Nike/US Lacrosse Midwest Region Report
by Jonah Rosenblum | LaxMagazine.com
Erika Neuman, Rockford (Mich.)
With the Rams jumping out to a 9-0 start and making a strong case for inclusion in the regional Top 10, Neuman deserves a lot of credit for her team's success. After all, it's important to remember that Rockford was just 5-4 after nine games last season. Neuman with performances like her eight-goal outburst in the Rams' 10-4 win over Cranbrook Kingswood (Mich.) has put this season in a different direction.
Nicole Stines, Upper Arlington (Ohio)
Much of the attention frequently falls on the Farwick sisters, but Stines has also proven herself as a superb midfielder, scoring five of the Golden Bears' 15 goals in a critical 15-14 win over Worthington Kilbourne (Ohio). Stines will be playing at the next level, as she will attend the University of Findlay next year.
Sam Zwolan, Ann Arbor Pioneer (Mich.)
Zwolan has been piling up the goals for Ann Arbor Pioneer, and at times, her team has needed every one of them. Her five goals helped Ann Arbor Pioneer build a huge early lead that would nearly vanish in a 15-12 win over Flint Powers Catholic (Mich.). Earlier in the season, she matched five goals with five assists in an Ann Arbor Pioneer romp over Saline (Mich.). And when the competition got tough, Zwolan persisted, scoring four times against Lake Forest (Ill.).
Games to Watch
Edina (Minn.) vs. Montini Catholic (Ill.) – April 27
The Hornets' first stab at out-of-state competition didn't go so well, as they lost to Loyola Academy (Ill.) 16-5. That being said, Loyola Academy is an awfully tough way to begin a season. This time, the Hornets should be a little more warmed up, and it will be a great chance to prove themselves against another rising power in the Broncos. The Broncos have amazed everybody with their fast start, but Edina will represent their first chance to prove themselves outside of the Land of Lincoln.
Loyola Academy (Ill.) at Lake Forest (Ill.) – April 30If the Scouts are going to claim their place among the Land of Lincoln's elite, they'll eventually have to beat some of the state's top teams. Their first try against New Trier (Ill.) didn't go so well, as they fell 11-6. Thankfully for Lake Forest, plenty of chances remain as games against Lyons Township (Ill.) and Hinsdale Central (Ill.) help lead into a match against perennial powerhouse Loyola Academy. The Ramblers doubled up on the Scouts last season, 18-7.
1. Loyola Academy (Ill.), 7-3
The Ramblers have played 10 games thus far, and just four have come against in-state foes. Loyola Academy has continued to challenge itself outside of the Land of Lincoln, and has come up with two fairly impressive wins over Edina (Minn.), 16-5, and East Grand Rapids (Mich.), 14-9. The Ramblers' defense has been tested this season with the slate of high-caliber opponents they've taken on, as Loyola has surrendered double-digit scoring totals on four occasions in 2013.
2. Mason (Ohio), 11-0
It hasn't exactly been a walk in the park for the Comets, but they've persevered through some close contests to remain perfect. Five of their last six wins have come by four goals or fewer — including an overtime win over New Albany (Ohio), a 7-6 win over Quaker Valley (Pa.) and a two-goal decision over Sycamore (Ohio). With the wins over Sycamore, New Albany and Mariemont (Ohio), the Comets have already avenged three of their eight losses from last season.
3. Upper Arlington (Ohio), 5-1
The Golden Bears were forced to break into an immediate sprint this season, as they saw their first game action at the Dogwood Classic. Their second game of the season came against Peach State power Walton (Ga.), a formidable challenge, and not surprisingly, they fell in a high-scoring affair. But ever since, Upper Arlington has been more than up to par, scoring a critical road win at Worthington Kilbourne (Ohio) and nearly blanking a pair of in-state foes. Dublin Coffman, Medina and New Albany should provide further in-state challenges in the next couple of weeks.
4. East Grand Rapids (Mich.), 6-1
The Pioneers' one loss carries no shame — they are hardly the first team to lose to Loyola Academy (Ill.) after all, and they did put up nine goals on the Ramblers. They have also surrendered just eight goals combined over their past three games. A 6-2 win over a usually dangerous Okemos (Mich.) squad was also quite impressive. It's good to see that East Grand Rapids, which went 28-0 last season, hasn't suffered any letdown following its loss to Loyola Academy. The Pioneers have no space for that, with tough matches against Medina (Ohio), Catholic Central (Mich.), Hartland (Mich.), Rockford (Mich.) and New Albany (Ohio) upcoming.
5. New Trier (Ill.), 5-2
After a tough trip out East, the Trevians came back to the Land of Lincoln and unleashed all of their rage on Maine South (Ill.) 22-0. They followed with an 11-6 win over Lake Forest (Ill.). New Trier could conceivably win out, with six of its final eight coming against in-state competition, and the Trevians beat all but one of their remaining foes last season. In their season finale, they'll look for revenge against Sycamore (Ohio). By then, their record should look far more impressive.
6. Sycamore (Ohio), 4-1
It was a close call between the Aviators and the Battling Bees when it came to not only picking the Buckeye State's best team nickname, but also the state's third-best lacrosse squad. Medina has the slightly better record, but Sycamore gets the edge, because it doubled up on an impressive out-of-state opponent in Glenbrook South (Ill.) and because it gave a really good Mason (Ohio) team a run for its money on the road. Sycamore's last four games — two wins, a tie and a loss — have all been decided by three goals or fewer.
7. Lake Forest (Ill.), 5-1
Tim Allen has been talking about "Pure Michigan" for a while now, and the Scouts recently experienced the appeal of the Great Lakes State. Lake Forest suffered a disappointing loss to New Trier early in the season, but they got the vacation they needed in Michigan, posting an impressive 15-7 win over Ann Arbor Pioneer and a 9-6 victory over Caledonia. The Scouts hope to bring that Pure Michigan zest into the duration of their road trip as they take on tough in-state foes in Lyons Township and Hinsdale Central.
8. Culver Academy (Ind.), 6-0
So far, so good for the Eagles, who recently avenged last season's postseason loss to Carmel (Ind.) with a 12-10 victory over the Greyhounds. They also doubled up on a Brebeuf Jesuit Prep (Ind.) team that they needed extra time to beat last season. With the exception of its close win over Carmel, Culver Academy has yet to surrender more than seven goals in a game this season. With the Eagles' relatively soft schedule this season, they could easily win out — at least until they see Carmel in the postseason.
9. Montini Catholic (Ill.), 7-0
The Broncos may well equal last season's win total by the end of April. They've absolutely dominated their first seven foes, scoring 18-plus goals in six of their first seven and 24-plus in three of their last four. No team has come within nine goals of Montini Catholic thus far. Of course, the Broncos' back-loaded schedule, with games against New Trier (Ill.), Lake Forest (Ill.) and Loyola Academy (Ill.) still to come, means that their record could fall quickly in the next couple of weeks.
10. Eden Prairie (Minn.), 3-0
It's very hard to gauge the state of Minnesota since very few games have been played thus far. In one of the few important games that has been played, Eden Prairie crushed Lakeville North (Minn.) 16-7. They have scored 50 goals over their first three games, so it appears the winter slumber did little to freeze their offensive attack. That being said, the competition is about to skyrocket for Eden Prairie. The Eagles' last two opponents, Wayzata (Minn.) and Hopkins (Minn.) finished a combined 3-25 last season. Their next three, Edina (Minn.), Minnetonka (Minn.) and Loyola Academy (Ill.) finished 46-12.
News and Notes
Frequent Flier Miles
Loyola (Ill.) has roamed the country this season — and the Ramblers have seen far more than lacrosse fields along the way.
With the Ramblers in the Washington D.C. area for the St. Stephen's and St. Agnes Spring Fling, they got plenty of lacrosse in, playing six games in four days, but they also wandered beyond the pitch and made their way to the Jefferson Memorial and the World War II Memorial. Previous trips have involved the Tomb of the Unknown Solider and other monuments, memorials and museums in the area.
"We try to also make it somewhat of a cultural event as well for our players and our families that go," Loyola coach John Dwyer said. "They're there for an additional reason other than just lacrosse."
At the Jefferson Memorial, the Ramblers got to enjoy the tidal basin even if the cherry blossoms had yet to bloom, according to Dwyer. At the World War II Memorial, Dwyer and his athletes enjoyed a moment of shared history.
"So many of our families, my father and a bunch of the girls' grandparents, spent a great deal of time in the World War II campaigns," Dwyer said. "So anytime you're in the National Mall, our kids know that doesn't mean shopping."
They also engaged in a talent show, which tends to poke fun at Dwyer, according to the coach. They attended Mass at Georgetown University. And they played some of the best teams in the country.
"We know that's asking a lot of our kids to play that many games in that short of a period of time. It probably has a slightly negative impact on our ability to win all of the games, but we can't make excuses for that," Dwyer said. "Being a Jesuit school, our mission is to educate the whole person, and we try to do that, even within the athletic program, we feel that's still very important."
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. LM contributors compile the regional rankings.
Check back to LaxMagazine.com every other Tuesday throughout the high school season for updates to the Nike/US Lacrosse Regional Girls' Top 10 rankings and the Nike/US Lacrosse National Girls' Top 25.