Shrine, Brother Rice, Cranbrook, Liggett win Catholic League lacrosse crowns

Royal Oak Shrine’s Conor Benson, left, prepares to win a draw against University-Liggett. Benson’s six goals led Shrine to its first Catholic League lacrosse title, 15-7. (Photos by Wright Wilson | Special to Detroit Catholic)

NOVI — It was only a matter of time for Royal Oak Shrine.

Shrine’s boys lacrosse team was stocked full of veteran players who have excelled together over the years, and the Knights were able to put it together Saturday on the big stage, winning the school’s first Catholic League championship with a 15-7 victory over Grosse Pointe Woods University-Liggett.

“We’ve got 15 juniors and we’re all really tight, so everything’s going really well for us,” said attack Conor Benson. “In our eighth-grade year, we won the CYO championship. The whole group of guys that won that championship are on the same team now. We’ve got good chemistry.”

Benson helped shell-shock Liggett as Shrine seized the lead immediately. He controlled the first two face-offs, and his shots on those possessions found the twine, giving Shrine a 2-0 lead just 41 seconds into the game. Sophomore Tommy Robinson scored two more times before two more minutes passed and Benson added another at the 7:02 mark, making the score 5-0 before Liggett could find its legs.

Shrine’s Tommy Robinson chases a ground ball in the first half of the Cardinal Division championship. Robinson was game-high scorer with seven goals in Shrine’s 15-7 win over Grosse Pointe Woods University-Liggett.

“Usually we start off a little slow and take a couple of punches, but we came out swinging today,” Shrine coach Ryan Jay said. “I keep saying ‘foot on the gas,’ and they lived up to it today. It just fired us up.”

Benson scored four of his six goals in the first quarter for Shrine. Robinson had a game-high seven, while junior Peter Murphy scored the other two. Alex George had four tallies for Liggett.

“Conor wins 83 percent (of the draws), and when he wins that much, it really opens things up so we can score,” Jay said. “When you get somebody doing that repeatedly, it makes everything so much easier. Usually when they start to focus on Conor, it frees Tommy up, but it also frees up Peter Murphy. When we have those three going, we’re a hard team to stop.”

The Knights, at 11-0, have yet to be stopped this season.

“This is just gravy,” Jay said. “I thought we’d be competitive, but not being around the scene for a couple of years, I didn’t know about anybody else. It was starting to look like we could make some noise in the playoffs, and maybe even in the Catholic League. I’m excited to see what we can do in the state playoffs.”

Shrine celebrates its first Catholic League lacrosse championship. The Knights are 11-0 this year.

Until those games are played, the Shrine players are content to savor their latest victory.

“It’s the first time we’ve won the Catholic League, and we did it with a big win. I’ve been dreaming about this since I’ve started playing,” Robinson said. “We made history.”

Brother Rice claims Bishop Division title

While Shrine took its first league championship, Brother Rice won its 23rd — all but one since the Catholic League started sponsoring the sport. And the Warriors did it in lockdown fashion, beating Orchard Lake St. Mary 16-4 in the second half of Saturday’s double-header played at Catholic Central.

How dominant was Brother Rice? St. Mary’s didn’t have its first possession in the offensive end until five minutes were played. The Eaglets didn’t get their first shot until eight minutes elapsed, and it would be the final two minutes of the first half until they could notch a goal.

Up to that point, the Warriors had opened an 11-0 lead.

“I thought we’d get off to a fast start. In the last couple of games we’ve been hitting our stride early,” Brother Rice coach Ajay Chawla said. “Like I told these guys, you hit your stride early and get a quick couple of goals, you cause that time out, and chips start to fall after that.”

Junior Paulie Fortino opened the scoring in the first minute of the game, and sophomore Josh Schlackman scored 2:08 into the contest. Things remained 2-0 until the Warriors tallied three more times in the final minute of the first quarter.

Brother Rice had a dominant performance in its 16-4 victory over Orchard Lake St. Mary’s to win the Bishop Division Catholic League championship.

“Almost half of our goals came from uneven situations where we forced turnovers, came down and scored,” Chawla said. “I thought our offense looked good, and our defense looked even better in the first half. Was it according to plan? I think the first half was according to plan.”

Brother Rice (14-2) had a balanced attack, with Schlackman, senior Luke Dudley and sophomore Christian McNulty scoring four times apiece. Senior Tommy Kunz earned the victory in goal.

“We were just moving the ball well, making some good passes,” McNulty said. “We were just going to come out and do what had to be done and play our best game. I think we played to the best of our ability, but we’ve still got a lot of ways to go, though.”

Cranbrook, Liggett capture girls’ titles

In a double-header played the previous night at Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook, the host school and Liggett won the girls’ championships.

It took a comeback for the Cranes to capture the Bishop Division title. Cranbrook (6-6) trailed Bloomfield Hills Marian at halftime before rallying for a 18-7 win. In doing so, the Cranes avenged a 12-11 loss to Marian from two weeks earlier.

Junior Riya Batra paced Cranbrook’s offense, netting six goals. Three other players scored three times apiece: seniors Mallory Brophy, Olivia DeMuth and Lilli Sherman. Gwen Woodbury was the winning goalie.

It was Cranbrook’s third league title, to go with back-to-back wins in 2017-18.

In the girls’ Cardinal Division championship, Liggett got goals from five different players in defeating Dearborn Divine Child, 12-5. Senior Delaney Garvey had a game-high six, while senior Ella Karolak and junior Ava Jacob scored two times apiece. Junior Abi Cone and freshman Chloe McFarlane also scored for the 11-3 Knights, who had lost to Divine Child in April.