Junior midfielder Connor Benhoff gives the Lions a strong combination of speed, toughness and experience.
“He is a scrappy midfielder who is all over the place,” Fiat said. “He is unbelievable on ground balls and faces off for us. He never gets tired. He’s in a do-it-all mode.”
Fiat is also depending on Fingles’ brother Will, a senior, at midfield.
Senior Zach Weitzel boosts the midfield after missing last year because of a shoulder injury.
Defense is where the Eagles expect to be the strongest. The unit boasts seniors Scott Tucker (Bridgewater), Matt Eibl (Virginia Military Institute), Pat Larkin and junior Ben Stevens.
The defense protects standout junior goalie Burke McManus.
“We have quite a bit of size and speed on defense,” Fiat said. “They are big, strong and physical.”
2013 record: 19-2
Coach Brian King’s quote: “We have a competitive group that is really scrappy and I’m impressed with their intensity.”
Breakdown: Hereford goes for a seventh straight state championship ready to reload and replace two four-year players that were keys to the past four titles.
Joe Seider is now the leading goal scorer (12) at Towson University as a freshman and classmate Jack Adams has aided the midfield for the Tigers.
Waiting in the wings is returning scoring threat and senior Jason Ashwood, who scored four goals in last year’s 13-3 win over Glenelg in the title game and finished with 60 goals and 43 assists.
He also played for the victorious Baltimore team in the Under Armour Lacross Underclass win over Philadelphia at Towson University.
Ashwood will be one of four forces on a attack that includes junior Neil Lavietes and sophomores Bryant Tiller and Matt Lewis, a transfer from Calvert Hall.
Adam Cerebelli, who will join Seider and Adams at Towson University next season, also played with Ashwood on the Under Armour team and he anchors a lead midfield that includes senior AJ Endres and junior Tim Popowski.
Senior Hugh Huppman and juniors Ben Bittner and Jake Schiffler are the second middies and senior Conor Williams and junior Matt Butz are the defensive middies with Williams handling faceoff duties.
Williams, Cerebelli, Ashwood and starting goalie Brock Turnbaugh have impressed King with the way they have taken a squad that returned only two starters (Cerebelli and Ashwood) under their wings.
“I’ve been impressed with their senior leadership,” King said. “All four are great leaders.”
Turnbaugh (Johns Hopkins), fresh off winning a state championship at 220 pounds at the Class 3A/4A wrestling tournament, directs a defense led by seniors Matt Gross and Coby Nettleton, sophomore Joe Patti and freshman Campbell Carr.
Senior Dom Patti (Towson University) and sophomore Mike Mozelack are the long poles up top for the Bulls, who have won a state record nine state titles.
Going for another title is a journey they have been through before, but with a schedule that includes Boys’ Latin and Gilman and some improved Baltimore County squads, King is prepared for the challenge.