Nike/US Lacrosse Midwest Region Report
by Jonah Rosenblum | LaxMagazine.com
Top PerformersBrooks Armitage, Eden Prairie (Minn.)
Long recognized as one of the top players in the state of Minnesota, Armitage proved he's one of the state's most clutch players as well, scoring three goals and three assists in Eden Prairie's pivotal victory over Eagan (Minn.). His biggest goal came after the Eagles' lead was cut down to a single goal with eight and a half minutes remaining. Less than a minute later, Armitage responded with a score of his own.
Ryan McNamara, Eastview (Minn.)
The Marquette commit posted a hat trick in Eastview's victory over Eagan (Minn.). But it wasn't the total so much as the timing that stood out. With the score knotted at one, McNamara tallied goals to end the first quarter and to begin the second, allowing the Lightning to build up a large early lead. He also played a role in Eastview's 5-0 run to end the third quarter.
A.J. Fish, Grayslake North (Ill.)
Also a star for the Knights on the gridiron and the hardwood, the Virginia commit has been devastating on the pitch this season, tallying 56 goals and 53 assists, according to the Illinois High School Lacrosse Association. He has posted 85 ground balls as well. For Fish, who considered carrying his football career into college, a bright future in lacrosse remains.
Games to Watch
Eden Prairie (Minn.) at Eastview (Minn.) – May 14
At long last, we get a rematch of last year's state final – and perhaps a preview of this year's state final too. Eastview and Eden Prairie have both started their seasons with long winning streaks and particularly if they meet in the postseason, it could be interesting to see how playing each other twice in such a short period of time affects the rivalry. "That will be interesting because I think going into that game, there's a possibility that we'll both be undefeated and we'll both have our section playoff kind of wrapped up as far as seeding goes," Eastview coach Tim Roche said, "so I don't think either one of us will want to win by more than three but not lose by more than three, and so I don't know how much we'll show each other in that one."
Loyola Academy (Ill.) at Libertyville (Ill.) – May 14
Libertyville has had itself a good season, defeating Grayslake North (Ill.), Saint Viator (Ill.), Lake Zurich (Ill.) and Stevenson (Ill.), but the Wildcats have lost three of their last six and could use a pick-me-up. There would be no better pick-me-up than defeating one of the state's elite teams in Loyola Academy. If the game is close, don't bet against the Wildcats. They have four one-goal wins already this season. They also have lost just once at home.
1. Culver Academy (Ind.), 16-2
The Eagles have played 10 straight games against teams that currently boast winning records. And no one in the Midwest has come close to beating them. After downing New Trier (Ill.) by five goals, Culver Academy defeated Mason 20-8, Carmel 23-3 and Archbishop Moeller 19-3. The Eagles have scored at least 14 goals in each of their last six games.
2. Upper Arlington (Ohio), 14-1
The Golden Bears have ridden a stingy defense to success all season. They have yet to surrender more than six goals in a game and have surrendered just 49 goals in 15 games this season, for an average of 3.3 goals per game. They'll put that streak to the test on April 18 against a high-scoring Culver offense that has scored no fewer than nine goals in a game this season.
3. New Trier (Ill.), 14-2
Stevenson (Ill.) ended New Trier's recent run of dominance, giving the Trevians plenty of trouble in their tight 9-7 victory. The Trevians outscored their previous five opponents, including good Libertyville (Ill.) and Lake Forest (Ill.) teams, 83-15. New Trier has a good test upcoming in Archbishop Moeller (Ohio), who should help ensure that the Trevians are ready for the postseason.
4. Loyola Academy (Ill.), 11-3
The Ramblers have yet to surrender more than six goals to an in-state foe. Always kept in the game by their defense, the Ramblers rely on their offense to deliver the big goals needed to secure a state championship. They scored just five against West Genesee (N.Y.), four against New Trier (Ill.), nine against below-.500 Wheaton South (Ill.) and most recently five against Glenbrook North (Ill.).
5. Brother Rice (Mich.), 13-3
The Warriors no longer have much of a claim to regional supremacy. After battling neck and neck with Culver Academy (Ind.) in 2012, Brother Rice was very nearly doubled up on in their sole meeting this season. A 14-9 loss to Upper Arlington (Ohio) made the same point. But make no mistake about it, the Warriors are still a very, very good team, capable of beating anyone, as shown in their wins over New Trier (Ill.), Worthington Kilbourne (Ohio) and Dublin Jerome (Ohio).
6. Cathedral (Ind.), 15-1
The Irish followed up on their rousing victory over Carmel (Ind.) with five easy wins. They have surrendered just 21 goals over that stretch and have begun their season-ending three-game road trip in style, with a 16-4 victory over Westfield (Ind.) and a 13-3 win over Park Tudor (Ind.). After they were held to single-digit scoring totals in consecutive games in mid-April, the Irish have reached double digits in every game since.
7. Eastview (Minn.), 7-0
The Lightning are once again off to a perfect start, but they face one of their biggest tests yet in Lakeville North (Minn.). The Panthers have struggled this season, but still, they were responsible for the Lightning's only loss in 2012. Blake (Minn.) comes up shortly thereafter and then Eden Prairie (Minn.) caps off a tough end-of-season slate for Eastview.
8. Eden Prairie (Minn.), 10-0
Ben Campbell has helped the Eagles secure possession with 58 ground balls and 75 face off wins, both of which rank fifth in the state, while Brooks Armitage has been an elite scorer per usual for Eden Prairie with 23 goals and 18 assists. With Armitage and Campbell leading the way, the Eagles have begun their season with 10 straight victories, including consecutive wins over Wayzata (Minn.) and Eagan (Minn.).
9. Glenbrook North (Ill.), 13-3
Losses to unranked teams never help, and certainly Glenbrook North's loss to Saint Viator (Ill.) has kept it from climbing up the ladder, but it's worth noting that the Spartans did take the game to overtime on the road. They also came within a goal of Loyola Academy (Ill.) on the road. How Glenbrook North responds to its first extended slump against a good Lake Forest team will be worth watching.
10. Mason (Ohio), 12-2
The Comets nearly kept their perfect record intact through a long road trip. They narrowly defeated both Hudson (Ohio) and Upper Arlington (Ohio), two teams with a combined record of 28-2 in 2013, and whipped Mariemont (Ohio). But Carmel ended Mason's winning streak in a tight one-goal affair and Culver Academy (Ind.) scored 20 on the Comets to drop Mason several spots in the rankings.
News and Notes
Eastview might have defeated Eden Prairie in last year's state final, but that doesn't mean that coach Tim Roche is ready to call the Eagles his team's biggest rival.
Instead, Roche said that his team's biggest rival sits seven miles away – with only a short drive, mainly down Pilot Knob Road, separating them from Eagan (Minn.).
"They're probably our biggest rival because they're our cross-town rival," Roche said. "We face them twice a year pretty much the last five years, because we face them in the regular season and eventually in the section finals every year."
The Lightning have dominated the rivalry of late, but the games are plenty close, including this year when Eastview's 12-5 lead nearly evaporated before Roche's very eyes.
"Eagan is a great team. It's always a battle," Roche said. "They did a good job getting a few goals in. We did a poor job with our stall offense so it finished up at 12-9 but they were missing some key players. They were missing two of their stud midfielders so we expect a hell of a battle every time we play them."
Jeremy LeClaire has won the battle for now.
The sophomore goalkeeper is currently the starter for undefeated Eastview, but junior Ben Taschner isn't far behind, according to Lightning coach Tim Roche.
"We had to replace two senior goalies and so we've had a sophomore and a junior kind of battle it out and the sophomore is winning and doing a great job between the pipes," Roche said. "They're very close. Really, it just comes down to the greater game right now, and one goalie is better than the other. It's a very close battle."
For now, the two are splitting time, but Roche would like to see one of them seize the position before long.
"I just want to give them a fair showing," Roche said. "Practices are in the gym, and with the spring we had for the first half of the season, you can never judge a goalie on that, so I'm just letting them get outside and practice and get some first-team reps both in practice and in some games just to extend the tryout a little bit further."
LeClaire currently has 36 saves and has surrendered 31 goals for a .537 save percentage. He has played 237 minutes this season and recorded five wins.
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.