Nike/US Lacrosse South Region Report
by Laurel Pfahler | LaxMagazine.com
Top PerformersCorey Etcheverry, St. Andrew's (Fla.)
The senior goalkeeper had 17 saves in a 13-11 loss to Timon-St. Jude (N.Y.), keeping the game close throughout. It was the most saves he's had in a game since stopping 17 of 23 by Lake Highland Prep (Fla.) on March 1. Etcheverry has a .636 save percentage and has allowed 6.9 goals against this season.
Robert Mencke, Highland Park (Texas)
The junior midfielder scored twice and set up the game-winning goal in a 7-6 victory over Dallas Jesuit (Texas). Mencke, a Harvard commit, opened the scoring and tied the game at 5-5 in the third quarter before assisting Bryce Green on the final goal with 3:32 left.
Dalton LeMaster, Ponte Vedra (Fla.)
The senior midfielder scored a combined nine goals and had five assists during the Sharks' first three games in April. He had a team-high four goals and three assists against Hagerty (Fla.) on April 5, and he chipped in two goals and one assist in an 11-10 win over Lake Brantley (Fla.) on April 9 before contributing three goals and an assist in a 19-3 rout of Flagler Palm Coast (Fla.) on April 12. LeMaster is headed to Ohio Wesleyan University next year.
Games to Watch
Lassiter (Ga.) at McCallie (Tenn.) – April 27
Lassiter (10-2) dropped out of the rankings after an up-and-down game against Walton (Ga.), which handed it in an 8-7 upset loss, but the Trojans have a chance to prove themselves against No. 7 McCallie. Lassiter beat the Blue Tornado 11-7 last year and already has beaten three other Georgia opponents. McCallie already has wins over three other Georgia teams, including Milton, which beat Lassiter 14-12 on March 1 and lost to the Tornado 13-12 in overtime on April 12.
St. Mark's (Texas) at Highland Park (Texas) – April 18
St. Mark's (12-3) was previously ranked in the South, but the Lions dropped out with three-straight losses in late March. Now, they appear to be back on track after avenging a loss to Episcopal Dallas with a 16-9 win on April 13, and Highland Park is the last test before the postseason. The Fighting Scots are riding a 12-game win streak into the final week of the regular season.
1. St. Andrew's (Fla.), 14-3
The Scots suffered their third loss of the season against an out-of-state opponent, losing 13-11 to unranked Timon-St. Jude (N.Y.) after giving up two goals in the last 32 seconds. But, they haven't lost to a Florida opponent since the 2011 state championship when Lake Highland Prep (Fla.) stunned the Scots 11-10, and both of their other losses were to teams ranked in the Top 25 national poll. Conor Whipple leads the team with 65 goals, 24 assists, and Grant Mahler has a team-high 77 ground balls while also winning 62.2 percent of the 156 face-offs he's taken. St. Andrew's opens postseason play April 16 in the District 24 tournament.
2. The Woodlands (Texas), 16-0
The Highlanders move up one spot with the help of former No. 2 Dallas Jesuit losing to defending state champion Highland Park (Texas), a team whose only loss was to the The Woodlands back in February. The Woodlands, who plays a Texas-only schedule, also owns wins over 2012 Final Four team St. John's (Texas) and Cy-Fair (12-5), and more recently beat 11-win Westlake (Texas) 12-5 with the help of Cameron Babin's seven takeaways and Adam Lowell's team-high three goals.
3. Highland Park (Texas), 12-1
The Fighting Scots' 7-6 win over Dallas Jesuit (Texas) proved them worthy of a higher ranking, as they move up from the No. 7 spot. Highland Park lost to Dallas Jesuit 14-7 during the 2012 regular season, and then upset the Rangers in a rematch during the state semifinals before going on to win the title. The two teams very well could meet again this postseason. Highland Park's only loss is to The Woodlands 3-2 in its season opener, and the Scots have four wins over out-of-state opponents, including Memphis University School (Tenn.), Rockhurst Jesuit (Kansas) and previously-ranked Lake Norman (N.C.).
4. Jupiter (Fla.), 15-2
Since losing back-to-back close games to St. Andrew's (Fla.) and Vero Beach (Fla.) in mid-March, the Warriors have won eight straight heading into their district tournament. The stretch includes wins over two other quality South Florida opponents who own 12-2 records: No. 8 St. Thomas Aquinas and Benjamin. Jupiter's defense has been rock-solid all season, only allowing Vero Beach to score in double digits in a 10-8 loss. Freshman Viper Scheele saved 11 of 15 shots in a 6-4 win over Benjamin on April 3 for a 73 percent save rate.
5. Dallas Jesuit (Texas), 11-2
The Rangers dropped from the No. 2 spot after suffering a 7-6 loss to Highland Park (Texas) on April 13, a game that went back and forth the entire way. Their only other loss was by two goals to nationally-ranked Gilman (Md.) in the King of Spring Classic – the Rangers' third game in three days after beating two of the top teams in North Carolina. Dallas Jesuit, which has six seniors signed to Division I colleges, is led by midfielder Garrett Van de Ven (Duke signee) and goalie Dan Morris (Maryland).
6. Lake Highland Prep (Fla.), 13-5
The Highlanders stayed put despite suffering a fifth loss that came at the hands of nationally-ranked Calvert Hall (Md.), 10-6, on April 2. Lake Highland bounced back by beating three of Florida's Top 10 teams, starting with a rout of Bartram Trail 21-7 and ending with a 15-9 win over Lake Brantley for its second loss of the season. The other teams to beat the Highlanders include South Region-ranked St. Andrew's (Fla.) and Jupiter (Fla.), and national No. 1 Boys' Latin (Md.), 13-9 – a closer score than eight of Boys' Latin's other opponents. Clay Phillips paces the team with 60 goals and 19 assists, while Max Parker is winning 73.4 percent of face-offs.
7. McCallie (Tenn.), 12-1
The Blue Tornado had a tough time with two of Georgia's top teams during the Legacy Cup on April 12-13, but came out with 13-12 wins in overtime in both games against two-loss Centennial (Ga.) and ranked Milton (Ga.), the host of the event. McCallie is 4-1 against out-of-state opponents and has won five-straight games since suffering its lone loss to nationally-ranked Calvert Hall (Md.).
8. St. Thomas Aquinas (Fla.), 12-2
The Raiders closed the regular-season with four-straight wins after suffering back-to-back losses to Jupiter (Fla.) and Lake Highland (Fla.). They outscored their opponents 65-14 during the last four games, including a 15-7 win over Milton (Ga.), and have only given up 65 goals all season. St. Thomas is favored to win its district tournament as none of the other teams have come within 16 goals of the Raiders.
9. Milton (Ga.), 11-3
A loss to St. Thomas Aquinas (Fla.) on March 30 turned into a three-game losing streak for the Eagles, but one of those losses was to unbeaten Pittsford (N.Y.) and the other was a 13-12 overtime loss to No. 7 McCallie (Tenn.) in the opener to Milton's sixth annual Legacy Cup on April 12-13. Milton redeemed itself with a 14-12 win over previous No. 10 Lake Norman, the defending North Carolina state champion, to wrap up the Legacy Cup with a 1-1 record.
10. Ponte Vedra (Fla.), 16-2
The Sharks have won nine straight since their disappointing 9-8 loss to unranked Maclay (Fla.) on March 16 and enter the Florida postseason with some confidence. During the late-season run, Ponte Vedra handed Lake Brantley (Fla.) its first of what now is two losses, 11-10 in overtime on April 9. Cody Legaza scored the game-winner, while R.J. Garcia had three goals in regulation. The Sharks also have a 12-7 win over Cannon School, one of the top teams in North Carolina.
News and Notes
It's no surprise Keith Tintle is finding success in his first year coaching The Woodlands (Texas).
He and defensive coordinator Al Christopher coached many of the current players when they were on the junior high team, which the two coaches guided for 10 years.
"This is our first year taking over, but we know these guys," Tintle said. "We're kind of going back to what our successes were when they were younger. We play a bunch of sets, we're scoring a lot of goals, but our defensive side has been the key to our success."
The Highlanders (16-0) have allowed more than five goals in a game just once — in a 17-7 win over Houston Christian — with players such as Kyle Glaesmann, Cameron Babin, Clayton Lowell and goalie Hayden Stanifer leading the way.
However, Tintle said the offense is starting to catch up. The Woodlands has scored 12 goals or more in seven-straight games since earning consecutive 7-5 wins during a trip to Dallas in early March. Several players contribute to what Tintle called an "equal opportunity offense," with Michigan commit Sean McCanna, Adam Lowell, Ben Lipscomb, Brian Welling, Gus Pinsoneault, Anthony Good, Jake Williams and Ryan Clay among the mainstays.
Now that Tintle has seen what the Highlanders can do, he said it would be a disappointment not to see a deep run in the playoffs, something The Woodlands has fallen short on in the past.
"There was a point after we took a trip to Dallas where we thought, 'Did we do too much too early or is it going to pay off?'" Tintle said. "We beat St. John's right after that, 13-4, and that was where the kids started to believe the work was worth it and we could be a good team.
"The last few years the team has been getting knocked out in regionals, so we're trying to stay humble and move on. We're going to have to play one of those Dallas teams in our region, and they are very, very good up there. Hopefully, we've created a lot of confidence in the team and hopefully we can bring that to the playoffs."
Managing the Clock
Milton (Ga.) assistant coach Graham Hirst said the difference between the Eagles' win over Lake Norman (N.C.) and loss against McCallie (Tenn.) was how they managed the clock in both games of the two-day Legacy Cup – an event in its sixth year.
The Eagles were up by two with four minutes to play against McCallie but did a poor job keeping possession and chewing time off the clock, Hirst said, and the Blue Tornado took advantage to rally and eventually win 13-12 in overtime.
Milton put that lesson to practice the next day against Lake Norman and closed out a 14-12 win.
"Both games were fairly similar and back and forth," Hirst said. "The difference was ... against Lake Norman, we were able to manage the clock and seal the win."
Milton was missing four starters for various reasons, but saw players like Nick Newell and Bennett Mauer step up for a depleted midfield. Newell had four goals against McCallie, and Mauer chipped in three goals and two assists against Lake Norman.
Piecing the puzzle together
It's been an interesting season in Florida, where many of the top teams aside from St. Andrew's (Fla.) have beaten opponents they weren't expected to and then lost to schools they weren't supposed to.
St. Thomas Aquinas (Fla.), Lake Highland Prep (Fla.), Jupiter (Fla.), Lake Brantley (Fla.), Ponte Vedra (Fla.), Vero Beach (Fla.) and Benjamin (Fla.) all have two or three losses to Florida teams, most of them coming from within that same mix of teams, which has made the rankings difficult to sort out.
It's also more proof of what Jupiter coach Danny Loftus said earlier this season that the playoff picture is "wide open." That will all be sorted out soon, though, as the regular-season came to an end April 13.
Note: The Nike/US Lacrosse Regional rankings will not necessarily reflect the same order as the Nike/US Lacrosse National Top 25 poll, which is voted on by US Lacrosse area representatives and Lacrosse Magazine contributors, who compile the regional rankings.