Nike/US Lacrosse South Region Report
by Laurel Pfahler | LaxMagazine.com
Devon Lewis, Lake Highland Prep (Fla.)
The senior midfielder scored the decisive goal in an 8-7 win over St. Andrew's with 6 minutes, 10 seconds left in the state championship game and also ended the Scots' final attack, jarring the ball loose from Grant Mahler with eight seconds left to secure the victory. In the third quarter, he fired up an electric crowd, scoring the first of his two goals on the night to put the Highlanders up 6-5 in the midst of a four-goal run. Lewis finished the season with 44 goals, 27 assists and 30 ground balls.
Evan Chang-Tung, St. Mark's (Texas)
The senior midfielder scored the game-tying goal with 43 seconds left in regulation of the state championship and won it in the third minute of sudden-death overtime with a shot from 15 yards out. The game's Most Valuable Player, Chang-Tung tallied three goals, one assist and one ground ball for the day and finished the season with 28 goals and nine assists.
Charlie Sikes, Episcopal Dallas (Texas)
The freshman goalie slowed the St. Mark's attack in the state championship game, finishing with 19 saves, including eight in the first 16 minutes. He also came up with a point-blank save with 1:25 remaining in the semifinals against Dallas Jesuit to keep the game tied at 5-5 before Richie Loftus scored the game winner with 11 seconds remaining.
Games to Watch
Centennial (Ga.) vs. Harrison (Ga.) – May 15
These two teams meet in the state semifinals for a chance at the championship game May 18 against either Roswell (Ga.) or Lambert (Ga.). Centennial beat Harrison 12-5 in the season opener for both teams. Harrison (11-8) beat Walton (Ga.) 8-6 in the quarterfinals on May 11, while Centennial knocked out Lassiter 13-12. The Knights didn't even make the state tournament last year, and the Hoyas lost in the second round.
McCallie (Tenn.) vs. Montgomery Bell (Tenn.) – May 17
McCallie beat Montgomery Bell 9-8 on April 26 and now looks to repeat that performance when the teams meet again in the state semifinals. The Big Red is 11-6 but has lost to just two Tennessee opponents, and McCallie is undefeated against in-state competition. Both teams made the Final Four last year but lost in the semifinals. Montgomery Bell lost 5-4 in double overtime against Memphis University School, and the Blue Tornado lost 6-5 to eventual champion Brentwood LC.
1. Lake Highland Prep (Fla.), 20-5
Season Complete: The Highlanders won 15 of their last 16 games and capped the season with their second state title in three years, defeating St. Andrew's (Fla.) in the championship game. The Highlanders, who also won the 2011 title against the Scots, lost to St. Andrew's earlier in the year, during a slow 5-4 start, which also included losses to South Florida teams Jupiter and Benjamin and former national No. 1 Boys' Latin (Md.). Their fifth loss — a 10-6 decision against nationally-ranked Calvert Hall (Md.) — came in the middle of their late-season turnaround. Clay Phillips finished with 71 goals, 32 assists and Devon Lewis added 44 goals and 27 assists; Casey Irish and Billy Roll paced the defense with 57 ground balls each and a combined 32 takeaways and Max Parker won 328 of 441 face-offs to finish with a 74 percent win rate.
2. St. Mark's (Texas), 18-3
Season Complete: The Lions ended their season with 11-straight wins, including an overtime victory against Episcopal Dallas (Texas) for their first state title in program history. Though St. Mark's beat ESD twice this season, also facing them in the Southwest Preparatory Conference championship game, the Lions lost to the Eagles back in March before dropping consecutive games to Dallas Jesuit (Texas) and eventual Colorado state champion Arapahoe (Colo.). St. Mark's went 1-1 in games against out-of-state opponents with a win over Tennessee state champ Memphis University School (Tenn.). Among the Lions' top contributors this season were sophomore attacker Jack Fojtasek (29 goals, 22 assists), senior captain Andrew Graffy (25 goals, 21 assists), two-time All-American Bear Goldstein (128 ground balls, 78 caused turnovers), senior defender/long-stick midfielder Justin Harvey (43 caused turnovers, 64 ground balls) and senior goalkeeper Chris Roach (64 percent save rate).
3. St. Andrew's (Fla.), 20-4
Season Complete: The Scots had won 41 straight games against Florida opponents going into the state championship game, but Lake Highland Prep — the last team to beat them, in the 2011 final — ended that streak to deny them of their ninth title in 10 years. St. Andrew's defeated the Highlanders earlier in the season and also posted wins against some other top Florida teams, such as Benjamin and Jupiter. The Scots went 1-3 against out-of-state competition with losses to nationally-ranked Boys' Latin (Md.) and McDonogh (Md.) and Timon-St. Jude (N.Y.), which has received votes in the national Top 25 poll, and a win over St. Anne's-Belfield (Va.). Conor Whipple led the Scots with 96 goals and 32 assists, Grant Mahler had a team-high 93 ground balls and a 67 percent faceoff win rate, and Corey Etcheverry finished with a 61.4 percent save rate.
4. Episcopal Dallas (Texas), 15-7
Season Complete: The Eagles had an up-and-down regular season while playing one of the toughest schedules in Texas, but the pieces came together late, resulting in a state runner-up finish to St. Mark's. Episcopal followed a 7-0 start to the season — including against St. Mark's and Tennessee state champion Memphis University School — with four straight losses to 2012 state champion Highland Park (Texas), Calverton (Md.), Loyola-Blakefield (Md.) and DeMatha (Md.). They went on to lose two more games in the regular season against St. Mark's and Dallas Jesuit, but during their playoff run, they ended The Woodlands' (Texas) perfect season and won a rematch against Jesuit 6-5 in the state semifinals. The Eagles were led by players such as sophomore midfielder Sam Romano, a Syracuse commit, junior attackers Richie Loftus and Jack Beare (Notre Dame) and faceoff man Barrett Anigian.
5. Dallas Jesuit (Texas), 14-3
Season Complete: The Rangers ended their season in the state semifinals, falling to Episcopal Dallas by one goal after beating the Eagles by the same margin two weeks prior in the regular-season finale. Jesuit didn't lose a game by more than two goals this season, including a 7-6 decision to Highland Park (Texas) and an 11-9 loss to nationally-ranked Gilman (Md.). The Rangers finished 2-1 against out-of-state competition with wins against eventual North Carolina state semifinalist East Chapel Hill (N.C.) and independent division state champion Charlotte Latin (N.C.). Jesuit was paced by a strong class of seniors, including faceoff specialist Sam Rosengarden (Jacksonville University), goalkeeper Dan Morris (Maryland), attackman Zack Coker (Furman) and midfielder Garrett Van de Ven (Duke). Coker was injured in late March but returned for the playoffs.
6. Benjamin (Fla.), 17-3
Season Complete: The Buccaneers made their first FHSAA Final Four since the state recognized lacrosse in 2008, but they fell short against St. Andrew's (Fla.) for a second time this season. Benjamin survived close games against up-and-coming Jupiter (Fla.) and Vero Beach (Fla.) in the state play-in rounds, after previously losing to Jupiter during the regular season for its only other loss. The Bucs also own a marquee win over eventual state champion Lake Highland Prep and they won their only game against an out-of-state opponent, beating Langley (Va.) 8-7. Senior Robert Jacobs finished the year with 55 goals and 35 assists to lead Benjamin, while freshman Andrew Packer added 42 goals and 23 assists
7. Highland Park (Texas), 14-3
Season Complete: The Fighting Scots were unable to defend their state title as 2012 runner-up St. Mark's (Texas) ended their run in the state semifinals. Two of their last three games were losses to St. Mark's, but before that, Highland Park won 13 straight. The Scots opened the season with a 3-2 loss to The Woodlands, who had a perfect regular season, and they own notable wins over fellow state semifinalists Dallas Jesuit (Texas), Texas runner-up Episcopal Dallas, eventual Tennessee state champion Memphis University School and North Carolina runner-up Lake Norman (N.C.). They were 4-0 overall against out-of-state competition. Highland Park had three players named All-State, including junior midfielder Robert Mencke and senior goalie Matthew Meaders, both All-Americans, and senior attackman Bryce Green.
8. Ponte Vedra (Fla.), 21-3
Season Complete: The Sharks' season ended in the state semifinals for a second year in a row, as Lake Highland Prep beat them for a second time this season. Ponte Vedra entered the Final Four on a 14-game win streak, including a notable victory over Lake Brantley (Fla.) and a win in the Sharks' only game against a non-Florida opponent, Cannon School (N.C.). Ponte Vedra's only other loss was against Maclay, which it avenged in the third round of state play-in games. Dalton LeMaster led the team with 44 goals this season, and Logan Taucher had 120 ground balls to finish the year. Scott Applegate, Cody Legeza and Garrett Boyle also finished with 30 goals or more.
9. Centennial (Ga.), 19-3
Season Complete: The Knights beat Lambert (Ga.) 15-12 in the Class 6A final on May 18 to pick up the program's first state title and the school's first championship in any boys' team sport. They opened the state tournament with a 21-5 win over East Coweta (Ga.) and pulled through in close games against previously-ranked Lassiter (Ga.) and Harrison (Ga.) in the quarterfinal and semifinal rounds, respectively, to get to the championship. Centennial lost just one game to a Georgia opponent all year, falling to Milton (Ga.) 18-16 on April 26. The Knights' other losses were a 13-12 overtime game against previously ranked McCallie (Tenn.) and a 12-11 loss to Bolles (Fla.). They finished 2-2 against out-of-state competition, beating two other Florida teams.
10. Louisville Trinity (Ky.), 17-1
Season Complete: The Shamrocks ended Louisville St. Xavier's streak of five consecutive state titles, knocking off the Tigers 8-5 in the championship game May 17. St. Xavier accounted for Trinity's only loss of the season, a 16-5 rout on April 10, but in the rematch, Mitchell Kraus paced the Shamrocks with three goals, and goalie Cody Tranbarger guided a defense that allowed just 4.1 goals per game all season. Trinity had not given up more than six goals in any other game, and the Shamrocks owned notable wins over Midwest Region-ranked Cathedral (Ind.), four-loss Turpin (Ohio) and Tennessee state runner-up Montgomery Bell Academy.
News and Notes
Centennial brings home first title
Centennial (Ga.) director of lacrosse Bryan Wallace said he had a feeling this year's team could be special, but few else expected much from his Knights.
The Knights played their best lacrosse when it mattered most and walked away with the program's first state title in any boys' team sport.
"Coming in, we had only graduated one senior so I knew we had a decent, veteran group with a couple seniors at each position," Wallace said. "But the growth of the team from Day 1 to the end was dramatic. The kids bought in. We played a tough schedule, and game by game we got better.
"People didn't expect us to do too much, but we came on the scene and I think we've got a good group coming back and good kids coming up from our feeder program."
After one-goal losses to Bolles (Fla.) and McCallie (Tenn.) — in double overtime — and an 18-16 loss to Milton (Ga.), the Knights finally learned to pull through in tight games during the postseason. Wallace saw it all come together in a 13-12 win over a quality Lassiter team in the state quarterfinals, and the Knights won their next two games by five goals combined.
"I had coached there [in 2010] before I came here, so I knew their game plan inside out," Wallace said. "We came in well prepared, we knew what needed to do and executed in all facets of the game. After we beat them, we were not overly confident, but once we got through them we felt we definitely could make it thought to the state championship and hopefully win it."
Centennial had a 13-7 lead in the third quarter before Lambert chipped away at the deficit with five-straight goals to make it a one-goal game midway through the fourth quarter. The Knights didn't let the lead slip from their hands, though, and Brad Mals and Britton Board scored the final two goals to end it.
Sophomore Nate Solomon finished with two goals and six assists, and sophomore Zach Levy, juniors Alex Prescott, Austin Prescott and Ryan Carvin and senior Brendan Hall each added two goals. Senior goalie Joe Delia came up with 10 saves.
"It's wonderful, not only for our program but for the whole school," Wallace said. "I've only been in it two years, but in about 10 years of lacrosse, they hadn't experienced much success in the postseason. To win the state championship was a pretty big deal."
Night and Day
The defense that showed up for Louisville Trinity in the Kentucky state championship didn't look like the same one St. Xavier saw during the regular-season.
Trinity was best known for playing solid defense this season, but had given up a season-high 16 goals against the Tigers in the first meeting of the teams.
In the rematch, a swarming defense and solid goalie play from Cody Tranbarger limited St. Xavier to five goals, as the Shamrocks won their first state title since 2007.
"[Tranbarger] and our defense saved their best performance for last, and they all went out with a bang," Trinity coach Pete Schroeder said. "I'm very proud of them."
Trinity took a 4-1 lead the first quarter and was up 7-2 going into the fourth, but the Tigers' rally fell short.
Tennessee didn't finish the season with any teams ranked in the South, but Memphis University School is a team to continue to watch after winning its third consecutive state title.
The Owls topped Montgomery Bell Academy 11-3 on May 18 for the program's 10th overall title.
MUS finished the season 16-4 with losses to three South Region-ranked teams from Texas — St. Mark's, Highland Park and Episcopal Dallas – and a 16-9 loss to McCallie (Tenn.), which lost to Montgomery Bell in the state semifinals. The Owls ended the year with 15-straight 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.