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Boys Lacrosse: Top teams a mystery as season begins

March 23, 2013|By DANIEL KAUFFMAN | kauffman@herald-mail.com
  • Washington County Preps Previews
Washington County Preps Previews

While North Hagerstown is clearly the team to beat among Washington County girls lacrosse squads in 2013, there is no such sure thing among the county’s boys teams.

The top county team by record in 2012 — Smithsburg at 8-5 — has two Herald-Mail All-County first team honorees back in juniors Josh Thomas and Kyle Geblein, but must replace five starters and has a smaller squad than usual, making depth a potential issue.

“It’s always an experiment when you have people in there who haven’t played varsity before,” Leopards coach Joe Dietrich said. “I think we’re going to be in good shape as long as we don’t have a bunch of injuries.”

North Hagerstown (4-9 in 2012) returns 2012 Herald-Mail county player of the year Brandon Brown and first-teamer Brad Taman, but the Hubs must replace six starters.

“I think we will do well as long as we can play as a team,” North coach Hammond Urner said. “We don’t have a superstar this year or any one guy to rely on, and since we’re young we have to learn quickly, but we’ll set the bar high and hope for good things.”

Boonsboro (4-10 in 2012) is entering just its second season at the varsity level, but the Warriors have nine starters back — eight of them seniors with four years in the program — and could be set to mount a challenge.

“It absolutely is a big step forward,” Boonsboro coach Brett Briggs said. “The youth program is real strong, I believe there’s 125 kids in it, and it’s time for the varsity to take the next step up.”

South Hagerstown (0-12 in 2012) is still trying to get its program on solid footing. The Rebels have eight starters back and should improve this season.

The two teams that might be best positioned for big things in 2013 are the county’s two private school programs in Saint James and St. Maria Goretti.

The Saints (8-9 in 2012) have nine starters back — including All-County first-teamers Leighton Younger and Kyle Neale.

“I’m excited. This is finally the group of guys that I think of as my guys,” said Steve Lachut, entering his third season as Saint James’ head coach. “The guys before have played for other coaches, whereas these guys know what I want to run, and now we’re not just teaching, we’re refining, which is huge.”

The Gaels (7-10 in 2012) have all 10 starters back and appear solid in all areas — especially on defense with All-County first-teamer Morgan Kenworthy and goalkeeper Mike Fairley, who plans to play at Susquehanna University.

“That defensive unit will be the backbone of our success and allow us to continue to grow and develop on offense, because there’s times it’s five sophomores and a junior (on attack), so the offense will have to continue to develop,” Goretti coach Keith Reitenbach said.

Boonsboro

The Warriors will be led by a pair of seniors who were stars on the football field and bring many of those gifts to the lacrosse field, in midfielder Justin Jardeleza and defender Ian McMillen.

“Ian and Justin are two real solid athletes,” Briggs said. “Justin’s a really vocal leader and the tenacity that he brings to football is exactly what he brings to lacrosse. He has a great shot and can work open to get the shot. Ian, just like football as a linebacker, he can close on the ballhandler and is a real physical player.”

Six other seniors who started in 2012 are back — Reiker Bowles and Rex Legore on attack, Caleb Grove and Tommy Prunty in midfield, and Sam Angle and Sebastian Walton on defense. Sophomore Alex Pizarro also returns in goal.

“They’re a really good bunch of kids. They’ve been working hard through practice and there’s some expectations going right now,” Briggs said. “Reiker and Rex are all-around great stickhandlers. ... Alex is a phenomenal goalie. Last year he kept the team in a lot of games and held it together with our defense still learning.”

North Hagerstown

Brown, a senior, is the anchor for the Hubs. He had 25 goals and 15 assists last season, played solid defense and won 58 percent of his faceoffs. He’ll play for Albright College, an NCAA Division III program, next year.

Other returning starters are senior attacker Drew Brooks, senior midfielder Kyle Hewlett and junior goalkeeper Brian Davis. Senior Brad Taman will step in as a key piece of the defense.

“Brad is kind of a team leader, a really coachable kid who has just really come on in the offseason and dedicated himself to getting better,” Urner said. “Kyle’s an incredible athlete and he should hopefully step up and be a real force for us. Drew should do a nice job on attack and help our offense.”

Returning players who are stepping into starting roles include junior attacker Reed Jimenez, senior midfielder Reggie Daniel and junior defender Orin Kuehl. Two sophomore newcomers — attacker Dylan Brown and sophomore Nick Patterson — will see plenty of action.

“We’re really young on the defensive side of the ball,” Urner said. “I think it’s going to take some time before we hit our stride, but that’s OK. You have these years. The competition level is getting better in the county.”

Saint James

Younger, a senior attacker, had 20 goals in 2012, while Neale, a senior midfielder, added 12 goals and 20 assists while corralling 64 ground balls for the Saints.

“Kyle and Leighton saw significant time as sophomores. They know the system and how we do things here,” Lachut said. “Kyle is an elite athlete who could very well go on to be a very talented college player. He’s as dedicated as anybody as far as getting better at lacrosse. Leighton’s just a great leader, one of our better shooters and a kid who goes as hard as anybody.”

Other returning starters are junior attacker Max Brady, junior midfielders Jake Thompson and Justin Pank, senior defender Henry Smith, junior defender Brayden Bereznay, sophomore defender James McElroy (who played as a long-stick midfielder last year) and junior goalkeeper Will Smith.

Stepping into starting roles are seniors Austin Fahey in attack and John Stephens as the long-stick midfielder.

“We have a lot of guys who could be key contributors,” Lachut said. “We won’t have many freshmen or sophomores on varsity.”

Smithsburg

Thomas (attack) and Geblein (defense) will anchor the Leopards on opposite ends of the field, while the other three returning starters are midfielders — senior Travis Leopold and sophomores Ryan Milligan and Garrett Brenk.

Other returning varsity players are senior attacker Donovan Lawrence, junior attackers Garrett Ghafir and Ryan Karroll, senior midfielder Ryan Kreun, junior midfielder Justin Buckley and sophomore midfielder John Wagner.

Two sophomore newcomers — Connor McNairn and Will Ewing — will start on defense. Ewing missed last season with an injury. Junior Zach Schaeffer will start in goal.

“This is the best stickhandling team I’ve had the last few years. Their skills are advanced compared to some teams in recent years,” Dietrich said. “Once we see them play, we’ll know what we need to do and make adjustments, switch the lineup around if necessary, but it looks like it will be pretty good the way it is.”

South Hagerstown

The goal for this year’s Rebels is to learn how to play as a team with a common goal rather than as individuals with individual goals.

Seven of the eight returning starters are juniors — attacker Jordan Foster, midfielders Noah Wright, Craig Coffin and Tyler Bradshaw, defenders Austin Warren and Travis Haley, and goalkeeper Garry Robinson. Sophomore attacker Cole Barnhart also started in 2012.

Returning and stepping into starting roles are senior attacker Mike Rodriguez and senior midfielders Chris Rhinehart and Desmond Ingram.

Newcomers who could make an impact include sophomore midfielders Josiah Johnson, Colby Myers (long stick) and Dan Stewart, sophomore defender Lon Branham and freshman midfielder Mack Tallant.

St. Maria Goretti

Kenworthy and Fairley provide the Gaels with a solid base in the back, while junior Matt Casto and sophomore Mike Ewing have already shown their abilities on attack. Casto scored 14 goals and Ewing added 11 in Goretti’s first three games — two of them wins.

“Mike Fairley is the base of all our success. He did a tremendous job last year allowing us to win some games that we scored very few goals in. That’s really where it all starts,” Reitenbach said. “I think Mike Ewing is the best sophomore player in the county. He’s going to take a big step up this year and continue to get better for years to come.”

The Gaels’ midfield will feature senior Wyatt Derr, junior Jordan Patterson and sophomores Graham Horst, Will Spinnler, Jake Kline and newcomer Will Snyder. Seniors Mike Smith, Mike DiMercurio and Andrew Ambroz will play defense. Senior John Martin will help the attack.

“We really like our defensive unit,” Reitenbach said. “All of our midfielders play offense and defense.”

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