In a battle of undefeated neighborhood rivals, it was the nine-time defending MHSAA Division 1 state champions which again earned boys lacrosse bragging rights.
Powerful Birmingham Brother Rice started strong and controlled most of the play en route to a 12-3 triumph over Birmingham United on a chilly Thursday evening at Maple Field.
The Warriors, who have not lost to a Michigan-based team since 2002 when Birmingham United defeated Rice in the state championship game that year, hiked their overall record to 3-0. Birmingham dropped to 3-1.
“I think our players thought about (playing the neighborhood rival) and I think sometimes they get too amped up or it gets the better of them,” said Brother Rice’s first-year head coach Ajay Chawla. “Birmingham is a big rival for us. Even though the last couple of years haven’t been great games, it is still (a game) we take very seriously.”
Brother Rice netted the game’s first four goals within a three minute span of the opening quarter. Senior attack Joe Dudley scored three of those goals and senior midfielder Jason Alessi accounted for the other.
Birmingham quickly countered with a pair of goals – the second on a power play – by sophomore Charlie Schiefer to cut the Warrior lead in half midway through the first. However, Alessi and junior attack John Lockwood found the back on the net in the final 1:16 of the furious first quarter which had a combined eight goals scored.
Rice scored once in the second for a 7-2 halftime lead.
The Warriors outscored the host Bulldogs by a 5-1 second-half margin to account for the final score.
“We got off to a quick start, but then we started playing sloppy and we slowed down a little bit at the end of the first and the second,” said Chawla. “But, there were flashes of greatness. Our leaders stepped up when they needed to.
“We’ve started off slow this year, but I think we are playing at a good pace right now,” he said. “Our schedule is starting to get harder and we are going to start facing a lot tougher teams. We need to really piece four quarters together and we really haven’t done that yet as a team.”
Dudley led the Rice attack with six goals and Alessi finished with a pair. Besides Lockwood, the other Warrior scorers included sophomore Morgan Macko, senior Reid Fisher and senior Jack Nelson.
Schiefer accounted for all three Birmingham goals. Bulldog goalie, senior Gideon Bush, played a strong game to keep it at a nine-goal outcome.
“We had a slow start, but I was proud the boys didn’t give up,” said Birmingham head coach Dr. Burton Engel. “We played them fairly evenly (after the slow start) and we look forward to playing them again.”