Nike/US Lacrosse Midwest Region Report
by Jonah Rosenblum | LaxMagazine.com
Top PerformersAlex Armstrong, Loyola Academy (Ill.)
The Ramblers goalkeeper helped lead Loyola Academy's upset of New Trier with his 12 saves in the state championship game.
Nick Ward, Libertyville (Ill.)
The second-team All-State attacker scored two goals in Libertyville's upset win over Glenbrook North (Ill.) and notched a hat trick in the first quarter alone against Loyola Academy (Ill.) to finish his season with 46 goals and 77 points.
Ryan McNamara, Eastview (Minn.)
In a wildly entertaining, back-and-forth contest between Eastview and Eagan in the Section 3 finals, Ryan McNamara scored an astounding 12 goals to lead the Lightning to a 19-18 victory. As Lightning coach Tim Roche told David Houfek of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, it's a performance they'll talk about for years to come. McNamara's two goals and two assists in the final six minutes helped complete Eastview's comeback from an 18-14 deficit.
Games to Watch
No. 4 White Bear Lake (Minn.) vs. No. 5 The Blake School (Minn.) — June 11
Perhaps it shouldn't come as a surprise that of all the first-round contests in the Minnesota postseason, the No. 4 vs. No. 5 matchup is the most intriguing. The White Bear Lake Bears come in with a dominant 14-1 record, but aside from two victories over Stillwater, they really didn't play anyone that impressive. They have yet to take on an Eden Prairie (Minn.) or an Eastview (Minn.) or even an Eagan (Minn.). When they go up against The Blake School, they will take on a more seasoned Bears team, a Blake Bears team that has taken on and beaten Eastview and a Blake Bears team that has taken on Eden Prairie too. Blake enters having won seven of eight, setting up a fine matchup of two hot teams.
Orono (Minn.) vs. No. 2 Eastview (Minn.) — June 11
Are the Spartans capable of pulling off a major upset? Hard to say, but after losing three of their first six games, they have now won nine straight, including an overtime win over Wayzata (Minn.). They also played Minnetonka (Minn.) and Blake (Minn.) close this year, which bodes well for their chances. Of course, Eastview (Minn.) is in another league, and defeating the defending state champions in the postseason will be a challenge unlike any Orono has faced this season. The game features several elite scorers in Eastview's Ryan McNamara (44 goals, 20 assists, 65 ground balls) and Orono's Chandler Sampson (45 goals, 23 assists, 32 ground balls).
1. Culver Academy (Ind.), 18-2
Season Complete: After falling to Hill Academy (Canada) 15-10 on April 21, the Eagles won their last nine games, each by at least five goals. With the exception of a five-goal victory over New Trier (Ill.), Culver Academy cruised through its winning streak without anyone coming within nine goals of the Eagles. They capped their streak off with an impressive 19-10 revenge victory over Hill Academy.
2. Upper Arlington (Ohio), 20-2
Season Complete: Single-digit scoring totals aren't usually a recipe for success, but the Golden Bears managed to make it work, winning a state title despite scoring nine or fewer goals in each of their final four games. Their road to the championship was not easy with 7-5 victories over Worthington Kilbourne (Ohio) and Mason (Ohio), followed by a 7-6 victory over Dublin Jerome. But the result was plenty pretty enough for Upper Arlington.
3. Loyola Academy (Ill.), 19-3
Season Complete: Perhaps the Ramblers' impressive blowout of Libertyville in the state semifinals should have signaled what was to come, a 9-6 victory over top-seeded New Trier (Ill.) in the title game. Brian Callahan helped spur Loyola Academy on with two fourth-quarter goals, and the Ramblers have now won consecutive state titles after the Trevians snagged seven straight. Of course, they still have a ways to go to catch the Loyola girls, who have won five straight state championships.
4. Brother Rice (Mich.), 18-5
Season Complete: It has been a while since the Warriors, a long-time powerhouse in the Midwest, lost five games in a season. In that sense, 2013 was a disappointment for Brother Rice, as it lost twice to Upper Arlington (Ohio), twice to Hill Academy (Canada) and once to Culver Academy (Ind.). All of its losses did come against elite teams, however, and this is a Warriors team that downed Dublin Jerome (Ohio) and New Trier (Ill.), both among the best in their respective states, and easily plowed through their competition in the state playoffs.
5. New Trier (Ill.), 18-4
Season Complete: The Trevians came up a little bit short in the state title game, but otherwise they went undefeated against in-state competition, including a 6-4 victory over Loyola Academy (Ill.) in mid-April. They ventured outside of the state to pull off impressive victories over Archbishop Moeller (Ohio), Detroit Catholic Central (Mich.) and Carmel (Ind.), proving they are a regional power, even if not a state champion.
6. Mason (Ohio), 17-3
Season Complete: The Comets were undeniably one of the best teams in the Buckeye State in 2013. Consider how they fared against eventual state champion Upper Arlington. During the regular season, they took the Golden Bears down on the road, 6-5, and in the state semifinals, they again played Upper Arlington tough before falling, 7-5. Their out-of-state performance was a tad disappointing as they fell to Carmel (Ind.) and were blown out by Culver Academy (Ind.).
7. Dublin Jerome (Ohio), 16-7
Season Complete: The Celtics made a fantastic bid for the state championship, based on a stalwart defense. They surrendered just 19 goals over five state tournament contests, finally ending in a 7-6 loss to Upper Arlington in the state title match. They surrendered just two goals to Olentangy (Ohio) in the quarterfinals and just three goals to St. Ignatius (Ohio) in the semifinals.
8. Cathedral (Ind.), 19-1
Season Complete: The Irish can only be placed so high because they didn't fare all that well against out-of-state competition. They barely beat a decent Benet Academy (Ill.) team and they were doubled up by Kentucky powerhouse Louisville Trinity. That being said, in the Hoosier State, they were dominant, and they held every opponent to single-digit scoring, an impressive feat, led by First-Team All-State defender Cameron O'Connor.
9. Eden Prairie (Minn.), 15-0
The Eagles were handed a very tricky schedule in 2013. After playing their first seven games at home, they had to take on Eagan (Minn.), Edina (Minn.), Minnetonka (Minn.) and Eastview (Minn.) on the road over a two and a half week period. They won all four games, though Eagan and Eastview both presented a challenge. Their defense has been rock-solid of late, as they've surrendered just 20 goals over their last seven games, and will need to remain that way if they end up facing White Bear Lake and elite scorer Ted Ramert (54 goals, 23 assists) in the semifinals.
10. Saint Viator (Ill.), 15-4
Season Complete: The Lions didn't lose a home game all season. Moreover, after dropping two of their first four games, they won 13 of their final 15, finally falling to New Trier in the postseason, 12-9. Before they dropped out of the playoffs though, they posted several impressive blowout wins, including a 12-4 victory over Hinsdale Central (Ill.) and a 14-5 rout of Benet Academy (Ill.). Dan O'Malley finished fourth in the state with 104 points.
An Unexpected Journey
Last season's St. Louis University High School (Mo.) squad coasted into the postseason on a long winning streak and surprised no one when it made it to the championship game, where it edged MICDS (Mo.) by a single goal.
As the losses mounted for this season's Bills team, it didn't seem so certain that a state title game was in their future. Sure, losses to out-of-state powers like Worthington Kilbourne (Ohio) and Carmel (Ind.) were understandable, but losses to local foes O'Fallon Township (Mo.), MICDS, Lafayette (Mo.) and DeSmet Jesuit (Mo.) cast doubt on St. Louis University's chances.
Well, for everyone except the Bills — they never lost faith.
"Last year, not in a cocky sense, but we knew we were going to get to the finals and it was going to be a rematch of our triple-overtime game with MICDS," coach Mark Seyer said. "This year, we all knew internally, so I don't think there was much difference as far as our team mentality because we all knew we were going to get to where we wanted to be and that's the state championship game, but I think we surprised a lot of teams with how well we played in those playoff games."
Given their regular-season issues, they had to deal with a much tougher bracket than usual. This time around, they were the fourth seed, which meant a first-round matchup with a Eureka (Mo.) team that they edged by just two goals two weeks before and a semifinal matchup with top-ranked DeSmet Jesuit.
Again though, it didn't matter, because the Bills were only beginning to find their groove. They doubled up on both teams en route to another state title game appearance. According to Seyer, the team did well to capitalize on its opponents' miscues and posted quality shooting percentages in both contests.
"It was obviously a lot of fun," Seyer said. "Our kids were peaking at the right time. We were charged with a pretty tough playoff bracket, being the four seed and playing the five seed in the first round and then the one seed in the second round, so we had our work cut out for us. It was a lot of fun to play those games and the kids really had a lot of energy."
Note: The Nike/US Lacrosse Regional rankings will not necessarily reflect the same order as the Nike/US Lacrosse National Boys' Top 25, which is voted on by US Lacrosse area representatives and Lacrosse Magazine contributors, who compile the regional rankings.