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Local lacrosse programs expect to compete deep into postseason

Rocky River is a senior-laden team and will rely on the experience of Bobby Perez, left, and other upperclassmen to get back to the Division II state championship game, while Bay is hoping for the quick maturation of its underclassmen such as junior Jake Best, right, to get back to the Sweet 16. (West Life photos by Ryan Kaczmarski)

Varsity Lacrosse Season Previews 2013

By Ryan Kaczmarski

What used to be a niche sport from the east coast, invented by Native Americans, has infiltrated almost every local municipality, and from the looks of things, lacrosse is here to stay.

The ROCKY RIVER boys team is coming off a 2012 season in which the team went 15-4, and came one victory shy of a Division II state championship. For the Pirates to get back to the state title game, this year’s upperclassmen will have to carry the torch handed to them by last year’s seniors.

“Our team last year had some very special seniors that truly understood the meaning of ‘team-lacrosse,’” Pirates head coach Steve Anderson said. “Each player contributed greatly to the success of our season and will be greatly missed.

“We have experienced players at each position that we hope will step up this year,” he added. “All of our players understand the expectations we as coaches have set forth for them and believe they will do everything in their power to live up to those expectations.”

Most of the seniors on this year’s squad have played for Anderson since he took over the program in 2010.

“We have a fairly large senior class, including Bobby Perez on attack; Eric Sperli, Mason Wilhelmy and Bennett Kellogg at midfield; and Michael Dickey, Matt Cook and Aaron Blossey on defense and in goal,” Anderson said. “Most (of them) played in the state semifinals in 2011 and all played in the state finals in 2012, so my hope is that their experience in those games will enable us to continue our success this season.”

According to Anderson, the Pirates will always play with a positive attitude and their goal is to win the Division II state championship. (See the story on the Rocky River girls program in the 4/17/13 sports archives)

The BAY boys also has high expectations – after wins over long-time programs Chagrin Falls and Walsh Jesuit and an appearance at the Division II state Sweet 16 last season.

“We had two ‘give-away’ losses (last year), where we went 14 for 96 shooting, losing by a combined five goals,” Rockets head coach Ryan Smith said. “We need to execute fundamentals better (this season).”

Senior captain Joe Kubinski leads the defense, along with seniors Alex Tobar and Sam Notarberardino, in front of senior P.J. Nye in goal.

“They’re rangy and athletic,” Smith said. “Senior Dlyan Accorti is ready to shine at long-stick midfield. (This is) the deepest midfield we’ve had in our five years as a varsity program. Senior Brandon Farnham is having his best season so far and junior Jake Best will make an impact. We’re also looking for breakout seasons from sophomores Trevor Lake and Danny Hoke.

“The offensive slack is being picked up by senior Steve Burns at the attack, who set a new school record with 58 goals in 2012.”

Rounding out the attack are juniors Jacob MacMillan and Henri Adams.

“The team goal is to improve each day fundamentally and tactically, therefore peaking when it counts, the playoffs in May.”

This is the second season for the Bay girls varsity program, and it is looking to build on last year’s success that included a 5-7 record and a playoff victory over Beaumont.

The team has a number of returning letter winners, led by junior midfielder and team captain Sophie Steyns.

“Sophie takes many of the draws for the team and was last year’s leading scorer,” Bay girls varsity head coach Dave Lowery said.

Returning seniors Ellie Faile, Megan Kiss and Kendall Phillips will look to leave their mark in their final season. The team has a large number of strong juniors including attackers Kerrigan Barry, Katie Bricmont, and Rearden Hardy and Lauren Kapes. Top junior midfielders include Krista Blumentalis, Jordan Holmes, Kelsey Reilly, Alyssa Rossi, Abbey Sinatra, Margaret Sullivan, Betsy Weber and Baylee White. The defense is anchored by juniors Emma Grubaugh, Ellen Hanna, Norah Hoke, Rachel Jerome and Kelly McBride.

The team features many sophomores who played varsity as freshmen including Allison Finley, Katie Galang, Jessica Guinter, Brita Jelen, Katherine Kerka, Bailey Lempke, Megan Lowery, Natalie Rezek and Audrey Sullivan.
“The team includes a number of very good athletes who are still learning the finer points of the game of lacrosse, including stick skills,” Lowery said. “Our goals for the team are to finish above .500 and win at least one playoff game. Another goal for the program is to develop a number of first year players who are on the junior varsity team.”
The WESTLAKE varsity boys team returns 13 lettermen, including eight starters from last year’s squad that went 10-7, including a playoff victory.
The key returning players include Paul Columbro, Jake Bechtel, Ben Steigerwald and Adam Sandor on offense; Preston Roff, Devon Kodger and Clay Wichman on defense; and Paul Freedman in goal.
Key newcomers to the team are Paul Angala, Dillon Schneider, Jeremy Simon, Hunter Solecki, Alex Barth, Alex Dvorak, Nate Greenberg and Chris Humer.
“Our defense will be the strength of the team,” Demons head coach Bill Bongers said. “It begins with Paul Freedman, who has started in goal for two seasons.
“We will need to replace all the scoring that graduated between Jake Bechtel, Jeremy Simon and Adam Sandor.”
MAGNIFICAT has come off a 2012 season in which the Blue Streaks were 8-8-1.
“We have a very young core of players that have moved up to replace graduating seniors,” head coach William Yankow said. “Sophomore Brooke McQuinn will take on the role of center and  sophomore  Olivia Stafford will return in the goal for us this season. After an exceptional freshman year, (Stafford) will look to return to her late season form. These two, along with senior Kelsey Doyle and sophomores Jillian Zavoda and Mary Kate Durkin, will look to lead the offense and defense this season.”
Joanna Kilbane Myers, Kelsey Doyle, and Alyson Roth are serving as this year’s captains.
“They will add the experience we need in order to assist the coaching staff with bringing the younger players along as well as setting a high bar for expected performance both on and off the field,” Yankow said. “Our overall season outlook and goals are to move up in our overall ranking in the Northern District of Ohio, and in doing so set ourselves up in a good position for playoffs, and building off a disappointing loss last year in the playoffs, we are looking to make a run to Columbus this year.”

 

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