The Southeast Region preview might have the biggest storylines in the country. From players on the verge of national records and teams seeking championship seasons.
From an individual player perspective, Georgia might have the most happening of any state in any region this season. The Peach State has a trio of seniors working their way up the Top 5 of the state’s all-time leading scorers and a Mercer commit looking to join rarified face-off air.
Eric Malever from Woodward Academy (Ga.) leads the way with 450 points entering the season. The Maryland commit is No. 3 all-time and it’s not impossible for him to surpass Nathan Solomon as the state’s No. 2 scorer. Malever is 173 points away from tying Solomon’s 623 and he has back-to-back 165 point seasons. He could surpass Nicky Solomon for No. 2 on the state’s goal-leaders list - needing 65 to reach that mark.
Ben Hull from Kennesaw Mountain (Ga.) is No. 5 on the scoring list with 407 career points. The Michigan commit has averaged 7.14 points per game through three seasons and is coming off one of the state’s best point seasons in history. Hull scored 144 points in 19 games last season and was one of eight players nationally to score more than 100 goals.
Brooks Baro from McIntosh (Ga.) is four goals away from 200 for his career and 64 points away from 400. He enters the year at No. 6 on the state’s point list. He needs 93 points to pass Ryan Siracusa (Centennial) on the list and with three-straight seasons of 100-plus points, it seems within reach.
Not to be overlooked, Starr’s Mill (Ga.) face-off midfielder Garrett Meuninck is another junior who will climb the national charts this season. Meuninck has 764 career face-off victories and has won 81.19 percent of his chances through three seasons. As a junior, Meuninck won 345 face-offs, so 1,000 is well within reach. With another season like last year, the Mercer commit could become just the third reported player in history with more than 1,100 career face-off victories.
Florida is moving to a multi-tiered playoff system for the first time this season with Class 1A and 2A. Every FHSAA season prior to this, there was only one champion. The sport has blossomed in the Sunshine State and the growth has brought a change in the classification system.
Ponte Vedra (Fla.) took home the title last season and will compete in Class 2A. St. Thomas Aquinas (Fla.) was last season’s runner-up and will also be in Class 2A. The 2018 champion, Jupiter (Fla.), will also be in 2A.
While Florida’s early years were highlighted by dominant teams in which the same team won multiple titles in consecutive years, recent history seems to showcase the expansion of lacrosse in the sport. St. Thomas Aquinas (Fla.) was the last team to win consecutive titles in 2016/2017. With the two-division lineup, there will likely be a first-time champion hoisting a trophy at the end of the season in at least one of those divisions.
Big Names, New Places
Chris Spaulding has the second-most state championships in Florida history with four while head coach at Lake Highland Prep (Fla.). He moved back to New York in 2017 but is back in the Sunshine State at Montverde Academy (Fla.) as the Director of Lacrosse. The Eagles head coach is Brooks Sweet who was the coach at Poly Prep Country Day School (N.Y.) where he won a New York Ivy Prep League Championship in 2011. Sweet has 85 career victories entering this season.
Pope John Paul II (Tenn.) is coming off an 11-6 season and brought in former Episcopal School Dallas (Texas) head coach Pat Kennedy. Kennedy was an assistant at Culver Academy (Ind.) last season after helming ESD for seven seasons. Kennedy brings a winning tradition with him. He has a 128-34 career record and won the 2014 Texas High School Lacrosse League championship. Kennedy takes over for Bob Page who won 125 games at Pope John Paul II since 2007. Twenty-four players return from last year’s team.