As startling as it sounds, the high school lacrosse season is here in the Mid-Atlantic. Our brethren down south got their season cracking weeks ago while Marylanders plowed and shoveled gobs of snow to clear turf fields. Over the past few days, scrimmages have taken place (all with a grain of salt, of course) as teams prepare for the real thing, as a handful of teams will get actual games going this weekend. In a new series called ‘Grading Period’ Powered by Fed Thrill, have a look below at analysis of each team’s out-of-conference schedules. In addition, check back later this week for Recruiting Rundown’s preseason Top 25 national rankings.
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BOYS’ LATIN LAKERS (15-5 in ’15)
OOC Grade: A-
Circle This: March 29 at Gonzaga (D.C.)
Dropped: Westminster (Ga.), Lovett (Ga.), Manhasset (N.Y.), Radnor (Pa.), South River
Breakdown: It appears as though Brian Farrell won’t be backing down from anyone in his first year steering the ship at his alma mater, following in the footsteps of Bob Shriver and his 506 career wins as head coach. Their home slate will open with a bang, hosting Brodie Merrill’s Hill Academy squad for the first time since 2013, followed by their long-standing Florida trip (interrupted last year) to face Lake Highland Prep and St. Andrew’s. Upon arrival back in Maryland, the Lakers will have several days to prepare for their annual measuring stick game with DC power Gonzaga, who topped BL 13-6 on the road last season. A showdown with senior-laden Bullis on April Fool’s Day will be another opportunity to test their mettle heading into the Lakers’ MIAA schedule set to begin on April 12th.
CALVERT HALL CARDINALS (12-6 in ’15)
OOC Grade: B
Circle This: March 17 vs. Hill Academy (Ont.)
Dropped: Cardinal Gibbons (N.C.), Cape Henry (Va.), Loyola Academy (Ill.), Calverton, Port Washington (N.Y.)
Breakdown: The Cardinals will make their annual trip down to the Brine King of Spring event in North Carolina, so they won’t exactly have the most challenging tune-ups leading up to a massive redemption game against Hill Academy, who dismantled the Cardinals 17-3 last season. Their battle with Malvern Prep (Pa.) was an overtime contest won by Calvert Hall – they’ll have to travel up to Philly to take the young Friars on March 22nd. A week later, Bryan Kelly trades Port Washington for Half Hollow Hills West (now coached by Tom Rooney, Port’s coach in 2015), an up-and-comer in Long Island’s Suffolk County. The Cardinals will also face Conestoga of Philly on the 1st at the PNC Invitational, set to go down under the lights at Loyola University’s Ridley Athletic Complex.
GILMAN GREYHOUNDS (6-8 in ’15)
OOC Grade: A
Circle This: March 29 at Haverford (Pa.)
Dropped: Malvern Prep (Pa.), Hill School (Pa.)
Breakdown: The Greyhounds are a lot lower on talent than the program is used to, though you wouldn’t think that by looking at their out of conference schedule. Tech will start with respected opponent Landon, holding a 6-4 series advantage over Bears in their last ten meetings. From there, it’s a swing of Virginia privates Collegiate, Norfolk Academy and Paul VI. The Hounds’ March 29th meeting with defending national champion Haverford (Pa.) – who they led 8-2 at home last year before losing by two goals – looks like a nice shot at an upset. Brooks Matthews has been playing Georgetown Prep and La Salle (Pa.) for quite some time, so those contests will be played on April 1st and 5th to round out Gilman’s out-of-conference slate.
LOYOLA BLAKEFIELD (9-5 in ’15)
OOC Grade: A
Circle This: April 2 vs. New Canaan (Conn.)
Dropped: Germantown Academy (Pa.), Hill School (Pa.)
Breakdown: One of four different faces at the helm in the MIAA this spring, the Ben Rubeor regime begins after the Dons were lifted to 11 wildly successful seasons and three titles under Jack Crawford. Each non-conference showdown will pose a threat, starting with undefeated Haverford (Pa.) on the road and then an anticipated Friday night matchup with Malvern Prep (Pa.) at Homewood Field that same week. The Dons will face Landon in an official game for the first time in over a decade, coming March 22nd in Bethesda. They’ll have a week to prepare for Charlottesville program St. Anne’s Belfield and an intriguing interstate battle with Chip Buzzeo and New Canaan (Conn.), a program full of Division I talent.
MCDONOGH EAGLES (14-5 in ’15)
OOC Grade: A+
Circle This: March 10 at Gonzaga (D.C.)
Dropped: Haverford (Pa.), Cardinal Gibbons (N.C.), Durham Academy (N.C.), IMG National (Fla.), Penn Charter (Pa.)
Breakdown: I consider the Eagles to be the MIAA’s favorite to win it all come May, so it’s no surprise to see Andy Hilgartner build an extremely daunting out-of-conference schedule. Though McD won’t face Haverford in a game, they’ll scrimmage this week in Philly. McDonogh will, however, open up at Gonzaga in a game that the Owings Mills school won a year ago, upsetting the preseason No. 1 squad in a stellar game. The Eagles will host Richmond power Collegiate, face Florida foes Lake Highland Prep and St. Andrew’s in 24 hours then return to prepare for another big one. March 22nd marks the start of a brutal eight-day stretch in which they’ll battle three Top 25 teams from last year in Culver (Ind.), Bullis and St. Ignatius Prep (Calif.) on the 29th. McDonogh will also play at Episcopal Academy (Pa.) on the 1st to wrap up non-league competition.
MT. ST. JOE GAELS (8-10 in ’15)
OOC Grade: B
Circle This: April 1 vs. St. Margaret’s Episcopal (Calif.)
Dropped: Charlotte Catholic (N.C.), Severna Park, Friends, Good Counsel
Breakdown: Set to begin year two under former Gael and longtime MLL All-Star Stephen Berger, Mt. St. Joe will have a strong senior class to lead them against a formidable schedule. A relatively local tune-up against St. John’s (D.C.) will kick things off before tough matchups with a pair of teams used to being in the Top 25, Canada’s Hill Academy (home) and St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes of northern Virginia (away). They’ll stay on the road for their next three contests – John Carroll, St. Mary’s Ryken, Catonsville – before resuming their once-every-two-years trip to California. Mater Dei, St. Margaret’s and Foothill are excellent programs, which should help the Gaels prepare for a big matchup with Landon on April 5th.
SPALDING CAVALIERS (5-14 in ’15)
OOC Grade: C-
Circle This: March 12 vs. DeMatha (Md.)
Dropped: Greensboro Day (N.C.), Coppell (Tex.), Good Counsel (Md.), Olentangy Liberty (Oh.), Upper Arlington (Oh.)
Breakdown: The Cavaliers have scaled back on their schedule numbers-wise after taking a beating last year, now playing fewer OOC games and staying within the state’s borders. Brian Phipps’ program will open with a big one against the WCAC’s DeMatha, who the Cavaliers defeated in a 6-3 defensive battle a year ago after losing 10-2 the previous season. Games with Calverton and Glenelg Country won’t be easy either, which will prepare Spalding for a yearly battle with Long Island’s Sachem North, who they’ve beaten in two of their last three meetings. They’ll play Annapolis and Severna Park as part of an event hosted on-campus, rounding out the schedule with a home contest against Canisius (N.Y.) and a short road trip to DC’s St. John’s.
SEVERN ADMIRALS (6-9 in ’15)
OOC Grade: C
Circle This: March 19 at McCallie (Tenn.)
Breakdown: Yet another new head coach in the league, James McNealey will inherit 19 seniors and an excellent junior class, which might help considering the Admirals went winless in conference play this year. Unfortunately, they won’t exactly be tested heading into their MIAA slate (though they’ll have a whopping 13 non-league games), sticking with in-state teams besides a spring break trip to Tennessee. Calverton will present a test in game two, as Severn knocked off the Cougars in an one-goal game last year. The contest against southern power McCallie will be by far the toughest team the Admirals will have leading up to their conference slate. Public vs. private showdowns with Severna Park (3/22 at Spalding) and Kent Island (3/29) will be pivotal for southern Maryland bragging rights.
ST. MARY’S SAINTS (12-6 in ’15)
OOC Grade: B+
Circle This: March 15 at Bullis (Md.)
Dropped: Hill Academy (Ont.), Malvern Prep (Pa.), Kent Island, Culver (Ind.), St. Anne’s Belfield (Va.)
Breakdown: The Saints’ schedule takes a significant step back after winning the MIAA championship, losing head coach Ben Rubeor to Loyola and graduating a monster senior class. Longtime assistant Victor Lilly steps in and still has some excellent tests in March, however some key opponents are no longer on the schedule. The first four games will be a load to handle, playing IAC powers Landon in Bullis on the 10th and 15th, respectively. Those matchups will be prime ‘measuring stick’ games for the Saints to see where they are after graduating so many starters. St. Joe’s Prep (Pa.) and Yorktown (N.Y.) are interesting new additions that should challenge the Saints at home. Hill School (Pa.) and in-state programs Sts. Peter & Paul and Calverton finish out the St. Mary’s out-of-conference schedule.
ST. PAUL’S CRUSADERS (13-6 in ’15)
OOC Grade: A
Circle This: March 12th vs. Haverford (Pa.)
Dropped: Paul VI (Va.), Highland Park (Tex.), Coppell (Tex.), Bullis, Calverton
Breakdown: Starting slightly earlier than usual, the Crusaders will host Paul VI (Va.) and John Carroll to prepare for a March tradition special to both programs. Haverford-St. Paul’s will be played on Saturday the 12th at Washington College, where SP coach Rick Brocato lived and played with Haverford head honcho John Nostrant in the late 80’s. A week later, the Crusies will host Hill Academy (Ont.) and Episcopal Academy (Pa.) and could easily come out 0-3, though they also have the talent to emerge undefeated. St. Paul’s will head to Harford County to play Fallston, followed by a huge bout with Georgetown Prep on the 29th and another public/private showdown with Westminster two days later. A rivalry of sorts, the Crusaders will trek to Long Island to play Garden City (N.Y.) at Manhasset HS on the 2nd, rounding out the non-league schedule with Cape Henlopen (Del.) on the 5th.