season long and compiled a 44-2 record. (Photo by Don Horkey / Special to Detroit Catholic)

Northville 2, Brother Rice 1

“That’s the nature of the game. It is what it is,” philosophized Brother Rice coach Bob Riker about his squad giving up a pair of runs on throwing errors in the third inning, rallying to get one back, but unable to get the “big hit” in a couple of situations with runners in scoring position.

In the bottom of the third, Max Orozco walked, moved to third on a single by Cash Van Ameyde and Ryan Tyranski’s fielder’s choice, and crossed home plate on Owen Turner’s base hit down the left field line and Tyranski reached third.

In the next inning, with two outs, Ty Fox walked, Cole Van Ameyde doubled and Orozco walked to load the bases. Cash Van Ameyde fouled out to the left-fielder.

“These guys did everything right the whole year,” Riker said. “I’ll miss them. They were great. You know, this was a journey and it means more who you’re taking the journey with. That’s what it’s all about.”

The Warriors, season-long ranked No. 1, compiled a spectacular 44-2 record. Two of those victories came in mid-April, 15-0 and 8-1 against Northville. Riker, in his 26th year at Rice, improved his record to 734-226, 16th best in the MHSAA.

Watervliet 9, Lumen Christi 1

To reach the finals, Lumen Christi erupted for three runs in their last at-bat for a 3-2 victory against Charlevoix in the semi-final.

It was Watervliet doing the erupting in the final, backing up an early 3-1 lead with a five-run seventh inning.

Lumen Christi, which was making its first trip to a championship game since 2015, finished 30-11.

“It’s a special season for these guys,” head coach Phil Clifford said. “We won the Catholic League (Cardinal Division) and lost in the state finals. You can’t script it any better than that other than winning this game. I’m really proud of everyone.”

Spring Lake 1, Marian 0

Spring Lake scored 13 minutes into the contest. The game evolved into tightly contested with both teams having long stretches of possession but not creating many big scoring chances.

“This was a difficult pill to swallow,” said first-year head coach Danny Price, “but at the same time it’s a kind of learning experience for our young team, learning how to play coming from behind. We’ll be back next year. We’ve got a young squad (only four seniors), and we’ve got tons of freshmen coming in. We’ll just reload.”

Marian (15-4-3) was seeking its ninth state title. Its last came in 2021, a 3-0 win against Spring Lake.

Contact Don Horkey at [email protected]



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