Nike/LM HS South Report: Westminster Finishes Run
Westminster (Ga.) boys' lacrosse coach Tony Souza knew his senior-laden squad could be special, but even he couldn't have predicted a year like this.
Led by a senior class of 22 players, the Wildcats claimed the GHSA Class 5A title for the second time in three years on May 16 with a 7-4 victory over Lovett (Ga.).
In doing so, they capped a record-setting season that saw them win 20 games for the first time in the program's 21-year history, out-doing the 2010, 2013 and 2014 teams that won 18 games.
"This is a very special group of seniors," Souza said. "I have coached some of them for four year, which is very unusual, and most of them for three years. I actually have a hard time remembering when they weren't part of the program.
"They were the driving factor in our state championship in 2013 as sophomores and were the backbone of our record setting season this year."
The Wildcats were consistently solid throughout the season.
Nike/LM South Boys' Top 10
1. Lake Highland Prep (Fla.), 21-3
After a 2-4 start during a brutal out-of-state schedule, Cardinal Gibbons (N.C.) won its last 15 games and repeated as the NCHSAA Class 3A champions with an overtime win over Marvin Ridge (N.C.). The Crusaders were perfect against in-state competition.
The teams in the Top 10 all finished strong. Six were state champions, and two were runners up (St. Thomas Aquinas, Fla., and The Woodlands, Texas). St. Andrew's (Fla.) and Episcopal Dallas (Texas) were both state semifinalists.
They opened with eight straight wins, then turned heads in going toe-to-toe with nationally-ranked Boys' Latin (Md.), losing just 11-9. From there, the only blip on their record was a 10-9 defeat at the hands of Georgia Class 6A foe Johns Creek.
Westminster's defense especially proved dominant this season, allowing just 11 goals total over the 8-0 start and holding all but the two opponents under 10 goals. The Wildcats led the state in allowing just 3.55 goals per game for a GHSA-best 10.77 net goal differential, as the offense ranked ninth with 14.32 goals per game.
The defense didn't disappoint in the championship game, either. Westminster held Lovett to just two goals over the first three quarters while building a 7-2 lead behind sophomore Jack Patton's hat trick.
Junior Raines Shamburger held Lovett's top attackman, Hughes Moffett, to one goal, and senior defender Charlie Trense stepped up when asked to fill in against an All-American faceoff specialist and gave the Wildcats possession almost 50 percent of the time. Aside from Patton's three goals, the rest of the scoring came from seniors Cole Haverty (two goals), Blake Davis (one goal) and Chip Wrap (one goal).
"Our seniors have been great leaders," Souza said. "It has been their team from the beginning, and they should get all the credit for our state championship this year."
Westminster outscored its four postseason opponents 51-6 and the title was the program's fifth overall.
South Boys' Player of the Week
Nick Forbes, Cardinal Gibbons (N.C.)
The senior midfielder came up big for the Crusaders in helping them beat Marvin Ridge for the second straight year in the NCHSAA Class 3A final. Forbes scored the game-winner in sudden-death overtime with 59 seconds left in the period, as Gibbons beat the Mavericks 13-12. Forbes' winning tally came on a bouncer that hit the goalie's stick and trickled across the line. He was named game MVP after finishing with four goals and seven assists. The Siena-bound middie also scored one of the Crusaders' final goal three goals in regulation and assisted the last two, as they rallied from a three-goal deficit in the fourth quarter.
Also notable: Nick Greco (Apex, N.C.), Chandler Bessler (Apex, N.C.), Seamus Byrne (Charlotte Catholic, N.C.), Mark Schachte (Cardinal Gibbons, N.C.), Jared Blum (Marvin Ridge, N.C.)
Nike/LM South Girls' Top 10
Girls' South Player of the Week
Kieran Rinaldi, Lake Norman (N.C.)
The sophomore carried the Wildcats to their first NCHSAA state title over the weekend in a 17-15 overtime win over Cardinal Gibbons (N.C.). She scored the go-ahead goal with 12 seconds remaining in the first three-minute overtime period on a free position shot and added a key insurance goal with 1:42 left in the second overtime. Rinaldi finished with seven goals, six of which came after the teams went to halftime tied at 5-5.
Also notable: Jordan Lappin (Cardinal Gibbons, N.C.), Carly Vaccaro (Lake Norman, N.C.), Erica Skowron (Cardinal Gibbons, N.C.), Elise Ferguson (Kentucky Country Day, Ky.)
1. Milton (Ga.), 18-4
2. Vero Beach (Fla.), 20-3
3. St. John's (Texas), 21-0
4. Barron Collier (Fla.), 22-2
5. Walton (Ga.), 15-7
6. Ponte Vedra (Fla.), 19-4
7. Lassiter (Ga.), 16-5
8. Kell (Ga.), 19-3
9. Hutchison (Tenn.), 21-4
10. Lake Norman (N.C.), 18-2
Lake Norman (N.C.) won its first N.C. High School Athletic Association state title, beating a Cardinal Gibbons squad that had just one loss going into the game. The Wildcats pulled through in overtime for a 17-15 win in their first state final. They finished with just one in-state loss to Marvin Ridge, and their other loss was to Midwest-ranked Hinsdale Central (Ill.).
The 2015 season in the South is officially closed, and the Top 10 teams all finished strong. The rankings include six state champions, two runners up (Ponte Vedra, Fla., and Walton, Ga.) and two semifinalists (Lassiter, Ga., and Barron Collier, Fla.).
Boys' South Notebook
All Cardinal Gibbons (N.C) needed to repeat as NCHSAA Class 3A champions was a little persistence.
The Crusaders rallied from a three-goal deficit in the fourth quarter and beat Marvin Ridge 13-12 in overtime for their second straight title Saturday.
Nick Forbes had his first two shots in overtime saved and hit the post three or four times but finally found the back of the net for the game-winner with 59 seconds left in the sudden death overtime period. His winning score capped a four-goal, seven-assist performance.
"He's as good as it gets," Gibbons coach Alex Buckley told the Charlotte News & Observer. "He's abused some defenses this year and made it look easy sometimes. He just has a great feel for the game, and he's a great athlete."
The Crusaders scored the last four goals of the game – including the first and last of those from Forbes. Forbes found Mark Schachte twice in the final three-and-a-half minutes of regulation, including one with 23 seconds left to force overtime.
Schachte finished with five goals, all in the second half and assisted by Forbes. Stephen Albright, after winning just 7 of 16 faceoffs in the first half, won 12 of 13 to close the game and help erase Marvin Ridge's lead.
The Mavericks had no groundballs or shots in the overtime period. Jared Blum led the team with two goals and three assists.
"We put ourselves in a hole, but our guys don't mind adversity -- we've shown that all year," Buckley told the News & Observer.
The Crusaders won 15 straight to close the season after a 2-4 start that included losses to four teams ranked in the national Top 25 at one point this season -- Calvert Hall (Md.), McDonogh (Md.), Bullis (Md.) and St. Stephen's & St. Agnes (Va.).
Revenge was especially sweet for Apex (N.C.), as it won a rematch of last year's NCHSAA Class 4A final loss to Charlotte Catholic.
This time Apex (20-2) came out on top, 7-6. Catholic (20-3) had also beaten Apex 8-5 during the middle of the regular season.
The title was Apex's third overall and second since the NCHSAA sanctioned the sport in 2010.
Chandler Besser, who had two goals and two assists, led the Apex offense, but senior Nick Greco was named MVP after playing crucial defense in the waning minutes and scoring two goals and assisting on another. His breakaway with 4:43 left gave Apex a 7-4 lead.
Catholic was led by Seamus Byrne's two goals and Robbie Wallon's one goal and one assist.
Louisville St. Xavier (Ky.) wasted little time proving itself in the Kentucky Scholastic Lacrosse League final.
The Tigers scored twice in the first 41 seconds and rolled to an 18-4 win over Kentucky Country Day for their 10th state title – second straight and seventh in the last eight years. St. X has been to 14 of the 15 state finals and once again proved it belonged, peppering the Bearcats with 40 shots while controlling the ball throughout the match.
Collin Roppel finished with three goals and four assists to earn MVP honors. The Tigers finished 18-4 with three losses to Mid-Atlantic teams and the other coming against Midwest-ranked Carmel (Ind.).
Charlotte Latin (N.C.) won its fourth straight North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association title last weekend, as the Hawks beat Ravenscroft 15-10 in the final behind Carson Song's three goals and five assists.
Jack Gitlin had four goals and Owen Armstrong added three for the Hawks, who jumped to a 5-1 lead but had to overcome a second-quarter rally by the Ravens.
Girls' South Notebook
The Lake Norman (N.C.) girls' lacrosse team was ready to celebrate its first NCHSAA title as the clock ticked down to end regulation.
However, the Wildcats had to wait until overtime to claim the crown, as they beat Cardinal Gibbons 17-15.
Kieran Rinaldi scored on a free position shot with 19 seconds left to give Lake Norman a 14-13 lead over Cardinal Gibbons, but Erica Skowron briefly saved the Crusaders, sending the game to overtime with a second-chance goal as time expired after Wildcats Korina Kempthorn made a save on a free position shot by Jordan Lappin.
Lake Norman wasn't fazed by the sudden turn of events and responded in overtime, as Rinaldi scored the go-ahead goal with 12 seconds left in the first three-minute overtime and added an insurance goal with 1:42 left in the second overtime. She finished with seven goals, just one coming in the first half.
"These girls have fought back all year," Lake Norman coach Chris Schiemer told the Statesville Record & Landmark. "They showed the same spirit to win they've had all year."
Neither team led by more than three goals at any point, and the game was tied at 5 at halftime.
Gibbons' Lappin was named the game's Most Valuable Player, though her six goals and two assists weren't enough to lift the Crusaders to victory. Skowron finished with four goals and one assist.
In addition to Rinaldi's seven goals, the Wildcats got six goals from Carly Vaccaro andJulianna Dworschak added two goals and three assists.
Lake Norman finished 18-2 with only a one-goal loss to Marvin Ridge and a 19-14 loss to Midwest-ranked Hinsdale Central (Ill.). Among the Wildcats' wins were a pair of victories against Charlotte Catholic (N.C.), which was power-rated No. 1 in the state by LaxPower.com, a 15-8 win over Georgia state semifinalist Chattahoochee and a 20-9 decision over South Carolina state champion J.L. Mann.
Charlotte Country Day (N.C.) won its third straight N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association title last weekend.
The Bucs beat Durham Academy 16-10 at home behind four-goal efforts from Lucy Pedlow and Riley Harrison.
Country Day has won five championships overall and has played in every NCISAA final since the sport was recognized by its high school association seven years ago.
Kentucky Country Day avenged its only in-state loss to win its first Kentucky Scholastic Lacrosse League state title since 2012.
The Bearcats outlasted Sacred Heart Academy (Ky.) 10-9 in the final Thursday. Sacred Heart had beaten Country Day in the previous two state finals and had won an early-season matchup 9-5.
Country Day (25-3) jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the first half and held off the Valkyrie's rally efforts. Elise Ferguson finished with five goals and two assists to lead the Bearcats.
"You knew it was going to be a classic, with two of the best teams to ever play girls lacrosse in this state," KCD coach Pat McAnulty told the Louisville Courier-Journal. "I'm just proud of our girls for keeping their composure and hats off to Sacred Heart for a great comeback."
Nike/LM HS South Report Archive
- May 19: Blue Tornado Weathers Storm
- May 12: St. John's Best Ever?
- May 5: Vero Beach's Decade of Dominance
- April 28: Charlotte's Sweet Song
- April 21: Kell Gaining Steam
- April 14: Georgia's First 300 Winner
- April 7: Hutchison Feels the Sting
- March 31: Episcopal Weathers Early Storm
- March 24: Milton's Quick Rebound
- March 17: Playing for a Cause
- March 10: Tragedy in South Carolina
- March 3: Florida to Fall Under New Rules?
- Feb. 25: Region Preview and Players to Watch
comments powered by Disqus