Nike/US Lacrosse Northeast Region Report
by Tom Peace | LaxMagazine.com
Top PerformersMatt Koerner, St. Anthony's (N.Y.)
The Friars senior attackman is having a huge year for St. Anthony's, compiling 37 points, which is good for the Top 5 on Long Island. Koerner helped guide the Friars to a fourth-straight 2012 Long Island Class AAA CHSAA title. Koerner is committed to High Point University.
Andrew Hatton, Fairfield Prep (Conn.)
Hatton is coming off a junior campaign where the defender was named a US Lacrosse All-American. The future Michigan Wolverine can also play long-stick midfield. Hatton moves well around the crease and behind the cage and slides well. And is quick to scoop up a ground ball.
Willy Sipperly, Taft (Conn.)
After Sipperly was named a US Lacrosse All-American last season while playing for Falmouth (Maine), Falmouth head coach Mike Lebel says Sipperly may be the best lacrosse player to ever come out of Maine. The 5-foot-11, 185-pound junior middie scored 43 goals last season for Falmouth. Sipperly is committed to Virginia.
Games to Watch
Bergen Catholic (N.J.) at Chaminade (N.Y.) – May 2
The Flyers are looking to get back to the top spot in the Northeast rankings and beating a tough Bergen Catholic team would help. Even though Chaminade lost to Yorktown, the Flyers are still a high-powered offense led by Ryan Lukacovic (Virginia) and a defense led by Brian Dunne (Duke). Bergen Catholic is coming off an impressive win over Don Bosco Prep (N.J.) at MetLife Stadium in the 2013 Big City Classic, winning 16-15. Chris Blewitt (Saint Joseph's) led the Crusaders with five goals.
Duxbury (Mass.) at Lincoln-Sudbury (Mass.) – May 5
This could be a postseason preview as both these teams have the talent to go all the way. Duxbury just got bounced from the Top 10 by Niskayuna (N.Y.) this past weekend. Lincoln-Sudbury is looking to get into the Top 10 and a victory over the Dragons could do just that. The intriguing matchup going into this game is Warriors long-stick midfielder John Sexton (Notre Dame) going against CJ LoConte (Army).
1. Ward Melville (N.Y.), 12-0
The Patriots have jumped to the top spot this week after two impressive wins over Top 10 teams. Ward Melville defeated Smithtown West (N.Y.) 13-4 and Garden City (N.Y.) 7-3. The Patriots have not allowed more than seven goals all season.
2. Jamesville-DeWitt (N.Y.), 11-0
Jamesville-Dewitt keeps stringing together large-margin victories. The Rams toppled Fairport 17-9 on April 27. Through 11 games Jordan Evans (Syracuse) has accumulated 96 points (50 goals, 46 assists).
3. Niskayuna (N.Y.), 9-0
The Warriors are coming off an 11-3 win over Duxbury (Mass.), knocking the Dragons out of the Top 10 this week. Niskayuna is scoring an average of 16 goals per game this season.
4. Yorktown (N.Y.), 10-1
Yorktown pulls off the major upset by beating Chaminade (N.Y.) 12-8 on April 27. The win propels the Cornhuskers into the Top 5. Connor Vercruysse (Rutgers) has a three goal game for Yorktown. The Cornhuskers will face No. 10 Ridgefield (Conn.) on April 30.
5. Chaminade (N.Y.), 9-1
The Flyers fall down to the fifth spot this week after sustaining their first loss of the season to Yorktown. Chaminade did have an impressive win mid-week versus California powerhouse St. Ignatius Prep, winning 5-4. Ryan Lukacovic has had back-to-back three-goal games and goalie Danny Fowler made a combined 19 saves in both games.
6. St. Anthony's (N.Y.), 7-2
Since falling to Chaminade in early April the Friars have won three straight. St. Anthony's has a tough three game stretch coming up against Connecticut powers, Darien and Fairfield Prep, and then another date with No. 5 Chaminade. We will know a lot about where the Friars stand after that stretch.
7. Smithtown East (N.Y.), 10-1
The Bulls have won eight straight since losing to Ward Melville on April 3. Brian Willetts has been a force for the Bulls during the win streak with 33 points. Smithtown East has a huge game on May 4 when the Bulls play Northport (10-2).
8. Shoreham-Wading River (N.Y.), 11-0
The Wildcats enter the Top 10 this week after beating Duxbury 9-7 on April 20 and posting in-state wins over Huntington (N.Y.), Bayport-Blue Point (N.Y.) and Comsewogue (N.Y.). Tim Rotanz (Maryland) has been an assist machine for SWR this season with 36 helpers.
9. Long Beach (N.Y.), 11-0
Long Beach has been on fire this season. Dominating teams left and right. James Forkin (Syracuse) has been a lighting rod with 38 goals for the Marines. Long Beach will get a real test on April 30 when they face Garden City.
10. Ridgefield (Conn.), 9-0
Ridgefield joins the Top 10 this week with a huge 12-6 win over John Jay-Cross River on April 27. The Tigers have a date with No. 4 Yorktown on April 30, which should tell whether Ridgefield should stay in the Top 10.
News and Notes
Wellesley aims to break Curse in 2013
The Raiders lacrosse program has experienced the highs and lows. Wellesley (Mass.) went 20-4 a year ago, but fell in semifinals to Concord Carlisle to give the Raiders their seventh-straight season ending loss.
"Only one team gets to end with a win every year. And in the moment, losing that final game is always tough and heart-wrenching, " said head coach Rocky Batty. "But, man, we've had some great teams and even better young men take part in really terrific seasons over the years. We've been fortunate to play longer into June than most, and that expectation remains with us every year."
The Raiders have won five of their last six and are hitting their stride at the right time.
"We're definitely improving. But, still waiting for the really good groove – or maybe we're at the front end of it, and it'll just take a few more games to figure it all out," said Batty, who is in his sixth season as head coach. "We played some tough and experienced teams early, and I think that exposed our inexperience to start the season. The team is working hard, learning a ton of new stuff, and getting better everyday."
Wellesley is aiming to climb the mountain again this season, but the Raiders will be doing it with a new cast.
The Raiders graduated 14 seniors from last year's team, including All-American goalie Connor Darcey (Penn State), Ryan Cassidy, Oliver Saffery, and Peter Crane. But the Raiders have a great system in place, in that the players who have been playing behind the upperclassmen received tons of playing time early in their careers so that they are ready to step into the holes left by the seniors who leave.
Starting with senior goalie Mike Riskind, who served as Darcey's backup for two seasons. Batty couldn't be happier with the leadership Riskind has shown this season.
Junior defensive middie Matt Dziama is entering his third season on the varsity team and is working to grasp the offensive aspect of the position that Oliver Saffery manned so well a year ago. Batty says Dziama has moments of brilliance, and when he strings them all together, watch out.
Followed by T.J. Noonan, who Batty says is the most athletic long stick-midfielder he has coached, that includes Ryan Cassidy. Then there is third-year attackman John Caraviello who is making adjustments to being the number one guy, and senior Andrew Volkmann who does it all for the Raiders. He faces-off, plays offense, plays defense. Batty calls Volkmann a "grinder" and a "humble leader".
"We're piling up experience as quickly as we can," said Batty. "These guys are becoming veterans on the field, and I think their continued progress will serve us well. The great news is that we have a strong tradition to live up to, and to a man, our guys don't want to let our alums down."
If there is one thing Wellesley takes pride in, it's having tough defenses that communicate well. Last season the Raiders' defense held teams to fewer than 10 goals per game. Batty, who played defense for Dom Starsia at Brown, so far has been impressed with how the defense is taking shape.
"That's been a staple [at] Wellesley, and it's good to see our guys starting to get back to what we've always done well," Batty said. "That energy leads to turnovers, then transition, and then goals. It's a fun brand of lacrosse, and we enjoy it as much as our fans do!"
The Raiders have a tough road ahead with games against Framingham (Mass.) who is coming on strong this season, Braintree (Mass.), a team that is scoring lots of goals, and a Newton North (Mass.) team that has won multiple state championships.
Wellesley will close out the regular season at Bridgewater-Raynham (Mass.), an upstart program and sitting at 9-1 right now. Matt Connolly, who was the assistant coach when Batty was the head coach for Brookline (Mass.), coaches the Trojans.
The goals remain the same for the Raiders and that is to win The Bay State Conference Herget Division, which is one of the older leagues in the state.
But nothing would be sweeter than winning that final game of the season for Batty and the Raiders.
"It fuels rivalries during the regular season, and really stokes the fire in the postseason. In the past ten years, Wellesley has won seven league championships, has been to the Eastern Massachusetts Championship four times — winning it three times, and has a state championship under our belt," Batty said. "We'll get back there again, and all of that experience will help to make it meaningful when we win and will continue to set high expectations for future teams to live up to.
Dutchmen want to return to big stage
The Guilderland (N.Y.) boys' lacrosse team has won three straight and are coming off a 12-6 record in 2012. The program won 20 games in 2009 and had a below .500 season in 2011.
The Dutchmen are looking to get back to the 2009 status and head coach Sean McConaghy feels his team has the tools to have a big year.
"2011 was the only losing season we have had in the eight previous seasons I have coached at GHS and that is what motivated last years team," McConaghy said. "The kids on this team are motivated to get to the championship game again because we haven't been there since winning it in 2009."
Last season Guilderland won the Suburban Council South Championship, the Dutchmen would love to repeat as champions this season and earn a trip to the Section II Class A championship.
Seniors Stephen Polsinelli, Cody Dyer along with juniors Jake Smith, Brad Johnston, and Jeff Easley are providing the scoring for Guilderland this season.
The path to the section Class A championship will not be as grueling because rival Niskayuna (N.Y.), who has beaten Guilderland in the semifinal the past two seasons, has moved down to Class B.
Guilderland will have a huge test to end the season on May 14 when the Dutchmen face a 9-0 Shaker (N.Y.) squad.
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.