Boys Lacrosse Team Preview: Brother Rice boasts one of its best teams
Birmingham – For a program like Birmingham Brother Rice, one that has won every Division 1 lacrosse state championship, some would think that motivation could become an issue at some point.
But the Warriors have more than enough incentive on a year-in, year-out basis, with trying to continue the winning tradition.
“Obviously, we’ve had a great amount of success over the past 20 years,” Brother Rice coach Ajay Chawla said. “I think part of what keeps them motivated is that they don’t want to be the team that lets the ball drop, so to speak. So there’s a motivation on the players’ part and some peer motivation to keep it going.”
Along with wanting to continue being the team to beat in the state each season, Brother Rice continues to strive for more than just regional goals.
The Warriors are also out to achieve national recognition this year.
Senior Morgan Macko said that not only does he and his teammates look for respect on a national level, but they have a goal of being ranked as one of the top 15 teams in the country in 2016.
“Everyone loves to be in the Top 25 nationally, it’s a huge honor,” he said. “Our goal is to remain in the top 15 in that area, obviously, we’re not there yet, but we have a couple of big games that could hopefully boost us in the rankings.”
Chawla said that while his team does look for national rankings, it can be difficult because of Michigan High School Athletic Association rules.
“Our goal every year is to be a world class program,” he said. “We strive for that and as much as you want to believe that we don’t watch the polls nationally, we absolutely watch the polls nationally. We don’t get a lot of respect nationally and part of that is the 300 mile rule that the MHSAA imposes on us, so we can’t go out and play the top teams in our sport, so it becomes very hard.”
Brother Rice is currently ranked No. 25 in the country according to the Under Armor/Inside Lacrosse Week 7 rankings.
The Warriors are led by 14 seniors including Macko who is arguably the state’s top offensive player. Senior Riley North and junior Erik Schmidt are also key attackmen who will help pace Brother Rice offensively.
James Scane (Robert Morris), Erik Schmidt (Michigan), Daniel Reaume (Pennsylvania) and Cole Hyde (Mercyhurst) lead a very deep group of middies for the Warriors.
Seniors Luke Cappetto (University of Maryland-Baltimore), Brian Cosgrove (Fairfield) and Jack O’Hara lead a stellar defensive line for the Warriors in front of the top goalies in the Midwest in Ross Reason.
Reason said a big goal for every member of the team is to continue the tradition that the Brother Rice program has built over the years
“It’s maintaining the legacy that’s here,” he said. “Every team in the past, since the sport’s been sanctioned (by MHSAA) has won a state championship. It’s our responsibility to win every year and I don’t think we’re going to lose any time soon.”
Brother Rice’s only loss through nine games this season is to Culver Academy in Indiana, the No. 1 ranked team in the Midwest.
OTHER TEAMS TO WATCH (ALPHABETICAL ORDER)
DETROIT CATHOLIC CENTRAL – Catholic Central has high expectations this spring with the goal of playing in the state championship game in June. Led by senior midfielder Alex Jarzambowski and Rocco Mularoni. The latter scored the game winning goal in the semifinals last year and netted five goals in the championship game loss to Brother Rice, Catholic Central will be one of the favorites to return to the state finals. Goalkeeper Hunter Braun is a player that coach Dave Wilson calls a key to his team’s success this year.
DETROIT COUNTRY DAY – Despite only returning a handful of key contributors from last year’s team, Country Day figures to be one of the teams that figure to be in the mix to advance to the state finals in June. Led by senior Cooper Belanger, four year starter Matthew Dolan, Jonathon Bows, Jackson White and Owen Sappington, Country Day will be one of the most balanced teams in the state on both ends of the field in 2016.
U-D JESUIT – With several key contributors from last year’s team returning this spring, the Cubs will rely heavily on its senior class as they hope to challenge for a state championship. Led by captain and four-year starter, Ryan Byrd, in goal and an offense spearheaded by seniors Mike Baccanari and Teddy Apap, who coach Tom Shermataro says have accounted for 85% of his team’s goals so far this year. Senior Lenny Froehlich has emerged as a key face-off player.
EAST GRAND RAPIDS – One of the perennial top teams from the west side of the state, the Pioneers look like a team that will once again compete for a Division 2 title. Led by senior star Matt Solberg (Amherst) and Hub Hejna, East Grand Rapids has proven to be one of the state’s top offensive teams so far this season. Cole Mehney, Luke Elder and Joe Bolea along with Jake Rogers who has been a top faceoff player have led the way in the midfield for the Pioneers. A young defense is led by captain Pierce Ruppert along with Patrick Morgan, Harry Boeschenstein and Brenden Micho playing in front of one of two goalies, Jack Diehm and Nick Milanowski.
GRAND RAPIDS FOREST HILLS CENTRAL – Already off to a strong start in 2016, Forest Hills Central has its eyes on returning to the Division 2 title game for the first time since 2013. Offensively, the Rangers are led by sophomore Attackman Bryce Clay, who recorded 146 points as a freshman, along with junior Tanner Hallock and midfielder Patrick English. The defense is anchored by returning captain Andrew Clay. Freshman Logan Wedder has played a key role on face-offs so far this year.
HARTLAND – Off to a strong start this year, which includes a win over Culver Academy’s varsity team, Hartland has its sights set on a state finals appearance. Anchored by seniors Scott Wistenhousen, who already has tallied 20 points this season, and Lucas Laforge, the Eagles will be one of the more balanced teams. The Eagles have also had key contributions from Jeff Putz, Jake Diem and Reese Potter early on this season.
LAKE ORION – After finishing 2015 with a 7-12 record, the Dragons have emerged as one of the state’s top teams in 2016 as they have gotten out to an 8-0 start. Returning All-State player Jacob Chapie along with Chris French and Drew Hubbard have led the Dragons offensively. Eric Dietz and Jack McClear have helped lead the way on the defensive end. Seniors Daniel DiPonio and Cole Schafer are key leaders in the midfield this year for the Dragons who earned a key win over Clarkston last weekend.
NORTHVILLE – Northville has gotten out to a 6-4 record and coach Greg Durham expects his team to once again peak towards the end of the season in time for the postseason. Senior midfielder Harry Dyson will help lead the Mustangs on both ends and Brennan Sweeney has gotten out to a strong start this season according to Durham, who also expects Connor Sweeney to be a key contributor as well. Freshman Jeff Varner has played well in goal for Northville this spring.
PONTIAC NOTRE DAME PREP – The Irish have a senior laden team with 23 seniors. Led by defenders Ian Genord and Joe Kalas, Notre Dame Prep is aiming to advance to the Division 2 semifinals. Look for Ryan Genord, Griffin Morris and Mitch Woodrich to pace the offensive attack for the Irish.
ROCKFORD – With 18 seniors Rockford will have one of the deeper teams in the state. The Rams have four reliable players on their attack line with sophomores Brian Bera and Cam Kostus, junior Connor Gillis and senior Beau Port. Port is steadily working his back from a knee injury. Coach Mike Dewitt has been pleasantly surprised by his team’s defense early on this season. This group is led by sophomore Nolan Darby and a midfield core led by Marshall BanBelkum, who has been the go-to player on face-offs this spring.
TEMPERANCE BEDFORD – The Kicking Mules will be one of the more dangerous teams on the offensive end led by attackman Jake Johnson. Backing Johnson is junior Ian Tyburski, who plays both in the midfield on offense as an attackman. Jack Dively has been the go-to player on face-offs for Bedford and has had strong showings in several games so far.