Nike/US Lacrosse Boys' South Season Rewind
by Laurel Pfahler | LaxMagazine.com
Year-End Top 10
1. Lake Highland Prep (Fla.), 20-3
2. Episcopal Dallas (Texas), 18-2
3. Cardinal Gibbons (N.C.), 22-0
4. Charlotte Latin (N.C.), 20-1
5. Memphis University School (Tenn.), 17-3
6. Dallas Jesuit (Texas), 15-3
7. Ponte Vedra (Fla.), 21-3
8. Northview (Ga.), 21-1
9. Benjamin (Fla.), 15-6
10. Roswell (Ga.), 17-3
South Player of the Year
Richie Loftus, Episcopal Dallas (Texas)
With a talented core of returning players, Episcopal School of Dallas entered the season as the projected favorite to win the Texas boys lacrosse state title, but Loftus played a key part in making sure it happened.
A captain with leadership roles in all three varsity sports he played, Loftus was considered the backbone of the Eagles lacrosse team, guiding it to the program's first state title in seven years and a Southwestern Preparatory Conference championship. He finished with 45 goals and 43 assists, and many of his statistics came at crucial moments late in games.
Episcopal Dallas suffered just one in-state loss this season, falling to Dallas Jesuit (Texas) in the regular-season finale, but avenged that in the state championship game. The Eagles lost the 2013 championship in overtime against St. Mark's (Texas), who they ended up beating for the SPC title this season.
Loftus, a Dartmouth commit, was a three-time all-state selection in Texas and a U.S. Lacrosse All-American this season. He was voted Episcopal Dallas' "Athlete of the Year" the past two years.
Benjamin School (Fla.)
After a slow start to the season, Buccaneers coach Shane Rye started to wonder how long it would take for his team to begin clicking.
It wasn't until a trip north that he realized part of the problem -- his players weren't meshing well off or on the field.
Benjamin lost back-to-back games at Maryland powers Severn and Calvert Hall to drop to 4-5 overall, then took a few days off "to reconfigure," Rye said. The Bucs wouldn't lose another game after that until the state championship game, finishing 15-6 and state runners-up to Lake Highland Prep (Fla.).
"We started seeing a lot of clickiness when we were with the team 24 hours (during the trip to Maryland), and it became apparent we were not a team on or off the field," Rye said. "We took their cell phones away from them, and we had some 'come-to-Jesus' like meetings with some players. The seniors had a closed-door (players only) meeting, where everyone got out a pen and paper and could say whatever they wanted. The kids just bought in after that, and we started clicking."
The Bucs also made some adjustments on offense, including moving senior Ryan Silvester from midfield to attack.
Early in the season, Benjamin struggled with turnovers and relied too heavily on an outstanding defense that ended up worn down quickly in big games. Severn (Md.) scored 12 of its 14 goals in transition, and the 14-7 loss was one of just two games in which the Bucs' opponents scored in double digits.
Silvester served as "the glue that held the team together," Rye said, especially after his shift to attack, and some of the younger players also started getting a better feel for things as the season carried on.
Among the leaders on offense, in addition to Silvester, were sophomore attacker Andrew Packer and midfielders McKenna Johnston and Colin O'Hare. The defense was led by seniors Jerry O'Connell (Yale), John Dorsett and Anthony Cicio, the team's goalie.
"We had a really good defense but if you are turning the ball over all the time, you're on defense an awful lot and your opponent is eventually going to score," Rye said. "Our best defense the second half of the year was catching and throwing better and controlling time of possession better. The improvements we saw on offense allowed our defense to stay fresh and play the way they should have been able to all along."
Rye saw immediate results, starting with the next game back in Florida – eight days after the Calvert Hall (Md.) game. Benjamin beat county rival Jupiter (Fla.) 9-5 and won 10 straight leading to the Bucs first FHSAA state final appearance, despite losing five players to injury during the team's last three wins.
"Jupiter was the turning point," Rye said. "We always knew they would play hard and we would play hard. They're a big rival, and we played with serious passion. From spring break on, we really played well. I'm proud of how they came together in the end. It was a great season."
This concludes the season-long look at the boys' South region.
2014 South Region Report Archive
- February 25 - Preseason Top 10/Player of the Year Watch List
- March 4
- March 11
- March 18
- March 25
- April 1
- April 8
- April 15
- April 22
- April 29
- May 6
- May 13
- May 20
- May 27
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