Winter's cold and wet weather has made it difficult for teams to get ready for the spring season, but with the official start of spring on Thursday, Baltimore County's boys lacrosse players are eager to get going. Here is a preview of the public boys lacrosse teams at Catonsville, Dulaney, Hereford, Loch Raven, Towson and Western Tech.
2013 record: 4-9
Coach Aaron Stubb’s quote: “I would definitely say we are very strong on defense.”
Breakdown: The Comets strength on defense comes in the form of the veteran leadership of four-year varsity longstick Steve Ruppel and three-year varsity defender Jake Bredeck.
Ruppel will play at Lynchburg College next year.
Joining them on defense are junior Tommy Sadler and sophomores Denny Manley, Ray Rada and Colin Burk.
Senior AJ Beck returns in goal after missing most of last season with a knee injury.
Junior Hunter Chevron is a capable backup between the pipes.
The attack also boasts a four-year varsity player in senior Dillon Hannah.
Hannah, who will play at York College, and junior Brian Holmes are the top returning attackmen.
Senior Alex Kellerman and junior Keddrick Canady will share faceoff duties.
Longstick midfield Nick Ellsworth and shortstick middie John Noppenberger are complemented in the midfield by sophomore Andrew Peabody, whose athleticism fits right in with the rest of the Comets.
“We are a lot more athletic,” said Stubbs, who saw that in his squad’s first scrimmage. “We were more aggressive going toward the goal and we were playing a lot better pressure defense.”
2013 record: 10-6
Coach Kyle Fiat’s quote: “The team’s work ethic is incredible. What they did in the weight room and their commitment to improve is unbelievable.”
Breakdown: The Lions should turn the corner into contention for a berth in the Class 4A state semifinals after losing to Bel Air in the regional semifinal the past two seasons.
Fiat returns his most seasoned team in his four years on the job.
“I think we are a lot more deeper and experienced,” the coach said. “We had a lot of sophomores playing the last two years. Those kids are now juniors and seniors coming back. Physically, we are a lot different team. Kids are in their third and fourth year of our conditioning program.”
Senior Keegan Colegrove (Frostburg State) returns to attack after leading the Lions in scoring the past two seasons. During that time, he racked up 90 points.
The four-year starter earned first-team All-County honors last year because of his fast and accurate shot.
Senior attacker Joe Fingles (22 goals, Wesley) will complement the offense as a starter.
Junior Cameron Carter and sophomore Michel Garrett should blossom with expanded roles this spring.
“We return four attackmen,” Fiat said. “So they will have a lot of control of the offense.”
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.
“My prediction is we will take some lumps in March, but we will be pretty good in May,” King said.
2013 record: 8-9
Coach John Hanley’s quote: “They know everyone is going to play so that brings a lot of intensity to the practices.”
Breakdown: Losing 16 guys means their are plenty of starting jobs to be won and reserve roles to be filled for Hanley, whose squad has only seven seniors and 12 juniors on the roster.
Seniors Vasili Sidou and Bryce Spruill are the top returning scorers and they will be key midfielders along with senior Dave Fuchsluger and juniors Jordan Perry and Mike Goodman.
Junior Edward Countryman could also aid the midfield, but the utiltyman may be a candidate for the attack where he could join juniors A.J. Hayes, Jeremy Weber, Bobby Probst and Brad Wible.
Wible, a transfer from Parkville, is the only Raider junior with varsity experience.
Senior utility players Michael Re and John Trentalange add experience along with returning senior defenseman Michael Gillotti, T.J.. Hurley and juniors Matt Surock, Mark Dragon and Jake Decientio.
Surock’s athleticism enable him to switch from attack last season the defense.
Juniors Nolan Kent and Alex Parias are the goaltenders.
“We’ve got a growing team,” Hanley said. “I’ve got a lot of young guys.”
Loch Raven also has some tough opponents on the schedule, including 6-time state champion Hereford, Dulaney, Towson, Catonsville and Bel Air.
That should prepare the Raiders to make a run in the 2A-1A North Region playoffs where they lost in the regional semifinals last year.
“We have a good shot to be competitive in the playoffs,” Hanley said.
2013 record: 8-7
Coach John Cummings’ quote: “I really like our teamwork. We really move the ball around well.”
Breakdown: Towson returns 80 percent of its defense, the team’s top scoring attackman and Cummings hopes young blood can mesh with the veterans as the season unfolds.
Senior goalie Colby Hogan is back between the pipes and he’ll be supported by a defense of varsity veterans, including seniors Will Huckepoehler and Brian Pflaum and sophomore Graham Sevy.
The defense will be aided by long stick senior middie Josh Rittler and senior defense midfielders Ian Bailey and Nick Hayden.
“For the third year in a row, defense will be our strong point,” Cummings said.
Although the offense will not have junior attackman AJ Bosse back until late April because of a knee injury last year’s leading scorer, sophomore Jack Ware, returns to the starting attack where he will be joined by senior Bobby Ziegler and sophomore Jordan Hummel.
The first midfield includes senior veterans Noah St. John and James Psoras, along with Jordan Palmer.
The second midfield includes freshmen Jack Bell and Wes Eisenberg and sophomore Gray Selby.
Senior Dustin Lovely handles faceoff chores.
2013 record: 5-9
Coach Nathan Brooks’ quote: “I’m hoping this defense will be better because they will be a better unit.”
Breakdown: Graduation depleted most of the Wolverines’ roster, but coach Brooks is looking forward to molding an entirely new defense led by senior Necho Freeman and juniors Nadir Banfield and Demarcus Wirsing.
Freeman and Wirsing didn’t play last year and Banfield moves up from junior varsity.
Junior Okeze Mwofor played goalie on jayvee last year, but picks up a long pole this season.
Senior goalie Ajay Jani is in his third varsity season between the pipes.
“He’s absolutely been a pleasant surprise,” Brook’s said.
The midfield is anchored by senior Amani Desormeaux and juniors Matt Harrison and Harris Rashid.
Senior Brian Stokes is in his fourth season with the program and the most experience on an attack unit that includes juniors Bestman Easy and Trent Bivens.
“I’m excited about the attack unit. They are strong one on one an going to the goal,” Brooks said.
Easy should also help on faceoffs while junior Thomas Anderson and sophomore Gary Logan could help in the midfield.
“I think this is the year we turn the corner,” Brooks said.