The Midwest Region preview, presented by LaxRecords.com features a four-part series. Part three looks at states and teams in the region.
Random Region Notes
Rockhurst (Ks.) appears primed for a championship run this season. Twenty-two players, including Mason Vasta (Air Force) who had 33 points in nine games last season. Eight starters return and the defense should be strong with the return of goalie Michael Kuklenski along with defensemen Tommy Eckels, Slayton Smith, Simon Williams (Lindenwood), and Jack Scanlon.
Shawnee Mission East (Ks.) returns attackman Cade Eldred (Richmond) and midfielder William Mohr (Amherst). Shawnee has won the last two state championships. The Lancers have won 19 games in each of the last two seasons. An early-season trip to St. Louis pits the Lancers against DeSmet Jesuit (Mo.), St. Louis University (Mo.) and MICDS (Mo.).
Lake Forest (Ill.) is bringing back a majority of its team from last year with 19 of 30 players coming back from a team that reached the sectional finals last year. Conor Armstrong, Nate Field, Nick Winebrenner, Charlie Silver, John Walsh, and Rich Hoskins highlight the returnees. Head Coach Marc Thiergart is confident with his returning players, which includes several underclassmen and a transfer student from Maryland.
New Trier (Ill.) is the defending state champion and returns 23 players from the team that went 20-5. The defense should once again be the team’s strong suit with goalie Cooper Yaccino, defenseman James Hemmer and LSMs DJ Nolan and Tyler Nolan returning. Midfielders Johnny Hackett and Jessi Shapiro also return.
St. Rita (Ill.) was a sectional runner-up last season and boasts Jack Nolan (Marquette) at midfield among its 10 returning players. Midfielder Michael Gaugham (2021) is an athlete who could play Division I football or lacrosse. St. Rita opens the season on the East Coast with St. Albans (D.C.) and defending IAC champion Georgetown Prep (Md.). Loyola Academy is on the schedule twice and along with Culver Academy’s varsity team, Head Coach Jim Juchcinski should have his team battle-tested by the time the playoffs roll around.
St. Viator (Ill.) has twin midfielders heading to Lafayette in Connor and Jacob Freeman in addition to face-off specialist Vincenzo Lombardo (Bellarmine) and midfielder Michael Campagna (Illinois Wesleyan) coming back this season. Giovanni Armocida (Wagner) will help anchor the defense. Viator went 14-8 last season and reached the sectional semifinals against Glenbrook North (Ill.) last season.
Cathedral (Ind.) has been one of the top teams in Indiana for more than a decade. The Irish have been in the state title game every season since 2011, except for 2018. Head Coach Andy Gruber has 257 career wins and five state championships in his career. Twenty-one players from last year’s 19-3 squad, including face-off midfielder Sam Bedich and senior attackmen Jack Neidlinger and Nico LoPresti. Cathedral will be relying upon its faceoff and offense early as its defense gains experience against some of the top teams in the Midwest. Young guns Kevin Berutich (midfield) and John Petruzzi (midfield) along with attackman Jeffrey Utzinger gives Gruber depth to go with some of his offensive experience.
Culver Academy (Ind.) boasts a Division I lineup a season after finishing 20-1 and claiming a Co-No. 1 ranking by Inside Lacrosse. The Eagles will once again be in contention for a national No. 1 with a schedule that includes Boys’ Latin (Md.), McDonogh (Md.), Haverford School (Pa.) and Gonzaga (D.C.). They also play in the Midwest Lacrosse Challenge and the National Prep Lacrosse Championship. Head Coach Jon Posner enters the year with 272 career victories. Owen Hiltz (Syracuse) is considered the No. 1 attackman in the nation and he is not the highest-rated player on the roster, according to Inside Lacrosse. Junior midfielder Ty English (North Carolina) takes that honor.
Hamilton SouthEastern (Ind.) should be a title contender this season after going 18-5 returning 18 players from the state finalist. HSE has a deep and talented 2021 class, highlighted by Ryan Kemp (attack), Ty DeSplinter (LSM) and Michael Metheny (midfield). Senior Cannon Eslbury will help anchor the defense. Hamilton has reached the state championship game in each of the last two seasons.
Westfield (Ind.) returns an experienced lineup with 17 players coming back after a 14-7 finish in 2019. Head Coach Troy Dinkel will lean on returnees Parker Ruggles, Jack Green, Landon Lawrence, Braden Breedlove, Shannon Bola along with Zac Altecruse and Cam Leinhart this season.
Park Tudor (Ind.) finished 7-6 last season and returns 15 players, of which more than 70 percent are sophomores and freshmen. Senior attack Zach Aldridge and junior Tate Surtani lend upper-class leadership on offense and junior goalie Charlie Rominger anchors the defense.
Birmingham (Mich.) went 11-4 last year and reached the region semifinal. Eighteen players return to the lineup, including defender Nick Lamb (Detroit Mercy). Lamb helps anchor a defense that should be the strength for Head Coach Nicholas Stensen.
Brother Rice (Mich.) was among the nation’s best teams last season and plays some of the top teams in the midwest this season. A road game against St. Ignatius along with contests against Archbishop Moeller, St. Xavier (Ohio) and rival Detroit Catholic Central. The Warriors return attackmen Jay Frye (Roanoke) and Jordan Hyde (Utah) along with defenders Mason Everly (Rutgers) and Jack Lockwood (Marist). Brother Rice’s defense allowed only 117 goals while its offense racked up 390 goals last season.
Detroit Catholic Central (Mich.) only lost four games last season, with three of those coming at the hands of Brother Rice. Connor Baratta (Rutgers) will kick off the offense at the face-off. Jacob Sposita (Colgate) returns to the midfield. The Shamrocks get their first shot at Brother Rice on April 7. A late April road trip will pit DCC against New Trier on April 24.
Flint Powers (Mich.) went 9-7 last season and brings back 11 players. Fidel Carino and Luke Phillpotts will highlight the midfield. They are two of the most athletic players in the state with the ability to dodge and score at will and play both sides of the field and dangerous in the clearing game, both were named to the All-State Team as juniors and looking to lead the team this season. Trey Snodgrass (LSM), Jake Engel (defense), Tristen Brenner (defense) and Noah Gadola (goalie), all have played on Varsity since their respective freshman years and look to lead our defense this season.
Forest Hills Central (Mich.) looks to get back on top of Division II for the second consecutive season. Jackson Clay (High Point) returns after earning First Team All-State last season. Clay is the younger brother of Michigan’s all-time scoring leader, Bryce Clay. Twenty players return for Head Coach Andy Shira who guided the team to a 22-1 record last season. Chris Junkunc (defense) anchors the defense.
Hartland (Mich.) has a new head coach this season in Nick Levanti. He has returning all-state First Team selection Bo Lockwood returning after a 112 point freshman season. Brandon Plemmons (Michigan) was First Team All-State at midfield and Jack Gualtieri (Florida Southern) also return from a team that finished 17-2 last season.
Grosse Pointe South (Mich.) brings back 11 players from its 14-5 squad. Head Coach Justin Macksoud has compiled a 23-13 record since taking over the program and has an experienced attack unit with seniors Stuart Standish and Chuck Ulbrich along with junior Miles Wujek returning.
Benilde-St. Margaret (Minn.) is loaded with Division I talent this season. The midfield boasts Matt Dowden (High Point) and Patrick Burns (Providence) along with face-off man Jack Budniewski (Colgate). Jack VanOverbeke (High Point) leads the attack. Jack Keller (York) returns in goal.
Prior Lake (Minn.) became the first team in Minnesota to win back-to-back titles since Eden Prairie (Minn.) won two straight in 2013 and 2014. They went 16-3 last season and their Top 4 leading scorers graduated.
MICDS (Mo.) graduated two of its all-time best players in Graham Bundy and Thomas Niedringhaus. Those two players are among the state’s all-time leading scorers. Head Coach Andy Kay has led the Rams to three-straight state championships. Early-season key games include home games against Shawnee Mission East, New Trier and Episcopal Dallas (Texas). A road game against Memphis University School (Tenn.) will continue a mid-season slate of games that includes three defending champions.
Anderson (Ohio) enters its third season as a program and boasts 10 seniors who helped start the program as sophomores. Fifteen players return for Head Coach Joe Kiss, including Austin Murphy (attack), Luke Silva (goalie) and Evan Cote (defense).
Archbishop Moeller (Ohio) is coming off a 15-7 season in which they were Region 4 runner-ups. The Crusaders return 21 players, including five players committed to play lacrosse in college. Head Coach Sean McGinnis has compiled a 78-50 record at Moeller and leads a team that is should be strong at face-offs and offense this season. Theo Becker (Cleveland State) and Lane Miller (Cleveland State) lead the returning group.
Buckeye Valley (Ohio) has a first-year head coach in Eric Staley and returns seven players. Among the seven returning players Staley will count on are Reid Lajeunesse (midfield), Mitch Schneider, (midfield), Matthew Zinn (attack) and junior Nolan Pienta (midfield).
Dublin Jerome (Ohio) went 16-6 last season and reached the state quarterfinal last season. The Celtics return defenders Zach Dubois (Mercer), and Anthony Monte from a team that allowed only 95 goals last season.
Elder Cincinnati (Ohio) brings back 38 players and will rely on its senior leadership to improve upon last year’s 8-10 record. Seniors Ben Koopman (attack) and Chase Schaerer (midfield) will be among the leaders. Sophomores Andrew Spinney (defense) and Joe Streicher along with freshman Daniel Bibent (face-off) will be among the young players that will give head coach Tim Gruber depth.
Gilmour Academy (Ohio) reached the Division 2, Region 6 quarterfinal and finished the season with a 10-5 record. Head Coach Jim Scully has a career record of 106-62 and returns 16 players from last year’s squad. Senior defenders Bryce Hofstrom and Aidan Muchnicki highlight the returnees. The Lancers should have athletic depth with several newcomers, including Dylan Dekoe (midfield) and Tanon Bajzer (attack).
Indian Hill (Ohio) graduated a large senior class comprised of All-Americans and All-State players from a region finalist squad. Nine players return to the lineup, including seniors Garrett Anderson (attack), Josh West (defense), Duke Wyler (midfielder) and David Borden (face-off midfield). This year's Indian Hill team is led but a great group of seniors and is stacked with young talent and athleticism.
St. Ignatius (Ohio) heads into the season as one of the favorites in Ohio with more than 20 seniors on the roster, including their top three scorers from last season. Michigan commit Michael Boehm who set program records for goals, assists, and points for both career and season during his junior season returns along with Connor Cmiel (Ohio State), Merick Hartley, and Jack Welcsh. Boehm scored 71 goals and 47 assists for 118 points as a junior, which were all career highs. Cmiel tallied 68 points from midfield.
St. Xavier (Ohio) plays defending champions in Illinois (New Trier) and Michigan (Brother Rice) by April 4 this season. The Bombers also take on St. Xavier (Ky.), the Kentucky defending state champion in mid-April. Head Coach Nate Sprong brings back eight of 10 starters and 90 percent of his scoring from last season. Seniors Noah Reidy and Andrew Green in addition to midfielders Quinn Evans (Roanoke) and Luke Vrsansky. along with Jack Deeley will be among the team's strengths. Luke McMurry and Michael Bevington return on defense.
Turpin (Ohio) returns most of its key players from last season. With 21 seniors on the roster, Turpin isn't short on experience. The only key losses were midfielders Michael Hooper (44 points, 85 gbs, 1st team All-Region, 3rd team All-State) and Tanner Wessels (43 points, 2nd team All-Region). Last year's leading scorer, Reece Evans (40g, 26a - 2nd Team All-Region), is not expected to play after sustaining an ACL injury during the football season. The team returns it's entire starting defense - Jake Bolin (2nd Team All Region), Tanner Klimkowski (2nd Team All-Region) and Cole Kueper. Zach Gardner returns as the starting LSM. Since the 2017 season, the Spartans have posted a 33-24 record, and have progressed one round further each year in the playoffs. Look for them to improve on their round of 16 finish in the small school division.
Walsh Jesuit (Ohio) reached the Division 2 Sweet 16 and returns 20 players. Face-off specialist Simon Orzell is a key returnee along with all four starting poles. Junior goalie Nick Jarosewich has been a starter since his freshman season and anchors the defense with Alex Sullin (2021), Luke Haag (2020) and Dillon Coughlin (2020). Walsh Jesuit won 12-straight games towards the end of 2019 before falling in the Sweet 16.
Kettle Moraine (Wisc.) returns junior Nolan Rappis who was second on the team with 113 points last season. The Lasers went 19-4 and won the Wisconsin state championship, outscoring its opponents 344-186. But four of the Top 5 scorers graduated. Nick Randgaard and Chaz Renaud were 6th and 7th in scoring on the team last season and will have a chance to step up to fill the void.
Middleton (Wisc.) graduated its top scorer (Kevin Grelle), but brings back its NO. 2, 3 and 5 scorers from the team that were state runner-up last season. Drew Teff (58 points) and Jack Schutte (51 points) return to an offense that scored 263 goals last season.
Sauk Prairie (Wisc.) brings back the state’s second-leading scorer in Cameron Logan. The senior scored 114 points for a team that LaxNumbers.com ranked 3rd in the state and scored 247 goals. Nine of the Eagles leading scorers last season were all underclassmen and return in 2020. Willy Hanson (93 points) and Riley Jelinek (91) points round out the Top 3.