Getting everyone on the same page and playing as one, focused is the goal at Catonsville and Mount St. Joseph, as both boys lacrosse teams try to build on last season.
The squads will see how they are meshing when they tangle at Mount St. Joe on Friday, April 5 at 5 p.m.
Mount St. Joe, which features several players from the Catonsville area, won last year's meeting, 9-4, in a downpour.
Western Tech coach Nathan Brooks is excited about the turnout for this year's squad, while Lansdowne's Tyler Martin sees his group hungry for more victories.
Read on to see who will be playing for your favorite boys lacrosse team this season.
Record last year: 11-7
Coach Aaron Stubbs's quote: "I really believe if we can come together as a team, we have a shot to go far in the playoffs."
Breakdown: Catonsville lost in the Class 3A-4A North Region semifinals to Howard and coach Stubbs knows if they are to go further they need to develop leaders and players with the highest of expectations.
"I'm just trying to find their mindset," Stubbs said. "Do they want to just play for a team or do they want to play for a state championship."
Stubbs has a burning desire to win.
For that to happen, the experienced attack that includes seniors Drew Carlson, Parker Croom and Tyler Westphal and junior three-year varsity performer Dillon Hannah will have to lead the way.
Leading the midfield are senior veterans Tim Burk and Cody Scott, along with junior Teddy Crayton and sophomores Sean Hurd and Brian Holmes.
Crayton, a standout tight end for the football team, was moved up to varsity from junior varsity last season.
"He's fast and if he can get his stick skills down, he will be a great help for us," Stubbs said.
"Defensively, junior Stephen Ruppel is in his third season starting on varsity and he'll be counted on to bring along sophomore longsticks Jake Bredick and Tommy Saddler.
Bredick was on varsity last season along with defensive reserves Trey Weinkam and Connor Stuart-Paul and junior newcomer Nicholas Ellsworth.
David Ossing takes over in goal after being a reserve to Jon Reymann last season.
The Comets open the regular season on March 22 at Sparrows Point. They play their first home game at 1 p.m. on Saturday, March 30 against Good Counsel.
Record last year: 1-11
Coach Tyler Martin's quote: "We are very athletic, but our stickwork is not to the level of kids who have played six or seven years."
Breakdown: Most of Martin's Vikings began playing the sport once they got to Lansdowne so the coach will have to rely on the veterans who have been in the program four years.
That veteran group includes senior attackmen Billy Linton and Caleb Chavis and senior midfielders Justin Smith and Shawn Brown.
Chavis proved his versatility late last season when he moved to goalie late in the season and was most impressive in the Vikings' 7-3 triumph over Parkville for their only win of the season.
With Chavis back scoring goals, it will be up to senior goalies Matthew Papier and junior Colton Trevey to earn the position stopping them.
"Both are trying to land the starting spot," Martin said.
Junior Danny Nicholson is the most experienced defender and he'll be joined by senior Rodney Jones and juniors Romario Orellano and Matthew Randall.
Besides veterans Brown and Smith, the midfield features seniors Brandon Murphy, Quentin Muhammed and Jon Echevarria.
Brown moves from attack to the midfield where Smith looks like a strong scoring threat.
"He (Smith) is really coming on strong," said Martin, noting he is a quiet leader.
The coach has also been pleasantly surprised by the development of Murphy who is in his first season of lacrosse.
He was unable to play last spring because of his committment to acting in the school play.
"He will definitely be an asset," Martin said. "He's a strong player."
Martin also likes his squad's pre-season dedication.
"All the guys are really amped up because of the fact we had such little success last season," he said.
Mount St. Joseph
Record last year: 12-8
Coach Dave Slafkosky's quote: "I think if we are going to be a good team, we better play as a team."
Slafkosky took over the head coaching position after the Gaels went winless in 2010 and they won just one game in his first season in 2011.
Last year, his goal was to win at least one Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference game, and the 12-8 Gaels won twice in the league, beating St. Paul's and McDonogh.
This year's squad has started 3-0 with wins over St. Albans, 11-5, St. John's, 8-2 and John Carroll, 18-4.
The Gael attack features High Point University recruit Mike LeClair, a senior, who was the leading scorer the past two seasons.
Sophomore varsity veteran Shawn Carter joins LeClair along with sophomores John Norton and Tyler Snyder and freshman Jimmy Lucas vying for the third spot.
Catonsville residents Clay Kirby, a junior, and seniors Cody Larkin and Conor Silvestri man the midfield along with seniors Blake Prescott and Dan Chamberlain and junior Kyle Costabile.
Goalie Colin Reymann, also from Catonsville, will play at Salisbury University next season after starting between the pipes for the second straight year.
Senior Connor Lawson is a capable backup keeper.
Seniors Jack Cook and Kevin Breitenother and sophomore Joey Lucas anchor the defense.
Tyler Snyder and Nick Willertz are improving sophomores who should make and impact in the mdfield as the season unfolds.
"I've got a really young team," said Slafkosky, noting he has 13 sophomores and two freshmen on varsity. "I'm not sure where we are going to be in a month when the league season starts."
Record last year: 2-11
Coach Nathan Brook's quote: "The minimum goal is .500, but I want us to out perform that."
Breakdown: Brooks had to make cuts for the first time this season as the return of several football players, along with some returning veterans, gives him more flexibility and depth.
"It looks like midfield is going to be our strength," Brooks said.
Seniors Evens Cross and Justin Streater return to the midfield after taking last season off and they will be joined by Mike Smith, in his fourth season in the program.
That trio should provide the most offensive punch, while long pole senior middies Davon Charles and Raynard Billy and junior Karndeep Singh will provide defensive stability.
Seniors Tony Simuel and Jordan Jackson and juniors Akash Bajpi and Amani Desormeaux add midfield depth.
That depth allowed Brooks to move senior Tavon Green to attack, where he'll share the scoring chores with seniors Junior Fuondjing and Richard Sofoluke and junior Jacob Ramos.
Senior Kristian Simon is a heavy hitter on defense, while senior Samad Husain and Ryan Ashley bring stability to the backline in front of junior goalie Ajay Jani.
Jani was brought up late last season to play between the pipes and Ashley can also fill in on attack.
"I have a lot more versatility," said Brooks, who can also employ senior Neel Patel and junior Brian Stokes on attack. "I'm excited."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun