Grand Rapids Catholic Central players celebrate following their victory over Sacred Heart. / Gary Malerba/Special to the Free Press
TROY, Mich. (DETROIT FREE PRESS) - Onlookers sensed the Division 2 championship match between Bloomfield Hills Sacred Heart and Grand Rapids Catholic Central could go right down to the wire.
It did, and then some.
Haley Brennan scored off a restart with 6.4 seconds left in overtime, lifting Catholic Central to its first lacrosse state championship with a come-from-behind 17-16 win Saturday at Troy Athens.
"Haley has a great side-arm shot. When she's one-on-one with the goalie, I like her chances," coach Dennis McCarty said. "I can't jump very high, but I think I was about three or four feet off the ground when it went in."
"I felt a lot of pressure, but I knew I had to do it," said Brennan, a senior attacker who scored four goals. "The game was on the line and I knew I could do it if I did what the coaches were telling me all week, and that was to really focus not on the outcome of the game, but doing our job at that exact moment."
The two teams played to a 9-9 tie in the regular season, and the flow of the championship match followed suit. Saturday's contest was tied on 13 occasions as neither team led by more than two goals, nor did either team score more than two in a row.
It appeared as if the Cougars (18-3-3) might win in regulation as sophomore Emily Braun scored her fifth goal of the game with about 20 seconds remaining, putting the ball in the lower right corner of the cage following a Sacred Heart yellow card.
But the Gazelles (16-8-2) knotted it up with 6 seconds to play, as senior midfielder Anna Pearson (six goals) went low after a restart.
Meagan Farrell put Catholic Central up 16-15 with her only goal of the match, 44 seconds into overtime. The Cougars' other 12 goals were scored by sophomores: Braun (five), Megan Wilson (five) and Tori Nienhaus (two).
"We're a young team," McCarty said. "Our key players are sophomores and juniors, and we had a new goalie (freshman Sophie Vachon) coming in, so you just never know. "We just got better as the year went on and the last three weeks we were outstanding."
Catholic Central has also won state championships this year in football and ice hockey, as well as a club state title in rugby.
Sacred Heart also got 7 goals from Katie Mezwa and two from Bella Yzerman. The Gazelles were involved in the only other girls' state championship to go to overtime; the 2008 contest won 12-11 by Flint Powers.
BY WRIGHT WILSON/DETROIT FREE PRESS