The St. Margaret’s Tartans are a storied and established Orange County Lacrosse tradition, no one would argue this fact. This year’s squad feels very new, however, in several ways. Since taking over at St. Margaret’s for Gerry Manning, head coach Glen Miles has experienced both championship success and growing pains. In 2013 the Tartans rode a 20 game win streak to win the CIF Southern Section; this was Miles’ first year coaching the Tartans. It was an underdog story with a noticeable lack of injuries or other obstacles once the team began to gel. In 2014 the Tartans faced several obstacles that tested coach Miles’ program. A sort of reality check, after a very wondrous and storybook season. The team finished the 2014 season at 9-8, ultimately losing to JSerra in a thriller in the second round of the playoffs.

This year the Tartans begin to gel again and MaxLax has them ranked 4th to start the 2015 season.

What We Know

The Tartans return a lot of experienced players, most of whom have seen what its like to be the best in the Southern Section. The main losses to graduation are in the midfield. Josh Davis, Connor Fallon, and Hunter Edington (Manhatten) were all seniors last year who established themselves as one of the OC’s top midfield core. Davis and Edington played significantly since freshman year, and were offensive wizards by the time they left. Most of the team returns though, with plenty of experience to fill the missing shoes.

The Tartans are arguably the most experienced and qualified on the defensive side of the field. Seniors lead the squad, helmed by Villanova commit Fernando Delgado. Delgado is a team-first player who stepped into goal last year when Payton Fales was injured. He has garnered several accolades in football and lacrosse, indicating his athleticism. Despite all this Delgado is extremely coachable, having fully committed himself to coach Miles’ teachings. Combining Delgado’s athleticism with coach-ability makes him one of the scariest defenders in the county. Delgado will be joined on defense by fellow classmate John Connelly. Connelly played extensively during the 2013 championship run and anchored the defense last year, and there should be no doubt he is hungry to prove himself as one of the elite defenders in the OC. Juniors Zack Shore and Nick Totah have worked tirelessly throughout the offseason to also earn key roles on defense this year. Expect to see these four all play a big part in the Tartan’s success this season.

In goal, Payton Fales returns from a rough opening season. After transferring from Huntington Beach the goalie had a few stellar games to start the season, but was sidelined when a hand injury plagued him for most of the remainder of the year. St. Margaret’s will rely heavily on Fales’ play, and how well he can gel with and lead the Tartan’s defensive core.

On offense you might have a hard time keeping track of where the ball is, and if there is one ‘go-to-guy’ for St. Margarets. The Tartans return their entire starting line of attackmen. Senior Paddy Fallon leads juniors Nick Shanks and Samuel Harnisch on attack for St. Margarets. Samuel Harnisch has been a prolific attackman since his freshman year, while Shanks and Fallon proved last year they can be extremely lethal and potent offensive threats. All three have similar game. Though being undersized might prove an issue, all three are scrappers and hustlers. They combine this attitude with explosiveness, high octane shift speed (especially Shanks who can run by most defenders in the county), and expert shooting and passing ability. The three seem to be one and the same; their advantage is their unselfishness and willingness to buy into a system that benefits the whole team. For the Tartans, the offensive meta-philosophy is moving away from start players flanked by finishers and feeders, and moving towards a settled 6-v-6 of players that are all on equal footing and all expected to be able to run every position in the offense. Denver University’s recent success is indicative of this offensive stye. Coach Miles is installing offensive systems that can benefit any type of team, as long as they are willing to buy in and make the smart plays.

We expect Ryan Harnisch (Denver) to again be dominating opponents on face-offs and play a very large role in running midfield and scoring goals for the Tartans. Ryan Harnisch has been a dominating force in Orange County lacrosse for years and we expect him to have another big year for the Tartans. Don’t be surprised to see All-County honors next to Harnisch’s name at the end of the season. We also expect Junior midfielder Kevin Cox and senior midfielder Nick Iverone to make big statements for themselves this season, as they both bring size, athleticism and lacrosse smarts to the Tartan’s emerging offensive system. Rounding out the offensive side of the equation for the Tartans is Eric Suh (St. Johns), a talented middie and face-off expert who will be counted on to play both sides of the field.

A High Standard

Despite the up and down nature of coach Miles’ first two seasons, he insists on holding his players and team to a high standard of conduct and play. Especially in the preseason, focusing on properly teaching the correct concepts in all facets of the game to all players. He even has offensive-only players step into defense to learn every angle of the game. He seeks to use St. Margarets as a pioneer for growing the level of play in both the county, as well as the state. Coach Miles will be joined on the sidelines this season by a very talented group of assistant coaches, including Mark Warren, Crawford McCarthy, Josh Jauffman, Dennis Birch, John Muto, and Terry Riordan.

As the regular season inches closer and closer, the Tartans will begin to focus on applying their “high lacrosse IQ” to their play. The coaching staff expects a high level of play from their players for the entirety of the game, and as a corollary expects this high level of play to translate into exceptional results. You can bet that the Tartans will bring this high level of intensity as they look to solidify themselves this year and prove 2013 wasn’t just random chance.

A Preview of the Future

As the upperclassmen of this year’s team move closer to leaving St. Margaret’s, the program is hoping that it’s large influx of youth talent will signal continued success for the future. The Tartans welcome a large freshman class, all with varied levels of experience. Many players have gone through the Victory youth system and are familiar with Coach Miles’ systems. Many of them are hungry to prove they can execute with the veterans. Because of the large amount of established talent in the upper classes, however, don’t expect to see a ton of freshman make an immediate impact. Don’t, though, be surprised if by the end of the season coach Miles has developed a few new faces that can contribute in various ways to the Tartan’s success.

Big games for St. Margaret’s this year include Foothill on March 7th, Palos Verdes on March 14th, Poway (SD) on March 24th, JSerra on April 4th and CDM on April 22th.

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