March 26, 2013

Nike/US Lacrosse South Region Report

by Laurel Pfahler | LaxMagazine.com

Related: National Top 25 | Northeast | Mid-Atlantic | Midwest | West

Top Performers

Robby Rybarczyk, St. John's (Texas)

The senior midfielder played a big role in lifting the Mavericks past defending state champion Hockaday (Texas) on March 23. The game was tied 5-5 at halftime, but Rybarczyk won the first six draws in the second half to help St. John's dominate possession and roll to a 13-7 win. The Northwestern signee finished with seven draw controls and added two goals.

Annie Ruland, Milton (Ga.)

The senior attacker had three goals and four assists in the Eagles' 14-13 win over Vero Beach (Fla.) on March 16. Her goal with 6:03 left gave Milton its first lead since early in the first half, and the Eagles never trailed from there.

Alyssa Herzog, Hutchison (Tenn.)

The senior attacker led the Sting in a 16-6 win over Roswell (Ga.) on March 23. She set up the first five goals and scored the next two for a 7-2 lead in the first half, finishing with an eye-popping four goals and eight assists.

Games to Watch

Vero Beach (Fla.) vs. St. Anthony's (N.Y.) – April 3

St. Anthony's brings a national No. 3 ranking to Vero Beach, as the Fighting Indians play their last of seven out-of-state opponents in a doubleheader with their boys' team, which hosts nationally-ranked Calvert Hall afterward. Vero Beach faces two more tough games before this in a tournament in St. Petersburg on March 30, which will include a matchup with national No. 4 Georgetown Visitation.

Milton (Ga.) vs. Georgetown Visitation (D.C.) – April 6 at St. Stephen's & St. Agnes (Va.)

Milton plays two games in the St. Stephen's & St. Agnes Spring Fling, opening the day with an 11:30 a.m. game against Archbishop John Carroll (Pa.) before the highly anticipated matchup with Georgetown Visitation. The Eagles will have an idea what to expect if they keep an eye on how Vero Beach does against both those teams the week before.

1. Milton (Ga.), 5-1

The Eagles overtook Vero Beach (Fla.) for the top spot by beating the Fighting Indians 14-13 on March 16. Milton scored seven consecutive goals to overcome an 11-6 deficit in the second half, and intercepted a pass in Vero Beach's offensive third with 23 seconds left to seal the win. Milton's loss came the night before to national No. 1 McDonogh 11-8.

2. Vero Beach (Fla.), 9-3

The Fighting Indians' brutal out-of-state schedule already has taken a toll on their record but they don't drop far from the top. After opening the season 7-0 against Florida competition, they lost back-to-back games for the first time since 2007, falling victim to national No. 1 McDonogh (Md.) and South Region rival Milton (Ga.) in a four-day span. The next week, they split games at the AmLax Challenge on March 23, losing 11-9 in overtime to Conestoga (Pa.) and beating Germantown (Pa.) 10-6.

3. St. John's (Texas), 8-2

The Mavericks split four games in California during spring break, picking up wins over two of the preseason Top 10 teams in the West region (Menlo (Calif.) and St. Ignatius Prep (Calif.)) and then losing 21-12 to West region No. 1 Carondelet (Calif.) and 17-9 to unbeaten Amador Valley (Calif.), which moves to the No. 3 spot in the West this week. St. John's bounced back from its two-game skid and earned another notable win over defending state champion Hockaday, 13-7, on Saturday.

4. Barron Collier (Fla.), 11-0

The Cougars are off to a great start and recently notched wins over two traditionally strong Florida teams — Lake Brantley and Winter Springs — but they still remain No. 2 in Florida even with Vero Beach already suffering three losses. Vero Beach plays a tougher schedule overall and beat Barron Collier 19-9 last year in the playoffs. The Cougars are working toward a rematch, though. The teams could both meet again in the Elite Eight of the state tournament at the end of April.

5. Lassiter (Ga.), 7-0

Other than a battle against Hutchison (Tenn.) earlier this season, the Trojans have coasted through their schedule. But the competition ramps up in April with four consecutive games against northern state opponents. Lassiter has outscored its last three opponents 65-11.

6. Hutchison School (Tenn.), 6-2

The Sting added two more wins against Georgia opponents, finishing 3-2 against teams from the Peach State with the two losses coming against ranked Milton and Lassiter. Hutchison now returns to in-state competition and still has some of the best teams in Tennessee coming up on the schedule. A tough slate early on should pay off for the Sting.

7. Ursuline Academy (Texas), 7-0

The Bears came off a 15-day break from action to beat Episcopal Dallas 11-7 on March 20, and now they have another two-week layoff. Ursuline needs to take advantage of the extra practice time, but hope the lack of competition in March doesn't hurt later. When the Bears return to the field April 4 against Allen (Texas), there are just three games left to prepare for districts.

8. Ponte Vedra (Fla.), 10-0

The Sharks make their debut in the rankings. Only two opponents have come within 12 goals, as Lake Mary (Fla.) and Bartram Trail (Fla.) also were the only two teams to score in double digits against a stingy Sharks defense. The win over Bartram Trail especially was notable, as it was the Bears' first loss to a St. John's County program since 2008. The Bears had beaten Ponte Vedra three times last year, including a 12-11 overtime game in the playoffs that helped Bartram Trail become the first team from North Florida to make the final four.

9. Walton (Ga.), 6-1-1

The Raiders jump into the mix for the first time this season thanks to a solid start. Their lone loss was to the region's top-ranked team — Milton (Ga.) beat them 19-11 on Feb. 29. Walton tied unbeaten Centennial (Ga.), 12-12 on March 5, but since then the Raiders have won four straight, while outscoring opponents 78-22.

10. Lake Brantley (Fla.), 10-2

The Patriots slipped up with an upset loss against Hagarty (Fla.) 10-9 on March 20, coming off the heels of a defeat at the hands of unbeaten Barron Collier (Fla.). Still a strong team, they rebounded with a 14-8 win over Olympia (Fla.), but Lake Brantley might have benefited from a more challenging schedule early on. Though the Patriots played traditionally strong Florida teams like Bishop Moore and Winter Springs, six of their 12 opponents have losing records.

News and Notes

Milton gets a big one

Milton (Ga.) had never beaten Vero Beach (Fla.) before their sixth matchup March 16, and the Eagles suffered their worst loss to the Fighting Indians just two years before.

The Eagles went from a 20-3 loss in 2011, to losing by just two last year, but broke through in a comeback effort in which nine different players scored goals.

"We were down by five or six at one point, and that was just teamwork coming back like that," senior attacker Annie Ruland said. "At the beginning of the season, we had some issues coming together, but we finally did it, and I'm just so proud of us. We wanted this so bad."

How excited was coach Tim Godby? He was the one dumping the Gatorade cooler on the players afterward. Vero Beach had outscored Milton 77-35 in the five previous meetings.

"It feels great," Godby said. "We came down here to play them the first time in 2006, and we developed a friendly rivalry. I have deep respect for their program, so for us to be able to compete is awesome, but to win, I'm just speechless to beat those girls and the kind of program they have."

Milton picked up the tempo on offense, used its depth to its advantage by subbing often and turned up the pressure on defense for some key turnovers.

Learning experience

St. John's (Texas) has enjoyed a tradition of going out of state for games during spring break, but after nine-straight years heading to Florida, the Mavericks decided to give California another look.

Coach Angie Kesinger said the experience was beneficial for her team, which went 2-2 during the trip. The Mavericks had been practicing only two weeks before the trip, so it was a "crash course," to expose some weaknesses early, according to Kesinger.

"We were challenged physically, playing so many games in a short time period, and it was great competition," Kesinger said. "We hadn't seen that kind of competition yet, so it's an early season test for us, and it's been a building block for our team the last few years, that spring break trip."

Lauren Resnick has been the team's leader on offense, while the defense is spearheaded by Princeton signee Amanda Leavell.

Also coming up

Barron Collier (Fla.) plays the most challenging of its three out-of-state games March 29 against Holy Cross (Md.), which won the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference last year by beating Good Counsel (Md.) in the championship game. A good effort in that game would help validate the Cougars' rise in the South.

Lassiter (Ga.) opens a four-game stretch of non-Georgia opponents in a matchup against a team on the rise in the Midwest. The Trojans meet New Trier (Ill.) at 10 a.m. on April 5 at Bishop Ireton (Va.).

Walton (Ga.) will be one of the top teams attending the Dogwood Classic, an annual event put on by Georgia 4A state champion Westminster April 5-6. Other teams scheduled to attend include St. Andrew's (Fla.) and Upper Arlington (Ohio).

Check back to LaxMagazine.com every other Tuesday throughout the high school season for updates to the Nike/US Lacrosse Regional Girls' Top 10 rankings and the Nike/US Lacrosse National Girls' Top 25.


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