Nike/US Lacrosse Midwest Region Report
by Jonah Rosenblum | LaxMagazine.com
Top PerformersJames McFarland, Glenbrook North (Ill.)
McFarland made an impact early against Evanston Township (Ill.), fighting his way to the front of the cage, as sticks clicked around him, to put one past the goaltender. He finished the game with four goals and two assists, showing his skills as a tough attacker and an elite passer, with a couple of strong feeds from behind the net. "James has gotten better every year," Glenbrook North coach Justin Georgacakis said. "He's got tremendous skills. He loves the game. He works hard at it, and it shows. James has really worked on his speed and gotten quicker."
Ryan Maksimovic, Glenbrook North (Ill.)
Maksimovic scored many times — and in many different ways — against Evanston, pelting the Wildkits for five goals. His first goal, in which he cranked out a shot as he dove in front of the cage like the hockey great Bobby Orr, may well have been his most impressive, but he also fired in a remarkable goal from the 11-yard line, from well wide of the net. With the cage perched on the 10-yard line, he had basically no angle to work with, and still managed to put it in. "He's pretty much in my mind one of the top attackmen in the state," Georgacakis said. "Ryan is just so creative and shifty."
Tommy Hirsch, Mason (Ohio)
Hirsch, the Comets' leading scorer in 2012, has picked up right where he left off in 2013. He's a big part of why the Comets remain undefeated, with 24 goals and 13 assists heading into Mason's victory over Upper Arlington. Hirsch is hardly the only big scorer on his team. Declan O'Grady, Austin Spears and Adam Osika all had 15-plus goals as well heading into their matchup with the Golden Bears. But Hirsch has led the way.
Games to Watch
Upper Arlington (Ohio) at Dublin Jerome (Ohio) – April 30
The Celtics had three chances to take down an elite Buckeye State foe. First a road contest at Archbishop Moeller (Ohio) turned into a double-overtime loss. Then a road contest at Worthington Kilbourne (Ohio) saw a second straight six-goal performance and a second straight loss. A chance to upset neighboring Brother Rice (Mich.) at home fell well short. Fortunately for the Celtics a win over Upper Arlington (Ohio) would make a lot of noise.
Mason (Ohio) at Carmel (Ind.) – May 3
Talk about two teams potentially heading in different directions. You have the upstart Comets turning from a contender into a power. They will potentially bring an undefeated mark into their matchup with the Greyhounds. Then, you have a recent powerhouse in Carmel, coming off a one-loss campaign with three losses already this season. For both teams, they'll face Culver Academy (Ind.) next so there will be plenty of pressure on both the Comets and the Greyhounds to get the win and pick up some momentum in advance of their upset bid of the Eagles.
1. Culver Academy (Ind.), 12-2
The Eagles did an admirable job against Canada's best, falling by five to The Hill Academy (Canada). They saved their best for their past two games, however, downing a usually competitive Louisville St. Xavier (Ky.) team 25-1 and holding off New Trier (Ill.) by five goals. The Eagles' 24-point margin of victory against the Tigers was equivalent to the total margin of defeat in Louisville St. Xavier's previous four losses combined. Culver Academy has a few tough challenges remaining. Its final four regular-season foes have a combined record of 36-6.
2. Brother Rice (Mich.), 9-2
The Warriors have rebounded well from a rough three-game stretch that featured their only two losses of the season, a lopsided loss to Culver Academy (Ind.) and a close loss to The Hill Academy (Canada). Still, an offense that exploded early in the season has scored just nine goals apiece against New Trier (Ill.), Culver Academy and Hill Academy. And that loss to an Eagles team they played close last season remains concerning.
3. Mason (Ohio), 9-0
Three games into their long grueling mid-season road trip, the Comets — and their undefeated mark — are still alive and kicking. Contests at Cincinnati St. Xavier (Ohio), which recently defeated Worthington Kilbourne (Ohio); Hudson (Ohio), which has just one loss this season; and Upper Arlington (Ohio) failed to destroy the Comets' pursuit of perfection, though Upper Arlington came close. If Mason can somehow reel off wins over Mariemont (Ohio), Carmel (Ind.) and Culver Academy (Ind.) in a four-day stretch, the Comets might well soar to the top of these rankings.
4. New Trier (Ill.), 8-2
The traditional Land of Lincoln powerhouse has recovered well from a surprising .500 finish in 2012. The Trevians have already dispatched of Carmel (Ind.) and Loyola Academy (Ill.) this season, and they competed decently against Brother Rice (Mich.) and Culver Academy (Ind.). In fact, New Trier came as close as any Midwest team has to beating Culver Academy this season. Their hardest foes now in the rearview mirror, the Trevians turn inward to face five teams from the state of Illinois.
5. Loyola Academy (Ill.), 8-2
The Ramblers still face a deadly end-of-season schedule. Their final four foes — Lyons Township (Ill.), Glenbrook North (Ill.), Culver Academy (Ind.) and Libertyville (Ill.) — have posted a combined record of 43-8 this season. Still, if any team can handle the pressure, it's Loyola Academy, led by its powerful defense. With the exception of their game against West Genesee (N.Y.), the Ramblers have yet to surrender greater than six goals in a game this season. Indeed, in those nine games, the Ramblers have surrendered just 25 goals, fewer than three scores a game. And holding New Trier to six goals certainly served notice as the postseason draws near.
6. Cathedral (Ind.), 10-1
Cathedral has embarked on a remarkable turnaround campaign. Last season against Noblesville (Ind.), the Irish fell 13-1. This season, they won 18-1. Last season against Zionsville (Ind.), they split the season series, losing the opener 15-11. This season they won 9-5. Then, most impressive of all, they nearly doubled up on Carmel (Ind.) on the road, winning 11-6. Thus far, the Irish have only one blemish, a close loss to a very good Louisville Trinity (Ky.) team — on the road.
7. Eden Prairie (Minn.), 5-0
The Eagles couldn't quite bring home a state title in 2012, but they sure seem bent on avenging that failure in 2013. They've absolutely crushed their first five foes — including decent teams in Edina (Minn.), Benilde-St. Margaret (Minn.) and Minnetonka (Minn.). In fact, no team has come within 10 goals of Eden Prairie thus far. The Eagles have already avenged two of their losses from last season. Revenge against Eastview, however, will have to wait until May 23.
8. Carmel (Ind.), 11-3
There was concern the Greyhounds' back-loaded schedule would catch up to them. It has, and even more than expected. Getting held to a single goal by Loyola Academy (Ill.) was tough. Losing to the same Cathedral (Ind.) team that Carmel had tripled up on the previous season was possibly worse. And this is not a good time for the Greyhounds to fall on hard times, with Mason (Ohio) and Culver Academy (Ind.) lurking in the not-so-distant future. For a team that lost just one game all of last season, how Carmel responds to its recent difficulties will be interesting to watch.
9. Glenbrook North (Ill.), 10-1
It's getting difficult to ignore Glenbrook North. The Spartans aren't going to awe anyone with their resume — they haven't played the same type of out-of-state opposition that rivals New Trier and Loyola Academy have — but they did knock off Libertyville (Ill.) by four goals and led New Trier heading into the fourth quarter. Contests against Loyola Academy, Saint Viator (Ill.) and Lake Forest (Ill.) to end the regular season will give an sense of Glenbrook North's elite status.
10. Dublin Jerome (Ohio), 7-3
Last season's 21-1 campaign was going to be hard to duplicate. The Buckeye State is too loaded to allow for easy dominance. Sure, the Celtics' defense has been dominant at times — surrendering just 26 goals combined over their seven wins this season, less than four per victory. But, a grueling road trip through Archbishop Moeller (Ohio) and Worthington Kilbourne (Ohio) led to Dublin Jerome's first two losses of the season. Then Brother Rice (Mich.) finished them off with a 16-10 pummeling. The Celtics responded well with an easy victory over University Detroit Jesuit (Mich.) and have a shot at a resume-building win when Upper Arlington visits on April 30.
News and Notes
Could This Be The Year?
Glenbrook North's defense is on the offensive this season.
The Spartans use the lacrosse equivalent of a full-court press to make the simple act of crossing the timeline a pain for opposing teams. Playing on the artificial turf at Memorial Stadium in Evanston, Illinois, Glenbrook North's defenders strayed beyond the hashmarks to the field numbers, continuously pushing Evanston back. It delighted coach Justin Georgacakis to be sure, who credited the work of juniors Billy Mutchnik and Paolo Manalo and Matthew Needham.
"It's a mentality that these guys have," Georgacakis said. "We've tried to do that every year for the last five years. We've had one or two guys. These guys, they get it. It's impressive. It's a warm feeling that the defense plays that aggressive. We tell them that if we get beat, we get beat, but let's get beat being aggressive. Let's not sit back on our heels and let them attack us. They get it."
Their hard work has produced results. Whether it was senior Justin Rumoro streaking across midfield to pick up a rare clean pick and then feeding it to junior Ryan Maksimovic for a goal, or the Wildkits resorting to shots from 20 yards out, the Spartans were able to affect the game. They ultimately surrendered just two goals and held Evanston off the scoreboard for the opening 16:09 to storm out to an early 5-0 lead.
With their current defensive prowess, the Spartans are off to an impressive 10-1 start. They've surrendered single-digit goals in all but one game this season, and managed to challenge New Trier on the road, even taking a lead into the fourth quarter before falling to the Trevians 9-8. It's the type of road that could lead to a state championship, but Georgacakis isn't looking there yet.
"We try not to take a look at the big picture," Georgacakis said. "We try to keep it small and we try to keep our guys lighthearted. We try to enjoy the moment. We try not to think about final scores and all of that stuff. We take it one quarter at a time."
Of course, that loss to New Trier points to one area that still needs improvement:
"We just got to continue to make ourselves play those games completely through clean," Georgacakis said. "Their guys just had a little bit more composure than us. They never lost control and started forcing things, and they made plays at the end of the game that we just didn't."
For now, however, Georgacakis is just enjoying the ride — and it's not just the wins that he has enjoyed, it's the practices and every moment he has had with his team.
"These guys have a tremendous amount of heart," Georgacakis said. "It's really fun to watch them play and watch them practice. It's been very enjoyable. The wins and all of that stuff, that's set aside, it's a good group that comes out and plays every game."
Note: The Nike/US Lacrosse Regional rankings will not necessarily reflect the same order as the Nike/US Lacrosse National Top 25 poll, which is voted on by US Lacrosse area representatives and Lacrosse Magazine contributors, who compile the regional rankings.