Boys Lacrosse: Top teams a mystery as season begins
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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.
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.”