Players to Watch: Senior Defenders

Our look at players to watch in the 2017 season moves on to senior defenders, where once again it would be easy (and accurate) to take last year’s spotlighted junior defenders and bump them up a year.

Our junior defenders to watch list last year highlighted Taylor Dankenbring of Agoura, who is committed to Providence; Nick Mohler of Loyola, who is committed to Boston University; and Scott Phillips of Peninsula, who is committed to Bryant. All three are back and will play key roles on their teams, so they are definitely players to watch.

But wait, there’s more. We culled through last year’s all-league and all-area lists, along with soliciting nominations from every coach in the area, and came up with a dozen more senior defenders worth putting on the radar of area lax fans.

Shane Houska, Harvard Westlake

Houska was named first-team all-Mission League as a defender last year after being named second-team all-Mission as a long-stick midfielder as a sophomore. He played a bit of LSM last season, especially on the face-off wing, where is long stride and reach made him effective on ground balls.

Jim Murphy, St. Francis

Last year, Murphy earned first-team all-Mission League and second-team Greater LA All-Area honors after helping St. Francis to the best finish in the program’s history, including the team’s first playoff appearance. He capped all of that by committing to NCAA D-III York College in Pennsylvania.

Matt Nagy, Palos Verdes

Named second-team all-Bay League last year while starting for a defense that allowed only 4.1 goals per game, best in the Southern Section. Nagy had 36 ground balls and 19 caused turnovers as a junior. This year, he was voted team captain. He also was a captain on the Sea Kings football team last fall. Coach Jimmy Borell calls Nagy “pound for pound the strongest player on the team.”

Also Worth Watching

Cayman Barber, El Segundo (second-team all-Ocean); Henry Beglinger, Notre Dame; Will Beightol, Santa Barbara; Niko Econn, Loyola (three-time second-team all-Mission selection); Anderson Hill, Newbury Park (second-team all-Marmonte); Morgan Lewis, Loyola (second-team all-Mission, committed to Washington College, Md.); Julian Menendez, Mira Costa; Dorian Ruh, Crespi; Elijah Zavala, Culver City (two-time all-Ocean League).