Midwest Girls' Regional Outlook
by Teddy Cahill | LaxMagazine.com
Five Players to Watch
Meg Lentz, Cleveland Heights (Ohio)
Kelsey Murray, New Trier (Ill.)
Lydia Sutton, Blake School (Minn.)
Christine Easton, Eden Prairie (Minn.)
Annie Brockett, Hathaway Brown (Ohio)
1. Loyola Academy (Ill.), 0-0
Loyola lost just four players from last year's team that went wire-to-wire as the region's No. 1 and finished the season ranked No. 12 nationally, though that includes Molly Hulseman (Loyola). The Ramblers (21-2 in 2011) will rely on midfielders Meredith Abrahamson and Kelsey Gallagher to replace the offense that graduated.
2. New Trier (Ill.), 1-0
The Trevians lost twice to the Ramblers by a combined three goals, including a 16-14 loss in the state tournament. New Trier (19-3) returns attacker Kelsey Murray, one of the best players in the Midwest. Goalie Laura Van Horn also returns after making 123 saves last year.
3. Blake School (Minn.), 0-0
Blake (16-0) became the first team in Minnesota history to win back-to-back girl's lacrosse state championships with an 11-9 victory against Eden Prairie last year. The Bears return midfielders Megan Bauer (Harvard) and Lydia Sutton, who combined for 111 goals last season.
4. Upper Arlington (Ohio), 0-0
Two familiar faces will return to the sideline for Upper Arlington this year. Former coaches Wendy Pinta and Sue Stimmel have come back to the school and should make the Golden Bears one of the best coached teams in the Midwest.
Stimmel coached the Golden Bears from 1989-90 before leaving to coach at Dennison from 1990-95 and Ohio State from 1996-2010. Stimmel finished her collegiate coaching career with a 198-130 record and will be back at Upper Arlington as executive head coach.
Pinta became Upper Arlington's head coach in 1992 and won three state titles in 15 years at the school. She spent three years coaching Hastings Middle School in Upper Arlington before returning to the high school this year. She has a 213-78-12 record as a high school head coach.
"The coaching staff will work hard to instill confidence, team play, selfless play, focus and intensity in our players," Pinta said.
Other coaches in the Midwest have taken note and haven't shied away from predicting it would have an immediate impact for the Golden Bears.
"Upper Arlington should be back up there at the top because Wendy Pinta is coming back to coach," Loyola coach John Dwyer said.
5. Cleveland Heights (Ohio), 0-0
The Tigers feature two-time All-American midfielder Meg Lentz (Stanford), who scored 91 goals last year and is the region's top returning player. Cleveland Heights (10-7) averaged 14 goals per game. Coach Terry Saylor said he has a "nice returning core of players that can score."
6. New Albany (Ohio), 0-0
For the second straight year, New Albany (15-4) reached the state semifinals before bowing to Medina, the eventual state champion. Midfielder Emily Newman (Ohio State) and attacker Elaina Enich (Cincinnati) combined for 145 goals.
7. Eden Prairie (Minn.), 0-0
The Eagles' only two losses last year came against Blake. Midfielder Christine Easton (Ohio State) returns to Eden Prairie (15-2) after scoring 78 goals, while midfielder Emma Claire Fontenot (Notre Dame) had 41 goals and 49 assists as a sophomore.
8. Medina (Ohio), 0-0
The two-time reigning Ohio state champion return midfielder Katie Keefe (Ohio State), who has 88 goals over the last two years. One opposing coach said he expects Medina (16-2) to be as strong as ever, despite losing All-American Sydney Thomas (Loyola).
9. Grand Rapids Catholic Central (Mich.), 0-0
Catholic Central won its first state title last year, and the Cougars (18-3-3) lost just four seniors from that team. Juniors Emily Braun, an all-state performer with 79 goals and 42 assists, and Meghan Wilson are back.
10. Sycamore (Ohio), 0-0
The Aviators (12-7) won state titles in 2007 and 2009 but will have to overcome the loss of 11 seniors to return to that championship level. Defender Marisa Merk (Robert Morris) may be the most difficult to replace, but midfielder Hayley Baas (Marquette) is back after an impressive junior year.
Rivalry to Watch
New Trier (Ill.) at Loyola (Ill.), April 27
Circle your calendars for this one. The top two teams in the Midwest, which both ranked nationally in Lacrosse Magazine's 2011 rankings, likely will meet the first of two meetings at Loyola. Both of last year's matchups were close — decided by a combined three goals — but Loyola won them both, including a win in the state tournament.
Talk about familiarity. The schools are less than four miles apart in the northern suburbs of Chicago and the players often know one another well outside of school and lacrosse.
"The fact the kids know each other and played with each other on the playground makes it better, more exciting," New Trier coach Pete Collins said.
Loyola coach John Dwyer said the close proximity of the two schools adds to the rivalry.
"The kids don't have any problem getting up for [New Trier]," he said. "They certainly are a powerhouse."
With both teams expected to be among the
best of the Midwest again and knowing they will likely meet a
second time when only one will be able to keep its state
championship hopes alive makes the rivalry even more
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