By Amy Rutledge
Having only two seniors last year, created a very young lacrosse team for the boys of BAY HIGH SCHOOL. This year, the Rockets will return a roster of players who have both gained experience and improved on the field.
“Last year’s team had only two seniors out of 30 kids,” said Bay head coach Ryan Smith. “We were full of underclassmen. The improvement was tangible from beginning of last year until the end. In the start of April, we lost 12-4 to Revere, then we beat them by four in the playoffs.”
Returning for the Rockets will be seniors Mitch Voll and Nathan Notarberardino (captain); and juniors Steve Burns, Joe Kubinski, Alex Tober and Dylan Accorti.
The team will also be looking for big things from sophomores Henri Adams, Jacob Macmillan and Jake Best as well as junior P.J. Nye and senior Reid Wilson.
“Our goal is to win games, improve our lacrosse acumen and have fun, all while representing our school and community the best we can, no matter what happens,” Smith said.
Rounding out the rest of the roster are freshmen Alex Fenner, Dan Hoke, Cole Kaucheck, Accorti Keenan, Trevor Lake, Matt Zerkle, Jonathan Spiesz, Tyler Shinko Griffin Phillips and Sam Notarberardino; sophomores Ryan Sinnema, Austin Douglas, John Hunger and Sean Meaney; and juniors Alex Tober, Brandon Farnham and Max Langer.
For WESTLAKE, a lot of freshmen and sophomores received playing time last year, and the team will return nine letter winners this season in hopes of improving on their 9-9 record from 2011.
Leading the Demons both on and off the field this year will be senior co-captains Collin Brooks and Andrew Spreng.
“Both of them bring experience, maturity, leadership and work ethic to the team,” said Demons head coach Bill Bongers. “It really helps to have a good group of seniors to rely on with such a young group.”
While the Demons have lost four-year starter Alex Chernosky from last year, they will still return their top three scoring players in Brooks (38 goals), Spreng (18 goals) and Zach Maxey (33 goals). Defenseman Tyler Sedam will also be a valuable asset on the field.
Sophomores Jake Bechtel, Paul Columbro, Adam Sandor, Gavin Skelly, Rudy Keppler and Paul Freedman will be a vital part of the team this year, having to do some “learning on the job,” while juniors Preston Roff, Ian Carmichael and Chris Korek will be asked to “step in and contribute more.”
Westlake will be looking to every game to become quicker and fundamentally better than their opponents.
“We will play several important games this year,” Bongers stated. “Traditionally, games against Rocky River and St. Edward have been great competition for us. This year we will also host the 2011 state champion Hudson. We feel if we can throw, catch and pick up loose balls better than our opponent, we will be in every game.
“We need to improve our overall team defense,” he added. “Overall the last two seasons we have lost several great defenders to graduation. This year’s group is virtually all brand-new, so our coaches have a lot of work to do. We have a number of players that play other sports like basketball, wrestling, hockey and football. These types of guys bring a certain toughness and ability to work hard.”
Coming off a 16-1 season, with their only loss of the season coming in the state semifinals, the ROCKY RIVER boys squad is the team to beat this year.
The Pirates have lost 12 seniors, including key players Matt Garibaldi (MVP last year), Luke Riemenschneider and Eric Riegelsberger.
“Our program is growing, so as much as we will miss them we hope, I think, we are at the point where we can fill many of those spots,” said head coach Steve Anderson. “We have a lot of talented young players coming up the ranks.”
Seniors John Salisbury, Ty Daugstrup (second team All-Ohio) and Adreas Tjotjos will all serve as captains for the Pirates. Tjotjos, Daugstrup and goalkeeper Aaron Blossey will be the standout players to watch this season.
“For Aaron, he is an experienced goalie,” Anderson stated. “He plays a lot in the offseason, in some big tournaments. His experience in goal for us is crucial. The goalie is really the backbone of the team, and Aaron fills that role really well.
“Adreas and Ty’s leadership is really how they play the game,” he added. “They are always giving 110 percent in practice and in games, and it really trickles down to the other players, and they see that example and are doing the same.”
Goals will be set high as 11 letter winners will return this year, and a majority of the team has playoff experience under their belts. After last year’s loss in the state semifinals, the Pirates will do everything they can to come back and clinch the title.
“We have confidence in our ability as a team,” Anderson explained. “Our expectations are high for ourselves and for our results this year. Every year it’s our goal to win a state championship.
“We take it one game at a time,” he added. “To us, every game is important because it gets us one step closer to what our goal is. As a program, the boys have worked very hard to get to this level of play. They have earned it. We’re at the point where we can achieve a lot as a team, and we are very excited about the season.”
On the girls’ side, the MAGNIFICAT Blue Streaks also have a young team, as they graduated five seniors last year. Despite the loss, the team will still have the leadership of seniors Moira Antall (captain), Caitlin Berry (captain), Katie Gallagher (captain), Alexa Wilkins, Abbie Fisher, Kristin Krystowski and Mary Margaret Mineff.
“This group of seniors is very special,” said head coach Megan Soeder. “They are an extremely motivated, competitive and talented group. They go way beyond the call of duty, both on and off the field. They are a very coachable group, and are dedicated to being successful this season.”
The Blue Streaks will see both upperclassmen and underclassmen serve as big contributors on the field, all of whom bring a different strength to the game.
“Junior Kelsey Doyle leads the offense with ball control and does a great job setting up our attack; she is helpful in transitions and plays a key part in our defense,” Soeder said. “We look to Katie Gallagher to run the defense and also do an excellent job in transition. Jo Kilbane-Myers, Maddi Cintron and Caitlin Berry make up our low offense, by shooting consistency and accuracy, serving as their strong points.
“Alyvia Wilkins, Christy Samanich and Caroline Coughlin are sophomores returning to varsity for the second year, and are expected to be strong contributors in the midfield,” Soeder added.
Even with a young team, Magnificat will be focusing in on matches with Rocky River, Medina and Hudson.
“Rocky River is always a big matchup for our girls, because they get the opportunity to play against some of their middle school teammates and classmates,” Soeder said. “Medina is state champs, and we had a close game last year against Hudson, and we are looking forward to good matchup this year. Obviously, we want to get into the state tournament. We look to utilize our strengths so we are strong on both ends of the field and in transitions.”
The ROCKY RIVER girls team is coming off a 2011 season in which it made the state final-four, but was not available for comment in time for this story.