Okemos comes back to claim first CAAC title since 2016

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HASLETT, Mich. (WLNS) – It doesn’t get much better than playing a rival with a league title on the line. That was the case Thursday night in Haslett when the 12-1 Vikings welcomed in 7-2 Okemos for the Capital Area Activities Conference lacrosse title.

Haslett used the home field to its advantage in the early going. The Vikings scored five goals in the first quarter and held a 5-2 lead after the first 12 minutes.

However, the rest of the way was all Okemos.

The Chiefs scored six unanswered goals, with the sixth goal coming from senior attackman Mitch Chermak at the 7:11 mark in the third quarter.

“This is the most close-knit team I’ve ever been a part of and our energy says it all. Throughout the whole game, we stuck with it. We were down by three, came back and we run this – that’s all I have to say,” Chermak said.

“So thrilled for the kids to have an opportunity to do this,” Okemos lacrosse coach, Mike Van Antwerp said. “We talked at halftime and said ‘hey, look, take advantage of this opportunity. Don’t walk out of here with any regrets, and so I just couldn’t be more excited for them to do it.”

Haslett was able to get on the board at the end of the third quarter to make it an 8-6 game, but that would be the final goal of the game. Okemos held the Vikings to one goal in the final three quarters and claims its first CAAC title since 2016.

“We left everything on the field after that (the first quarter). I think we started rallying as a team. Everyone started scoring together and it felt like every other game, it felt like a family,” Chermak said.

After losing two of its first three games of the season and being forced into a mid-season pause due to COVID-19, the Chiefs appear to have gotten hot at the right time.

“It’s definitely a very sweet feeling,” Okemos senior goalie, Preston Stelljes said. “We have this shirt ‘The Grateful’, and that’s really how I feel about this year is just grateful for everything we’ve been able to accomplish. I’m grateful to even have a season this year and play with my friends one last time.”

Okemos will host Ypsilanti Lincoln to begin the regional tournament, on May 21 at 6 p.m.

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