Nike/US Lacrosse Midwest Girls' Report
by Jonah Rosenblum | LaxMagazine.com
Player of the Week
Keagan Pontious, Caledonia (Mich.)
Pontious accounted for half of Caledonia's goals in a key in-state victory over Catholic Central (Mich.) 14-5 by scoring five goals and adding two assists. Pontious was a First-Team All-State finisher for Caledonia in 2013 and appears poised for a repeat in 2014. She earned acclaim last season for performances such as a six-goal effort against Forest Hills Central (Mich.) and a two-goal effort against Lake Forest (Ill.).
Also Noteable: Brennan Dwyer, Loyola Academy (Ill.), DeeDee Snediker, Loyola Academy (Ill.), Anna Santulli, Hinsdale Central (Ill.), Mary Kate Condon, Montini Catholic (Ill.), Kandace LaRou, Temperance Bedford (Mich.); Amanda Read, Dexter (Mich.); Moriah Flynn, Mount Notre Dame (Ohio)
Game of the Week
Hinsdale Central (Ill.) at New Trier (Ill.), April 15
Hinsdale Central has fared well against four-straight formidable foes: Upper Arlington (Ohio), Loyola Academy (Ill.), Glenbrook South (Ill.) and Lyons Township (Ill.). New Trier would be its biggest win yet, however. The Trevians are 6-0. Led by Joanie Merriman (19 goals, 10 assists), Charlotte McGuire (18 goals, 7 assists) and Darby Tingue (8 goals, 10 assists), their attack has proven to be just fine in the absence of Kelsey Murray, averaging 14 goals a game.
Midwest Region Top 10
1. Loyola Academy (Ill.), 10-1
The Ramblers continue to make the best of the Midwest look like "the rest of the Midwest" in frightening style with an 18-7 victory over their opponent in last year's state championship game, Montini (Ill.), and a 20-0 victory over top Minnesota squad Edina.
2. New Trier (Ill.), 6-0
Perhaps the only Midwest squad capable of beating Loyola Academy (Ill.) sits no more than a few miles away in suburban Chicago. Aside from a narrow win over Upper Arlington (Ohio), all of New Trier's victories have come by at least five.
3. Hinsdale Central (Ill.), 5-1
The Red Devils challenged the best, losing 12-10 to Loyola Academy (Ill.), and easily handled Illinois' second tier, crushing Glenbrook South 17-7 and Lyons Township 17-4. The high-scoring Red Devils average 14 goals a game.
4. Sycamore (Ohio), 6-0
The Aviators have wins over Medina (Ohio) and Hudson (Ohio) and are allowing 3.5 goals per game. Their defensive grit was best exemplified in a 6-5 victory over the Battling Bees of Medina.
5. Mason (Ohio), 5-1
The Comets continue to rebound from a season-opening loss with five straight victories
6. Caledonia (Mich.), 2-0
The Fighting Scots lost three of their first five last year en route to finishing one game over .500. After winning each of their first two games by five-plus goals, expect a far better result this year.
7. Rockford (Mich.), 6-0
The Rams have every chance to prove themselves and rise in the rankings with games against East Grand Rapids (Mich.), Caledonia (Mich.), New Trier (Ill.) and Brighton (Mich.), who have combined for a 14-2 record thus far
8. Upper Arlington (Ohio), 5-3
Never count out the Golden Bears, who have rebounded from a rough trip to Illinois with five-straight victories. Wins over Thomas Worthington (Ohio) and Medina (Ohio) put Upper Arlington among the state's top teams
9. East Grand Rapids (Mich.), 2-0
A typical state powerhouse has started strong, allowing just eight goals over its first two games, including an impressive 10-5 victory over Catholic Central (Mich.).
10. Culver Academy (Ind.), 2-0
Fishers (Ind.) played them a little too close for comfort, but still this is an Eagles team that went 21-1 last year.
Loyola coach John Dwyer is enjoying a balanced attack this season and it has paid off richly. In the Ramblers' 18-7 victory over Montini Catholic (Ill.) Thursday, Loyola enjoyed scoring from a variety of sources.
"We never looked back. We had really balanced scoring like we've had all year," Dwyer said. "We're pretty hard to defend in that regard."
Senior superstar Maggie Nick, the returning Midwest Player of the Year, scored five. Fresh off basketball season, when she stars on the hardwood for Loyola, Nick is rounding rapidly into peak lacrosse shape, according to Dwyer. She just recently passed DeeDee Snediker for the team lead with 28 goals. Snediker has 27. Brennan Dwyer, John's daughter, has 26.
Dwyer was joined by multi-goal efforts from Annie Dooley, who is on the road back from injury, and DeeDee Snediker, who has proven a consistent scorer this season. Meanwhile, in what has to be a pleasant surprise for Dwyer, Brennan, a freshman, has wasted little time stepping up for the Ramblers. She posted a hat trick in a dominant 20-0 win over Edina (Minn.).
"She's had the advantage of being around our program and just coming to a lot of games and attending a lot of practices and just knowing what the standards are for our program," Dwyer said. "More than that, what's given her a comfort level is the acceptance and complete envelopment by our seniors and juniors and even sophomores who just treat her as an equal. No one cares, I don't care and our players don't care, what year anybody is."
And so with a plethora of scorers, a plethora of grades and a plethora of options, Loyola marches on.
"Our philosophy has always been we take the first best shot," Dwyer said. "It's really hard for anybody to face guard one of our players or try to concentrate on one player. That tends to be self-defeating because we try to have so many equal options."