Thursday, December 18, 2014

Preseason Boys' Lacrosse Top 10

PRESEASON BOYS' LACROSSE

Records are from last season.

1. St. Augustine (12-8). The area's magnet for boys' lacrosse talent is again laced with high-level players, including junior attack Joe Eisele (33 goals, six assists in 2013), senior attack Dean DiSimone (25 goals, 13 assists), and junior goalie Ernie Alvino. The Hermits' independent schedule, featuring some of the region's best teams, likely won't produce gaudy win totals, but this is the area's most polished, battle-tested team.

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2. Moorestown (16-3). The Quakers were one of New Jersey's best teams in 2013, before suffering a crushing upset loss to Shawnee in the South Jersey Group 3 final. Several key pieces from that team graduated, including goalie Dan Willis, The Inquirer's Player of the Year in South Jersey. But plenty of talent returns, highlighted by Michael Handlan, who enters this season with 130 goals.

3. Shawnee (19-5). Shawnee is replacing coach Tim Gushue, who started the program 12 years ago. Erik Stilley, a former Gushue assistant, takes over a team with plenty of remaining talent after it won last year's South Jersey Group 3 championship. A strong defense and an offense paced by Notre Dame recruit Kyle Borbi should help ensure that Shawnee remains among the area's best.

4. Cherokee (12-5). The Chiefs showed flashes of brilliance throughout 2013 and bring back just about every key player from that squad. The offense should have as much firepower as any in South Jersey. It's a unit led by senior midfielder Chris Rispo (28 goals, 19 assists), junior attack Jordan Krug (30 goals, 12 assists), and junior midfielder Ryan Vallen (24 goals, 14 assists).

5. Seneca (20-2). Fresh off its most successful season, Seneca should still be one of South Jersey's best teams despite graduating offensive juggernaut Tyler Schulte, who ended his career with a South Jersey-record 224 goals. Seneca returns plenty on offense, including senior attack Dan O'Keefe (53 goals, 54 assists) and senior midfielder Nick LeSaint (30 goals).

6. Lenape (12-8). Lenape must replace a strong and tight-knit senior class, including goalie Eric Leonard and attack Reed Hoffman. But the Indians remain one of the area's best teams, particularly on offense. Andrew Streilein, who recorded 57 goals and 21 assists last season, leads that unit.

7. West Deptford (16-5). The Eagles have been one of the area's most consistent programs since starting varsity lacrosse in 2005. This year, they return seven starters. West Deptford is talented all over the field and is led by Nick Ellis, who transferred from regional power St. Joseph's Prep last year.

8. Haddonfield (8-12). The Bulldogs came on strong late last season, winning five of their final seven games, with losses coming to state powers Moorestown and Bernards. In his third year, coach Damon Legato continues to refine the program. And there should be plenty of talent this year to take the next step, led by senior midfielder Dan Halla.

9. Kingsway (11-8). Kingsway must replace prolific offensive weapon Tim Kemner, who generated 96 points last season. But the Dragons are one of the area's most consistent teams and bring back five starters among 22 returning letter-winners. Junior attack Billy Moran, who recorded 60 points last season, is a dangerous player.

10. Washington Township (9-9). Under second-year coach Dan Fowler, the Minutemen return a balanced team in each third of the field. This squad, led by T.J. Mulderig, Ryan Hunsicker, and Alex Chalef, should be in line for a winning season.

- Chris Melchiorre

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