Nonstop snow on the East Coast may state otherwise but don’t be mistaken, high school lacrosse season has arrived. With several teams’ openers just days away, it’s time to look at some of the best teams in North America, led by the No. 1 ranked Gonzaga Purple Eagles of DC.
Check back in the coming days for a look at more of the teams ranked in the preseason edition of the Top 25, which will run on every Wednesday along with regional top 10’s.
1. Gonzaga (D.C.), 16-5
With all but one starter returning, 16 total Division I commits and five straight WCAC titles, it’s easy to want to buy stock in the Purple Eagles. Experiencing growing pains early on last year, Casey O’Neill’s squad shook off four non-conference losses in March to win 10 of their final 11 games. Gonzaga will have another extremely daunting schedule that features SIX? preseason Top 25 teams with no true home games all year due to construction work. Firepower is ever-present at attack with Maryland signee Timmy Monahan and 6’5, 310-pound Alabama football recruit Richie Petitbon, who combined for 131 points last spring. Depth is plentiful at midfield, where Top 75 juniors Nick McEvoy (Penn State) and Landon transfer Sam Offutt (Virginia) will do the dirty work at the face-off X. Dartmouth-bound goalie George Christopher, a three-year starter, will be protected by a stout defense led by acclaimed senior cover man Michael Borda, who is headed to Michigan in the fall. Considering their embarrassment of riches and model of success, the Purple Eagles can count on receiving everybody’s best shot.
2. Haverford (Pa.), 20-6
John Nostrant is no stranger to high expectations and rosters filled to the brim with players committed to a who’s who of the most reputable programs in Division I. Once again, the Fords will prepare themselves for the Inter-Ac tournament (and an intriguing end of year hosting of Culver on May 22nd) with the most challenging non-conference schedule in the nation. At the midfield, they’ll be able to go three midfields deep without much drop off at all, led by a dangerous first group of No. 10 senior Drew Supinski (Hopkins), top-ranked junior Dox Aitken (Virginia) and senior Brandon Shima (Michigan), a natural attackman. A formidable face-off trio of seniors will look to get give possessions to a formidable offense quarterbacked by Penn State-bound Grant Ament, one of the area’s best. Senior cover man Noah Lejman (Penn) boosts a defensive unit hurt by graduation – Nostrant points out that his defense has looked better than expected this preseason. Returning starting goalie Alex DeMarco (Penn) is highly capable of making enough stops between the pipes, though he’s being pushed by sophomore lefty Parker Henderer, a Cornell verbal. If The Fords can survive a brutal 25-game regular season schedule, ignore the hype and play unselfish lacrosse, they’ll capture yet another Inter-Ac crown.
3. Brunswick (Conn.), 15-3
Accumulating a 28-6 record over the last two seasons, the Bruins are ready to take another step forward in the NE West after sharing their first-ever title a year ago. Graduating face-off middie Alex Kelly (Dartmouth) and top-ranked goalie Tommy Heidt (Michigan), however juniors John Fox (Virginia) and Jack Stephenson (Georgetown) are highly capable of filling those respective holes. At the midfield, No. 2 junior Reilly Walsh (Duke) exploded with a 40-goal campaign and will pave the way for an offensive overflowing with depth and potential. Senior Lazare Zoungrana (Virginia) will look to wreak havoc with his athleticism at LSM while Dartmouth-bound Austin Meachem, one of the nation’s more underrated defensemen, is an important piece as well. Head coach David Bruce put together a loaded schedule that includes trips to Malvern Prep, Haverford and New Canaan in the first month. Elder statesmen like midfielder Charlie Cobb (Vermont) and attackmen Marshall Dickson (Bucknell) and Jack Knight (Vermont) will be vital in how the Bruins fare down the stretch.
4. Smithtown East (N.Y.), 16-4
Expectations are sky-high in Smithtown after the young Bulls won the program’s first Suffolk County title then came within a goal of knocking off eventual state champ Massapequa. Jason Lambert’s team brings back gobs of proven offensive talent starting with RR’s No. 6 senior Brian Willetts (Notre Dame), a matchup nightmare due to his size and cannon of a shot. Stud senior athlete John Daniggelis (Yale) notched over 50 points last year and will lead the offense from the midfield, while junior Dan Rooney (Ohio State) is a skilled lefty finisher down on the attack. No. 2 sophomore Conner DeSimone, a Hopkins verbal, is another returning starter and will kept on the field a lot, even if it’s at attack. Though defense might be somewhat of a worry, the ball won’t be on that end too often: the Bulls have face-off stalwart Gerard Arceri (Penn State), who won 81 percent as a soph. Marist-bound James Sarrocco will be the leader on D, covering opponents’ top option and making life easier on first-year starting goalie Sean Turner, who will fuel transition with his outlet passes.
5. Culver Military Academy (Ind.), 23-0
The Eagles waved goodbye to a transformational senior class that included four Power 100 recruits among six starters. However, to say that Culver will be going through a rebuilding year would be disrespectful to the talent pool that Jon Posner has at his disposal. Offensively, slick lefty Ethan Walker (Denver) returns after putting up 99 goals as a sophomore and will team up with another dangerous Canadian shooter in Princeton-bound Dawson McKenzie. At the midfield, junior Ryan Prior (Michigan) has become a leader in the offseason and will be relied on along with two other versatile middies in sophomore Ryan Hallenbeck (Notre Dame) and junior Army verbal Anthony George. Though All-American LSM Matt Neufeldt has moved on to contribute at Maryland, the close defense returns, starting with steady senior David Dilts, a Syracuse signee. Alex Johnson (Loyola) and Jacob Kanak (Notre Dame) are two of the best in their class, with Johnson likely bumping up to LSM due to his athleticism. The face-off X and goalie position are up for grabs, though junior Alec van de Bovenkamp (Furman) might have the edge over sophomore Matt Schmidt (Notre Dame), a transfer from Ohio. Starting on the 21st, the Eagles will face three Top 25 opponents in their five-game, six-day East Coast trip that will dictate how good they’re capable of being in 2015.
6. St. Paul’s (Md.), 12-7
Graduation losses hurt the Crusaders, however they return plenty of scorers plus steady three-year starting keeper AJ Barretto (Army), who will ease the pain of a depleted defense. Heady attackman Carter Flaig (Princeton) will lead a dynamic offense that also features Carolina-bound pair Alex McGovern and Mitch Gordon, a junior poised to breakout, among many others.
7. McDonogh (Md.), 15-5
Returning key players at the face-off X and goalie, seniors Jordy Elardo (Bucknell) and Jacob Stover (Loyola), automatically gives the Eagles an edge over much of the league. They lose their top attackman, midfielder and defenseman, however Robert Clark (Georgetown), Robby Black (Penn State) and junior Arman Medghalchi (Princeton) will pick up the slack at those respective positions.
8. Boys’ Latin (Md.), 18-0
A Stanwick-led senior class that helped the Lakers finish 37-1 over two seasons has moved on but the Lakers are highly capable under head coach Bob Shriver. Seniors Patrick Spencer (Loyola) and Devin Shewell (Syracuse) will be essential to the attack’s success, working with left-handed junior Logan Wisnauskas (Syracuse). Senior d-man Dylan Gaines (Denver) and junior netminder Jack Pezzulla (UNC) boost a team that will need midfielders to step up.
9. Hill Academy (Ont.), 13-3
Brodie Merrill has high hopes for this year’s edition of Hill Academy, an offensively loaded and experienced squad that will have their mettle tested with another challenging East Coast trip in March. Well renowned junior Jeff Teat (Cornell) will control things from X, while big, scoring attackman Jake Fox (Hopkins) will move up to middie in his senior year and poses a tremendous threat. Defensively, junior Jeff Henrich (Ohio State) is capable of shutting down the opponent’s top option.
10. Avon Old Farms (Conn.), 16-3
Seniors and a phenomenal class of postgrads pave the way for a Winged Beaver team with game-changers at each position. On the defensive end, Tyson Bomberry (Syracuse) and Theo Dol (Virginia) are experienced and well-regarded seniors and will help protect PG goalie Tucker Gillman (Georgetown), the likely starter out of Pittsburgh. Look for crafty attackman Mikey Herring (Virginia) to lead a potent offense that features a talented group of postgrad midfielders.
11. Chaminade (N.Y.), 13-3
12. Darien (Conn.), 23-0
13. Malvern Prep (Pa.), 24-0
14. Landon (Md.), 18-4
15. Massapequa (N.Y.), 19-2
16. Georgetown Prep (Md.), 19-1
17. Delbarton (N.J.), 21-3
18. Greenwich (Conn.), 20-3
19. St. Anthony’s (N.Y.), 13-5
20. Ward Melville (N.Y.), 12-6
21. St. Mary’s (Md.), 11-6
22. Salisbury (Conn.), 11-5
23. Garden City (N.Y.), 15-3
24. Bronxville (N.Y.), 18-6
25. Bergen Catholic (N.J.), 19-1