Columbia, MD - On Blandair Park's 5th field, tucked nearly a football field length away from the main fields at the National High School Lacrosse Showcase (NHSLS) late Saturday afternoon, University of Virginia men's lacrosse coach Lars Tiffany stands near a tent watching the LA Cobras from California play Lovett (Ga.).
A little more than a month ago, Tiffany and the Cavaliers returned to the summit of Division I college lacrosse. But on a hot Saturday afternoon, Tiffany was like many of his coaching brethren, walking around the Howard County fields, scouting potential recruits for the next couple of the seasons.
"Eighty-five to 90-percent of recruiting is done in June and July," said Tiffany. "I like it intense and concentrated, so then the rest of the year is allowed to focus on the student-athletes."
More than 100 coaches were in attendance over the five-day NHSLS event, considered one of the best on summer recruiting circuit.
"It's pretty incredible how much it's grown," said Ty Xanders, Inside Lacrosse's Director of Recruiting and High School Content. "If you ask a college coach, there's no better recruiting environment than watching a player with his high school team."
Tiffany said team events provide two big pieces of information for a coach.
"Do you understand the schemes? Are you coachable?" said Tiffany.
Tiffany said club tournaments, which dominate the recruiting calendar, as well as individual showcases, are just as important in the evaluation process.
The participating players at NHSLS agreed to get to play with the school mates and get evaluated is a win-win.
"It brings a different level of competitiveness," said Flyers' (New York's Chaminade) face-off specialist/midfielder James Ball. "It's awesome playing with the underclassmen who're getting a chance to get out there and run."
"You can see how a kid fits and better understand his role where he might fit at the college level," said University of California coach Ned Webster, "It's better lacrosse from a spectator standpoint."
Get a shirt, sticker or home accessory to match your status as one of lacrosse's all-time leaders.
Changing of the Guard
Two of lacrosse's legendary coaches Rob Bordley (Landon) and John Nostrant (Haverford School) are no longer on the sidelines for their respective schools.
Bordley stepped down after the 2018 season, ending a 42-year run that included 31 Interstate Athletic Conference titles and four national championships.
Ian Healy, who played for Bordley at Landon, completed his first season at the suburban Washington school. He was an assistant under Bordley for the previous three seasons.
"We feel a lot of pressure there. The legacy of the program is very strong," said Healy. "We were relatively inexperienced."
Landon finished 10-5 last spring.
Healy said there were some growing pains.
"Early in the year, we didn't have a lot of confidence in ourselves," said Healy. "It was awesome to see how much they grew throughout the season."
The past season marked the end of Nostrant's 28-year tenure at Haverford. Brendon Dawson, who served as an assistant during the spring, is now in charge.
"There hasn't much of an adjustment. We know the guys," said Dawson, who coached collegiately at Haverford College and Widener. "Now, it's just getting used to not having him anymore."
Dawson said he and Nostrant have the same coaching philosophies. He doesn't plan to make a lot of changes.
"It about celebrating the history of the program, and putting some things I've done in the past and trying to implement," said Dawson. "It's not reinventing the wheel. We'll do some things differently, but not in a way it's completely different."
Nostrant has relocated north to Baltimore where he is Gilman's new coach. Nostrant replaces Brooks Matthews, who retired after 15 seasons and two MIAA A Conference championships.
Nostrant said he excited for "a fresh start."
"There's a lot of similarity between Gilman and Haverford, but it's exciting to get to peel back the onion and kind of go back to fundamentals and principles," said Nostrant, who won 15 Inter-Ac titles and two state championships at Haverford. "Brooks is a phenomenal coach and left me a nice team. There's no shortage of talent."
Nostrant, who regularly played MIAA A Conference programs while at Haverford, will now get a full heaping of arguably the nation's best.
"You got to change your whole mindset. You got to be healthy and bring your A-game every game," said Nostrant. "Competing in this league brings out the best in all of us."
The NHSLS presented an early start on the 2020 season for participating teams.
Conestoga (Pa.) coach Brody Bush was pleased with his team's showing despite going to 1-5.
"We're competitive which is good to see especially since a lot of our returning seniors aren't here," said Bush, whose team reached the PIAA Class 3A state final last month. "We're giving our younger guys an opportunity."
Hit by graduation after winning the Illinois state title, New Trier (Ill.) also used the NHSLS to introduce some of its newcomers for 2020.
"We're trying to figure out who will be the next guys," said New Trier assistant coach Pete Collins, who graduated three attack and five of six midfielders.
Collins was pleased with his team's defense. New Trier went 4-2 (allowed 18 goals in victories), losing to eventual Session I champ Deerfield Academy (Mass.) and perennial MIAA A stronghold Loyola Blakefield (Md.).
Highland Park (Texas), which reached the Texas Division I state final (lost to Episcopal School of Dallas) went 3-3 over the weekend.
"We don't have a ton of kids, but they were running through ground balls," said Highland Park assistant coach Rick Moses.
Archbishop Spalding Wins Session II Crown
Considered a second-tier MIAA A Conference squad, Archbishop Spalding (Md.) is slowly shedding that title. The Cavaliers won the NHSLS Session II championship.
Spalding handled Westlake (Texas), 9-2, in the final, following a 13-4 decision over Summit (N.J.) in a semifinal. The Cavaliers went 3-1 in pool play.
"We bought in and played hard," said Spalding coach Ben Phipps. "Sometimes it wasn't pretty, but we got the job done. That's kind of how we'll have success going forward."
Spalding went 9-9 (4-6 in MIAA A) this past spring but picked up a landmark first victory over Boys' Latin School. The Lakers reached their 10th straight MIAA A tournament semifinal in May.
In 2018, Spalding knocked off another MIAA A "blue blood" in Loyola Blakefield. The Cavaliers, who joined the MIAA A in 2004, have yet to qualify for postseason play.
But they're no longer any easy mark by MIAA A opponents.
"We were kind of young last year, but those kids can put up a fight," said Spalding rising senior midfielder Tucker Denault, who's committed to Jacksonville University. "I think we're a more physical and tough group. The Spalding name is definitely going to change."