April 2, 2013

Nike/US Lacrosse South Region Report

by Laurel Pfahler | LaxMagazine.com

Related: National Top 25 | Northeast | Mid-Atlantic | Midwest | West

Top Performers

Zach Coker, Dallas Jesuit (Texas)

The senior attackman helped the Rangers overcome in-state rival St. Mark's, scoring a game-high four goals in a 9-5 win on March 20. Unfortunately, Coker broke his hand six days later in a 5-3 win over Plano West and likely is done for the season. He is the team's leading scorer.

Tate Boyce, McCallie (Tenn.)

The sophomore goalie had 17 saves in the Blue Tornado's 9-8 win over Severn (Md.) on March 22 and also recorded nine saves while splitting time in a 15-4 win over Pope (Ga.) on March 16.

Billy Roll, Lake Highland (Fla.)

The senior midfielder had six goals, six assists, six ground balls and three takeaways combined in the Highlanders' last two games, wins over St. Thomas Aquinas and Tampa Jesuit. Roll has 31 goals and 39 assists to lead Lake Highland in points with 70.

Games to watch

Highland Park (Texas) at Dallas Jesuit (Texas) – April 13, 3 p.m.

This is a rematch of a state semifinal last year that Highland Park won 5-4 before going on to win the championship. Dallas Jesuit had beaten Highland Park 14-7 earlier in the year and also won a 2011 regular-season game before finishing as the state runners up. Both teams are coming off tough stretches in their schedule, but this game will be a good test for the postseason.

Lake Norman (N.C.) at Milton (Ga.) – April 13, 4:30 p.m.

A battle of two state champions, this Legacy Cup game will help make the rankings a little more clear. Both teams have a loss to other South Region-ranked teams with Lake Norman having a loss to Highland Park (Texas) and Milton just coming off a loss to St. Thomas Aquinas (Fla.). Milton will be playing also-ranked McCallie (Tenn.) the day before.

1. St. Andrew's (Fla.), 11-2

The Scots went 3-0 over the last two weeks, but narrowly escaped Tampa Jesuit (Fla.) in a 10-9 win on March 22. St. Andrew's turned the ball over nine times and took just six shots in the third quarter, but managed to pull out the win despite being outplayed much of the game. Leading scorer Conor Whipple had three goals and an assist to help put the Scots over the top, and starting goalie Corey Etcheverry saved 9 of 13 shots on goal (69 percent) in the first half.

2. Dallas Jesuit (Texas), 10-1

The Rangers, whose only loss was 11-9 to Gilman (Md.), picked up a notable win over 2012 state runner-up St. Mark's on March 20, beating the Lions 9-5 to give them their second loss of the season. Dallas Jesuit now has won two straight against St. Mark's, including an 8-4 win last year. The Rangers also defeated previously unbeaten Houston Christian, 8-4, on March 23. Dan Morris, a Maryland commit, has been solid in goal.

3. The Woodlands (Texas), 13-0

The Highlanders move up from the No. 8 spot as they continue to roll in Texas. They haven't tested themselves against out-of-state competition, but they have seen some of the top teams in Texas. The Woodlands' wins include games over ranked Highland Park, 10-win Houston Christian and St. John's which is 9-2. Jake Williams won 15 of 19 faceoffs and had five ground balls in a 17-7 victory over Houston Christian on March 29.

4. Jupiter (Fla.), 9-2

The Warriors suffered a 10-8 loss March 19 to a then-undefeated Vero Beach team they beat twice last year, but they quickly rebounded with an impressive 12-8 win over St. Thomas Aquinas, who was undefeated at the time. Jupiter also earned a decisive 18-3 win over Tampa Jesuit. The Warriors' other loss was a 6-5 overtime game against St. Andrew's earlier this season. Senior midfielder Daniel Soviero leads Jupiter's attack with 18 goals, six assists, and the defense is spearheaded by sophomore Connor Alexander, a Duke commit who has 36 ground balls and 20 takeaways.

5. McCallie (Tenn.), 7-1

The Blue Tornado makes its debut in the rankings after picking up victories against Pope (Ga.) and Severn (Md.). McCallie's lone loss, though a blowout, came against Calvert Hall (Md.), a team that has been ranked No. 13 nationally. The Tornado also owns a 16-9 in-state win over Memphis University School, who lost by only one to two of the top teams in Texas, Highland Park and St. Mark's.

6. Lake Highland Prep (Fla.), 10-4

The Highlanders return to the list as they continue to gain momentum with a notable win over previous No. 5-ranked St. Thomas Aquinas (Fla.) 12-11 on March 26. They had fallen out after a loss against Benjamin (Fla.), which is currently 9-1. Lake Highland's other losses include two to teams ranked in the South (Jupiter and St. Andrew's) and a 13-9 loss to national No. 1 Boys' Latin (Md.).

7. Highland Park (Texas), 8-1

The Fighting Scots jump back into the rankings for the first time since the preseason, as they've gone 8-0 since dropping their opener 3-2 to still unbeaten The Woodlands (Texas). Highland Park went 4-0 against a mixed bag of out-of-state opponents, including handing Lake Norman (N.C.) its only loss 11-8. The Scots also earned a notable in-state win over Episcopal Dallas.

8. St. Thomas Aquinas (Fla.), 9-2

The Raiders fall from the No. 5 spot after losses to Jupiter (Fla.) and Lake Highland Prep (Fla.), but a 15-7 win over previous No. 3 Milton (Ga.) on March 30 keeps them from dropping too far. St. Thomas was still competitive in its losses to Jupiter (12-8 on March 21) and Lake Highland (12-11 on March 26).

9. Milton (Ga.), 10-1

The Eagles continue to beat the best competition in Georgia – adding wins over Roswell and Etowah to the collection that also included Lassiter, Lambert and Walton – and they picked up an out-of-state win over Hatboro-Horsham (Pa.) on March 29. However, Milton hit a bump against St. Thomas Aquinas (Fla.) the next day in a 15-7 loss. Jarred Wellam had four goals in the win over Hatboro-Horsham.

10. Lake Norman (N.C.), 9-1

The defending North Carolina High School Athletic Association state champion Wildcats have been dominant against in-state opponents. Their only loss was to Highland Park (Texas), 11-8, on March 11. In Lake Norman's other nine games, the defense has allowed just 14 goals combined while posting three shutouts.

News and Notes

Dallas Jesuit (Texas) bounced back from its loss to Gilman (Md.) with four wins in six days, a stretch of in-state games coach Chris Surran scheduled to test his players for the postseason.

"To win a state championship in Texas, you have to play two games in two days, back-to-back games, and that's not something you do all the time, so you've got to get used to it," Surran said. "I wanted to make sure the guys had to deal with scenarios like that. We played a lot of different styles and we learned we could win in different ways."

The Rangers have to learn to win without top scorer Zach Coker, who broke his hand in the last game against Plano West. Surran said midfielders such as Garrett Van de Ven (Duke), Carson Buell (Rollins), Sam Rosengarden (Jacksonville) and Lee Belland will need to step up in Coker's absence.

The Rangers still have two big tests ahead with defending state champion Highland Park and Episcopal Dallas among their last four regular-season games.

Lessons Learned

Jupiter (Fla.) coach Danny Loftus didn't make any excuses for his team's loss to Vero Beach (Fla.), but hopes the game can be a reminder "it's anyone's game" as the postseason draws closer.

The Warriors surprised perennial power St. Andrew's (Fla.), taking the Scots to overtime before falling 6-5 on March 14, but the very next game, Vero Beach removed some of their steam.

"That was part of a tough stretch of games we went through, but by no means did we overlook Vero Beach," Loftus said. "They rung our bell, and it humbles you. I think it was maybe what the kids needed."

Loftus said the St. Andrew's game showed the Warriors they could compete with just about anyone. They lost to the Scots 10-7 in the state semifinals last year.

"It helped for our kids to believe we can beat anyone, but what we learned in the last couple weeks is you can lose to anyone too," Loftus said.

Still worth a look

Episcopal Dallas (7-4) dropped out from the No. 6 spot after four-straight losses during a challenging portion of the schedule, but still remain a team to watch. After suffering an 11-8 loss to defending state champion Highland Park (Texas), they fell short in games against three teams from the D.C.-Maryland areas.

Lassiter (Ga.) dropped out this week from the No. 7 spot after an 8-7 loss to an up-and-down Walton team on March 28. The Trojans' only other loss was 14-12 to Milton. ... Louisville Trinity (Ky.), previously ranked ninth, remains undefeated and could return to the list with a win over Louisville St. Xavier (Ky.) on April 10. St. Xavier (6-1) is another team to keep an eye, as it plays three Virginia teams and one-loss Brentwood (Tenn.) Lacrosse Club before Trinity. ... Previous No. 10 St. Mark's (Texas) has lost its last three games in arguably the toughest portion of the schedule, falling to Episcopal Dallas, Dallas Jesuit and Arapahoe (Colo.), the No. 2 team in the West at the time. ... Florida teams Benjamin (9-1) and Vero Beach (9-1) have wins over ranked opponents, and Lake Brantley (11-0) will test Lake Highland Prep on April 11.

Check back to LaxMagazine.com every other Tuesday throughout the high school season for updates to the Nike/US Lacrosse Regional Boys' Top 10 rankings and the Nike/US Lacrosse National Boys' Top 25.


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