Nike/US Lacrosse South Region Report
by Laurel Pfahler | LaxMagazine.com
Top PerformersLilly Stanley, Green Hope (N.C.)
The sophomore midfielder led the defending state champion Falcons with four goals and four assists in a 15-13 overtime win against Apex (N.C.) on April 12. She had 24 goals and 21 assists through the first 10 games this season.
Lydia Cassada, Milton (Ga.)
The senior attacker scored 13 goals and added four assists during the Legacy Cup on April 12-13 as the Eagles went 2-0-1 with wins over Kent Denver (Colo.) and Winter Springs (Fla.) and a tie against Good Counsel (D.C.). Cassada is signed to play for Northwestern next year.
Abby Walker, Ponte Vedra (Fla.)
The junior midfielder had six goals and 15 draw controls during the Sharks' two-game district tournament April 15 and 17, as they beat Fletcher (Fla.) and Nease (Fla.) to claim their second straight title. Ponte Vedra (17-1) is three wins away from a return to the Final Four after making its debut there last year.
Games to Watch
Milton (Ga.) at Lassiter (Ga.) – May 3
This is a matchup of the top two teams in Georgia and a possible preview to a playoff game down the road. Both play in Area 2 of Class AAAAA and the top two teams both make the state tournament with a potential meeting in the semifinals. Lassiter lost to Milton 17-10 in the regular-season finale last year before falling to Roswell in the first round of the tournament.
Barron Collier (Fla.) at Vero Beach (Fla.) – April 30 (potential playoff game)
If both teams win as expected this is a possible matchup to determine which of Florida's top two teams goes to state. Barron Collier has to win two more games to set up a rematch of last year's third-round play-in game, and Vero Beach, which earned a bye through the first round of play-in games, needs to beat Satellite on April 25 to get there. Vero Beach earned a 19-9 victory last year on its way to winning its seventh straight state final, but the anticipated rematch is expected to be a tighter game, as the Cougars are a much-improved team.
1. Milton (Ga.), 10-3-1
The Eagles went 2-0-1 in their sixth annual Legacy Cup, outscoring Kent Denver (Colo.) and Winter Springs (Fla.) 45-25 and playing Good Counsel (D.C.) to a 14-14 draw. Milton is 6-3-1 against out-of-state competition but doesn't have a loss by more than four goals and all three losses were against teams who were nationally ranked at the time. The Eagles' 11-8 loss to national No. 1 McDonogh (Md.) was the closest anyone has come to McDonogh this season.
2. Vero Beach (Fla.), 16-4
Nine days and two more wins after handing Benjamin (Fla.) its first loss, 18-10 on April 11, the Fighting Indians claimed their ninth consecutive district title by beating Martin County (Fla.) 16-3. They are just four wins away from their eighth-straight state championship. Vero Beach has been nursing several players back from injuries and used a different starting lineup than usual in the district championship, but took a 4-0 lead in the first three minutes and never looked back. Hannah Pridemore paced the team with a game-high three goals, two assists and four draw controls.
3. St. John's (Texas), 14-2
The Mavericks ended their regular season with a 16-3 win over Memorial (Texas) on April 11. Senior midfielder Robby Rybarczyk, a Northwestern signee, opened the scoring 25 seconds into the match, and 11 different players went on to find the back of the net for St. John's. The Mavericks now prepare to open the postseason in the city semifinals April 25 against Lamar (Texas). The city finalists all advance to the state tournament, but St. John's also has the Southwest Preparatory Conference championships coming up May 3-4 at home.
4. Barron Collier (Fla.), 17-3
The Cougars move back up a spot after a strong finish to their regular-season and a dominant performance in the district tournament in which they outscored Lely (Fla.) and Naples (Fla.) 35-3. Kacie Frost registered 10 goals and five assists over those two games, as Barron Collier now continues play in the state tournament play-in games. The Cougars haven't lost to a Florida opponent since a third-round play-in game against Vero Beach last year, as all three of their losses this year were to out-of-state opponents – two by a one goal and the other a 13-8 loss to Harriton (Pa.), which is 9-1.
5. Lassiter (Ga.), 11-3-1
The Trojans, previously ranked No. 4, struggled in a 21-5 loss to Good Counsel (D.C.) on April 12, but rebounded with two blowout wins against Georgia opponents to set themselves up for a big game against Walton (Ga.), which has just one loss. All three of Lassiter's losses were to Maryland/D.C. area teams, but the Trojans also have out-of-state wins over Hutchison (Tenn.) and Glenelg (Md.) and a tie against New Trier (Ill.).
6. Hutchison School (Tenn.), 16-2
The Sting survived their biggest in-state challenge by beating Pope John Paul II (Tenn.) 11-7 on April 14, the day after earning a 14-4 victory against Ravenwood (Tenn.). Sandy Smith and Chloe Duke each scored three goals to lead Hutchison past Pope John Paul, a game in which the Sting never trailed. They went on to outscore their next three Tennessee opponents 52-10. Hutchison now has won 13 in a row after dropping games to Lassiter (Ga.) and Milton (Ga.) in early March.
7. Walton (Ga.), 10-1-2
The Raiders enjoyed a 10-day layoff after playing three games in two days in the Dogwood Classic on April 6, but didn't miss a beat in their 21-4 win over North Cobb (Ga.). Walton was scheduled to play Lassiter (Ga.) on April 23 – the team's last big in-state challenge before the playoffs. The Raiders wrap up their regular-season May 3 against Roswell (Ga.), but they face one more out-of-state opponent before that, hosting Kentucky Country Day (9-2) on April 26.
8. Benjamin (Fla.), 18-1
The Buccaneers moved up a spot despite suffering a loss to No. 2 Vero Beach (Fla.), 18-10, on April 11 in their regular-season finale. The game was tied at halftime, and it was the smallest margin of victory Vero Beach has earned against a Florida opponent this season. Benjamin won its district tournament April 17 after outscoring Seminole Ridge (Fla.) and Jupiter (Fla.) 42-7. Lauren Bernick scored six goals, while Samantha Kochman added five to lead the Bucs in the semifinals, and Hayley Ciklin and Maria Dattolo each tallied five goals in the championship game against Jupiter.
9. Ursuline Academy (Texas), 11-0
The Bears finished their regular season with a 15-10 win over Plano (Texas) on April 9 and opened the district tournament with a 10-7 win over Allen (Texas). It was their second win over Allen this season and both were by a margin of three goals. Ursuline, which also owns a notable win over Hockaday (Texas), continues district tournament play April 27 with the championship the following day.
10. Green Hope (N.C.), 11-1
The Falcons extended their win streak to 11 games by beating Apex (N.C.) for the second time in less than a week, 14-12 on April 17. Green Hope needed overtime to beat Apex 15-13 the first time and trailed 10-7 early in the second half the second meeting before rattling off seven-straight goals to take a lead it wouldn't lose. Green Hope has played just one other game decided by five goals or less – a 16-15 overtime loss to East Chapel Hill (N.C.) in the season opener. Junior Katherine Smith leads the team with 37 goals and seven assists through the first 10 games.
News and Notes
Barron Collier (Fla.) has been looking forward to a potential rematch with Vero Beach (Fla.) ever since its 19-9 loss in the third round of state tournament play-in game last year.
The Cougars are likely to get that opportunity, so long as they win two more games and Vero Beach does its part. Neither has lost to a Florida team this year, and the Fighting Indians haven't lost to one since the 2007 season opener.
"It's definitely something we have been thinking about since the end of last season," Cougars coach Chris Claussen said. "We don't want to look past anyone on our way to getting there, but that game is something we've been looking forward to for a year. Vero hasn't lost to an in-state team in what eight years? So, we know it's a big mountain to climb. We'd be the underdogs, but hopefully we get the opportunity to play them again and we execute our game plan."
Claussen said Barron Collier is much improved from last season even though the Cougars finished 18-2 in 2012 and had two wins against teams they lost to in overtime this year.
The improvement was evident in a 13-8 loss to Harriton (Pa.), a team the Cougars lost to 20-7 last year. The rematch March 26 was Barron Collier's first loss, but Claussen said his team has grown even stronger since then, despite dropping two more games.
"We took away from that game that we are a different team," Claussen said. "I give credit to them, we learned a lot from playing against them, and it's made us a better team. Their concept on defense is different than a lot of teams we face. They were very aggressive, and that can make a lot of things happen on the offensive end. That changed our attitude to how we approach ball games. We put in a whole new defense after that, and it's starting to click. Hopefully it peaks in the playoffs."
Milton (Ga.) continues to build its reputation nationwide, and it showed in the competition it was able to bring into its sixth annual Legacy Cup April 12-13.
Eagles coach Tim Godby was pleased to bring in Good Counsel (D.C.) for this year's event – and even more pleased to make it a competitive game in front of a crowd of about 1,000 fans. Milton trailed by as many as four goals in the second half but came back to take a two-goal lead late in the game before Good Counsel evened it up at 14-14 in the final two minutes.
Milton missed a free position shot with about 90 seconds left, but played solid defense to protect the tie.
"We stepped up the competition a little by having them, and it ended up being a great game," Godby said.
Godby said the best way to describe how his team is playing this year is "consistent." The Eagles have a balanced attack and a strong defense that has allowed them to compete with several of the top teams in the country. Their biggest loss was a 13-9 decision against Loyola (Ill.) on April 5.
"We're showing we can play with anyone in the country," Godby said. "We played the No. 1 team in the nation (McDonogh) closer than anyone else, we beat Vero Beach and played Georgetown Visitation (D.C.) to overtime and lost by one goal when they were ranked fourth or so. Our loss to Loyola was part of a tough first week after spring break when we were trying to get back in a groove, but we played well against Georgetown Visitation the next day. It's been a great season so far."
During the three-game Legacy Cup, the Eagles played especially well in the midfield, as junior Mackenzie Lech (San Diego State commit) had 10 goals, eight ground balls and six draw controls, and senior Annie Shenk (Elon signee) had 12 ground balls, six draw controls, five interceptions, two goals and two assists.
Ready to Roll
St. John's (Texas) had a two-week layoff before its city semifinal matchup with Lamar (Texas), which is set for April 25, so the Mavericks scheduled two scrimmages to help keep fresh for the postseason.
Coach Angie Kensinger said her team is well-prepared for another run through the playoffs. The Mavericks lost in the state championship to Hockaday last year, 19-18 in overtime.
"It's a new season," Kensinger said. "The girls are excited. We've been playing well. We've gotten a lot of players in games, so we've got some depth we'll need for the postseason. We're working hard in practice and look forward to the next few weeks."
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. LM contributors compile the regional rankings.
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.