One of the Orange County’s most consistent lacrosse programs since its inception eight seasons ago, San Clemente has undergone significant change since bowing out of the CIF Southern Section playoffs in the semifinals last May to eventual champ Foothill.
Brad Reppert (former Santa Margarita Catholic head coach) takes over as Head Coach following Mike Hutnick’s sudden resignation in September after just two seasons. Reppert inherits a team that lost 12 seniors (including 7 starters—3 of whom were Division I signees), five of its top six scorers and its top five ground ball getters.
But if that sounds daunting, think again. The team returns its top overall scorer from last year—senior attack and third team All-County Jack Renard (58 goals, 21 assists) who has committed to D3 US Merchant Marine Academy, and key pieces of its defense with second team All-County junior defensman Caleb Bozarth, first-team All-County senior defenseman Max Lepley (D3 Whittier commit) and second-team All-League goalie junior Austin Boyer. Also keep an eye on junior LSM Ryan Crawford, who combines speed with tenacious defensive skills.
The team also features a handful of blossoming young offensive stars, including junior midfielder Garrett Eslick (5 goals last year), D1 Air Force signee sophomore attackman Nick Lemus (5 goals, 3 assists) and sophomore middies Matt Keany and Eric Zoe who all saw varsity time last year. Another key player to watch is David Howren, a sophomore midfielder who missed all of last year with a knee injury, but has size, shooting skills and also will face off.
“I expect our team to compete for the league title and go toe-to-toe with some of the top teams in San Diego and Orange County,” said Reppert, whose team will again war with Tesoro for the league title, which San Clemente pried away last year. “We have a great mix of young and veteran players that will compete with anyone.”
San Clemente, as usual, has one of the toughest schedules in Orange County and opens with a five-game gauntlet against Top 10 teams from OC, SD and LA that will test them early (at Rancho Bernardo, home to Texas power Southlake, at Corona del Mar, at Foothill and home to LA preseason No. 1 Palos Verdes). The Tritons will also play San Diego powers Poway and Carlsbad on their non-conference schedule.
KEY GAMES: March 14 at Corona del Mar; March 19 at Foothill; March 21 vs. Palos Verdes; May 1 vs. Tesoro