The Southeast Region is loaded with teams and storylines for the 2020 high school lacrosse season.
Random Region Notes
Mountain Brook (Ala.) has lost only one game in the last two years and seeks its third-straight Division I title.
Alonso (Fla.) will be lead by Tyler Wagner (2020) and Kennedy Klaus (2021) at attack. Both players scored more than 80 points each last year and highlight a squad that returns 19 players from a 12-5 team. Dante Mendez will take face-offs for Head Coach Eric Klaus.
Cardinal Mooney (Fla.) won District 17 last year and reached the Elite 8. They are coming off back-to-back 21-2 seasons, but lost its all-time leading scorer, MJ McMahon, to graduation. IMG Academy transfer Drew Snyder should help balance out McMahon’s loss at attack and compliment JP Jackson (Boston) who enters the year with 225 career points. Mike Bavaro is a three-year starter at attack and that trio should help the Cougar’s offense, which scored 340 goals last season. Defensively, Luca Dominquez (2020) and Anthony Fayette (2021) are both three-year starters. Ryan Bolduc returns after missing last season due to injury. The Cougars will be hosting its 3rd Annual Sticks 4 Soldiers Tournament to benefit a Wounded Warrior residing in Florida this season. St Edward’s (Fla.), Melbourne Central Catholic (Fla.), and Riverview (Fla.) will join Cardinal Mooney for the two-day event March 20-21 in Sarasota.
IMG Academy (Fla.) boasts a roster that rivals Culver Academy (Ind.) in terms of Division I recruits. Matteo Corsi (Syracuse), and Evan Conway (Navy) lead the attack unit. Goalies Carson Baer (High Point) and Jack Liselli (VMI) anchor a defense that includes Owen Geis (Sacred Heart), Max Becker (Colorado College) and C.W. Smith (Mount St. Mary’s). Their schedule is equally impressive. Games against Gilman (Md.), Seton Hall Prep (N.J.), Avon Old Farms (Conn.) and Salisbury School (Conn.) highlight the schedule.
Immokalee (Fla.) reached the District 19 finals last season and finished 11-8. The Indians count senior Juan Chavez at attack and junior goalie Noel Martinez among its 11 players returning this season.
Nease (Fla.) looks to build upon last season with 13 varsity lettermen returning to the lineup. Head Coach Max Gurowski has a blend of experience and youth and will compete in Florida’s new Class 2A. Defenders Brady Deschenes (2021) and Matt Pounder (2020, LSM) along with face-off midfielder Christian House (2021) highlight the returnees.
Oviedo (Fla.) will play in Division 2 in Florida and returns 12 players from an 11-7 squad. Defense and midfield should be strong with Julian VanDeventer (defense), Cole Gehring (midfield), Tanner Sims (midfield) and Nolan Emel (defense).
Oxbridge Academy (Fla.) lost All-American goalie Christian Tomei to graduation, but return 12 players from the District 25 champion. Jake Proctor will be a key newcomer in the goal. Reece Riccardo and Vinny Ceracuolo anchor the attack line and face-off specialist Adam Stowell kicks off the offense. Head Coach Stan Ross expects the defense to be the strength of this year’s team with Mike Knapp, George Wandoff, Evan Sullivan and Liam Storkerson leading the way.
Ponte Vedra (Fla.) broke through with a Florida state title last year and is the favorite to win it again in 2020. However, star Dylan Hess (Georgetown) is expected to miss most, if not all, of the season with an injury. They have seven Division I commits in their lineup and even with the possible loss of Hess, Head Coach Tom West still has a midfield group with Carter Parlette (Notre Dame), Freddie Amato (Lehigh), and Joe Taraboletti (Denver). The Sharks boast a schedule with defending Georgia state champion Walton, Gilman (Md.), Boys’ Latin (Md.), McDonogh (Md.) along with Lake Highland Prep (Fla.), Montverde Academy (Fla.) and Cardinal Mooney (Fla.).
St. Andrew’s (Fla.) has Corey Frydman (UMass) and Louie Adams (Amherst) returning on the defensive end of the field. The Scots allowed only 121 goals last season. North Carolina commit Michael Lizzio returns to anchor the midfield.
Georgia has not had a back-to-back champion since Roswell won two-straight in 2014 and 2015. Several teams once again appear primed for a title run in 2020.
Lambert (Ga.) went 20-2 and was the state runner-up last season. The Longhorns are the epitome of ‘reloading not rebuilding’ and return 21 players, including Johns Hopkins commit Patrick Deans on defense. Head Coach Josh Sagel expects the defense to once again be the team’s strength.
Lassiter (Ga.) boasts three Division I commits at attack in Andrew Atchison (Denver) and Braden Erksa (Maryland) and Ethan Cox (Utah), giving the Trojans and impressive offensive punch. Lassiter outscored its opponents by 161 goals last season - 287-126. Defensively, they will be led by Perry Kramer, Max Tock and Carson Dickson. Kramer, Atchison, Erksa and Tock are returning all-state selections.
Walton (Ga.) won the Class 7A/6A championship over Lambert last season and is bringing back three Division I commits in Tate Harran (Bellarmine), Drew Pritts (Sacred Heart) and James Gurr (Ohio State). Pritts earned Third Team All-State honors last season. Lee Butler earned Third Team All-State at attack and also returns. The midfielders will help the Raiders through an early-season schedule that included Westminster (Ga.), Lambert (ga.) and then a road game against Ponte Vedra.
Westminster (Ga.) returns senior midfielders William Graves (Haverford), Paul Weathington (Princeton) and Ryan Chambliss (Swarthmore) from a team that finished 20-3 and won that Class 5A championship. Head Coach Tony Souza has more championships than any other coach in Georgia history (7) and is the state’s all-time wins leader with 285.
Lexington Dunbar (Ky.) gets a new coaching staff this season for the first time in eight seasons, led by Head Coach Lance Antoine. Dunbar was a quarterfinalist last season and returns 18 players, including seniors Alex Natale (attack), Tommy Baird (midfield), Mick Jenkins (attack/midfield), Chris Williams (defense) and Michael Blakemore (LSM).
Louisville Male (Ky.) returns a balanced scoring unit, led by Seth Cianfoni who enters the season with 200 career points. The Maryville commit will lead a group of attackmen and midfielders highlighted by seniors Max Jones and Evan Meredith.
St. Xavier (Ky.) won it all last year to finish with a 21-2 record. The Tigers had the biggest goal differential of any team in the state by outscoring their opponents by an average of 6.37 goals per game. The offense tallied 399 goals last season while the defense allowed just 136. Attackman Ben Hubbs returns to the lineup to help lead the attack unit.
Trinity (Ky.) was No. 2 in Kentucky last season and is looking to get back to No. 1 for the first time since 2017. St. Xavier has won the last two KSLL championships since Trinity won it all in 2017. The Shamrocks defense was their strong point last season, allowing only 130 goals all season. They allowed double-digit goals five times last season, but only twice to in-state teams - both of those were to St. Xavier.
Loyola Shreveport (La.) returns its entire defense, LSM, and face-off specialist from last year’s team. Loyola has been to three of the last four state semifinals and will lean on senior returnees Steven Beruvides (LSM), Will Weaver (attack), Noah Courtman (midfield) and Colton Krauss (goalie). Coach John Sella says despite the team’s success, “the play on the field may sometimes be overshadowed by the more popular and infamous "Bench Mob." The Loyola "Bench-Mob" keeps the sideline alive with choreographed celebrations for goals, face-offs and caused turnovers. Regardless of the score, the "Bench-Mob" is sure to make their presence known.”
Cardinal Gibbons (N.C.) head coach Alex Buckley has won four state championships, including winning it all last season. Buckley said his team lost a talented senior group, but 25 players return, including three already committed to play lacrosse in college. The Crusaders have several tough games against out-of-state teams, including Loyola-Blakefield (Md.), Penn Charter (Pa.), St. Anthony’s (N.Y.), Landon (Md.) and Bullis (Md.).
Christ School (N.C.) has been the team to beat in the NCISAA, North Carolina’s private school playoff system. The Greenies have won three-straight Division I titles, but Jeff Miles who guided those teams to titles stepped down to become the Head of School at Rabun Gap-Nacoochee (Ga.). The Greenies named assistant coach and defensive coordinator Ryan Herrmann as his replacement. Herrmann brings back a solid nucleus of players with Davis Lindsey at atack and goalie Beau Hecimovich. Lindsey has 311 career points and is 10 points away from becoming the program’s all-time leading scorer.
This is a big year for Fuquay-Varina (N.C.) as they have the talent to compete at the highest level in the state and the opportunity for their first playoff berth in program history. Logan Wheeler (Barton College), is currently the school's all-time points leader (137) and leads a team of seasoned veterans. Wheeler has the chance to eclipse the 200 career points mark in 2020. Brad Wheeler takes over as the Head Coach as Fuquay-Varina enters a new conference in which they’ll play Middle Creek, Apex and Holly Springs. Seniors Matt Lyons, Sean McCarty (Florida Southern), Cody Seaman, Wesley Ilg and Kori Stewart all return.
Lake Norman (N.C.) won it all in 2018 and finished 16-3 last season. Drew Elder (Ohio State) will start things off at the face-off with Tucker Goodelle (Villanova) leading the attack unit. Towson commit Travis Maynard returns to the midfield.
Middle Creek (N.C.) went 18-3 last season and reached the 4A semifinals. This year’s Mustang squad will be young with six players returning, including Nathan Greenberg (midfield). The defense should be strong with seniors, Ben Lever and Luke McDonald (LSM) along with junior Christian Daniels. Per usual, Middle Creek will have a tough schedule with state powers Apex (N.C.), Lake Norman (N.C.) and defending state champions Cardinal Gibbons and Weddington (N.C.) on tap.
New Hanover (N.C.) returns the state’s leading scorer in Kyle Hatcher who scored 140 points on 102 goals and 38 assists. Bryan Balland is one of the area’s top goalies and also returns. Defenders Jack Barbee and Colby Mckaskill are also among the 16 players coming back from last year’s 11-9 squad.
Weddington (N.C.) goes for its fourth-straight 1A/2A/3A title this season. The Warriors return Anthony Todaro who enters the year with 230 points and a shot at 300 for his career. The Binghamton commit scored 80 points last season. Colby Barsz (Towson) returns to anchor the defense with Will Shipley coming back to the midfield.
A.C. Flora (S.C.) reached the Final Four last season and returns 15 players, including leading scorer William King. King had 110 points last season and is committed to St. Joseph’s.
Fort Mill (S.C.) snapped Wando’s streak of four-straight championships last season and won its first state title since 2014. Former Head Coach Parker Thomas is no longer with the program after leaving for Legion Collegiate Academy (S.C.). Michael Desmond takes over the Yellow Jackets program and enters his first year as a head coach. Six players return from the state championship team, including face-off specialist Josh Sturgeon. With losses to graduation, Desmond is going to ask a lot from his two-way midfielders Ben Elia, Mac Reilly, Spencer Evans, George Mandon, and Evan Chapman. Sophomore attackman Camden Marks and freshman Danny Anderson are expected to step up to fill the void left by last seasons leading point-getters lost to graduation in Conner Baucom (Hampden-Sydney) and Jack McGuire (Mercer College).
Oceanside Collegiate (S.C.) has been a contender since it launched the program in 2017. The Landsharks have won back-to-back Class 4A championships under Head Coach Tom Harris. Oceanside returns Cole Sweeney (Furman) to a defense that allowed just 151 goals in 17 games. Senior Owen Ciali was second on the team in scoring last season with 46 points. Cooper Rhue (senior) was third with 44 points and sophomore Adam Lipsky (34 points) makes it three of the top five scorers coming back from last year’s team.
Wando (S.C.) has been the standard of lacrosse in South Carolina, winning six championships since 2010 and reaching the state championship game nine times in that span. Head Coach Lance Renes has 130 wins entering the season.
Montgomery Bell Academy (Tenn.) won the Private Division I State Championship last season for the first time since 2006. The Big Red returns 19 players. All-American and Player of the Year Stephen Avery (Denver) leads the attack after scoring 81 points last season, including a five-point performance in the championship game.
McCallie School (Tenn.) has a new head coach for the first time in 27 years. Troy Kemp stepped down to take a senior administrator position at Ron Clark Academy and the Blue Tornado hired assistant coach Eamon Thornton.
Dallas Jesuit (Texas) has a schedule that boasts St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes (Va.), Torrey Pines (Calif.) and Loyola-Los Angeles (Calif.). Head Coach Chris Surran brings back Tommy Hovivian (Navy), Billy Metz (Providence) and Sam Teachout (Johns Hopkins) to the lineup.
Episcopal Dallas (Texas) won the Division I championship in Jay Sothoron’s first season and with nine players committed to college programs, they could be among the favorites to contend in 2020. Reed Landin (Duke), Kyle Rolley (Syracuse), Drew Wasserman (Utah), Caden Dundon (North Carolina) and Henry Watson (Ohio State) highlight the returning players.
Highland Park (Texas) was the state runner-up last year after reaching the Final Four in 2018 under head coach Richard Moses. The Scots boast four Division I commits in the lineup in Thomas Mencke (Harvard), Drew Scott (Ohio State), Andrew Bonnett (Colgate) and Jake Jent (Lafayette). The program is celebrating its 25th season this year.
The Woodlands (Texas) returns attackman Dylan Binney (Loyola) and face-off specialist Grant Isika (Drexel), but the defense should be the Highlanders strength this season. Furman commit James Pendley and Ohio State commit Diego Zimmerman return and Matthew Nunes (Virginia) anchors the goal.
TMI-Episcopal School (Texas) returns nine players from last year’s 7-6 playoff team. Seniors Cam Lynch (defense) and Caden Fincke (attack/midfield) will provide leadership to a young team that head coach Blake Skinner will guide.