It’s way too early to rank the top high school lacrosse teams in the Los Angeles area for 2015, but we’re doing it anyway.
Many teams have been holding tryouts already, and official practices begin in two months. So what could be wrong with a little premature speculation about which schools will be fielding the best squads come March?
These rankings are based on how the teams finished last season combined with what we know of their projected rosters for the coming season. Disagree? Think we whiffed somewhere? Vote in our MaxLaxLA Fan Poll, then hit us up in the comments below or on Twitter at @maxlaxLA and state your case.
1. Palos Verdes
Last year: 13-9, 6-1 Bay League
Playoff finish: Won L.A. bracket; lost to O.C. champion Foothill in title game
The Sea Kings return no fewer than 10 players who were named All-Bay League first- or second-team, including All-Americans Stanton Gilbertson, league Player of the Year at midfield, and David McCann, Defensive Player of the Year in goal. Six members of PV’s junior class return after earning either first- or second-team all-Bay honors as sophomores. Depth, talent and experience earns the Sea Kings the pre-preseason No. 1 nod.
Last year: 15-5, 6-2 Mission League
Playoff finish: Lost to Palos Verdes in the L.A. semifinals
We seriously considered placing the Cubs ahead of PV in this list but ultimately went with the defending champs. Sophomore goalie Joe Theuer (first-team all-Mission League as a freshman) and sophomore defender Nick Mohler (second-team as a freshman) anchor a defense that returns six poles from last year’s squad, and senior midfielder Harrison Mac (second-team all-Mission last year) leads a deep group of offensive players that includes junior attack Sean Smith and sophomore middie Emmett Rielly.
Last year: 11-5, 4-3 Bay League
Playoff finish: Lost to neighborhood rival Palos Verdes in the first round
Senior Colton Michel, named All-American and Bay League attackman of the year last spring, returns to lead the offense, and senior goalie Lance Plonski (first-team all-Bay League) anchors the defense. Joining them are senior midfielder Brandon Wilson (first team), junior attack Kobe Tseng (second team) and sophomore defender Scott Phillips (second team).
4. Thousand Oaks
Last year: 14-3, 11-1 Marmonte
Playoff finish: Lost to Palos Verdes in the second round
Last season’s Marmonte League champs return league MVP Nick Auger at attack, along with first-team midfielder Zach Byington, first-team defender Jake Allred and second-team goalie C.J. Ortiz, so there is talent and experience at every level of the lineup. The Lancers also draw from one of the deeper youth programs in the area, so there is no reason to expect much drop-off in coach Tyler Gilbert’s second season.
5. Newbury Park
Last year: 16-4, 9-3 Marmonte League
Playoff finish: Lost to Oak Park in the second round
The Panthers have a new coach, with Grant Kaleikau replacing Tim Penix, but return a ton of talent from a very good 2014 team, led by senior goalie Mikey Marinelli and senior defender Chucky Smith, both named first-team all-Marmonte League and All-American last year as juniors. Junior attack Chasen Colter, who recorded 47 goals and 35 assists and was named first-team all-league last season, returns to pace the offense.
Last year: 14-4, 9-3 Marmonte
Playoff finish: Lost to Loyola in the second round
The Warriors return seniors Jesse Cuccia at midfield, Conor O’Brien at attack and Christian Ahn at LSM/D — all first-team all-Marmonte picks — along with Drew Taylor on defense, a second-team all-Marmonte selection. Goalie Matt Kilkeary also is back after starting as a freshman last season.
7. Oak Park
Last year: 15-6 (independent)
Playoff finish: Lost to Palos Verdes in the L.A. title game
The Eagles must replace 14 seniors, including All-American goalie Shane Bracken and top scorers Hunter Jamison (27G, 9A) and Zack Shorts (22G, 10A). But with seniors Owen Consoletti and Ryan Shorts at attack and juniors Brendan Egan and Patrick Lasure at midfield, there still is plenty of talent and experience. Plus there is senior faceoff specialist Josh Rosen (.630 win percentage) to gain possession. Oak Park also will restock the varsity roster with a group of JV players who went 13-2 last season. Goalie Gianberto Ridino and attack Ethan DeRose, both juniors, are two to watch.
Last year: 11-6, 6-3 Mission
Playoff finish: Lost to Oak Park in the semifinals
The Celts return plenty of offense with Mission League co-Player of the Year Alex Dixon (46G, 28A) and second-team All-Mission pick Cam Radenberg (21G, 24A), both seniors. Plus they’ll have junior middie Jack Doyle back after he missed all of last season with a knee injury. Doyle had 11 goals and 27 assists as a freshman. Defensively, however, Crespi must replace three longpole starters, including first-team all-Mission picks Julian Warne and Eddie Paredes. Senior goalie Nick Enos returns, but he’ll need some defenders to emerge.
9. Harvard Westlake
Last year: 13-5, 7-2 Mission
Playoff finish: Lost to Crespi in the second round
The Wolverines return key contributors in attack Roman Holthouse, the Mission League co-Player of the Year with Dixon, and faceoff middie Philip Thompson, who posted a dominant 90 percent win rate at the dot. But they’re replacing two All-Americans — Noah Pompan (2014) and Jack Temko (2013) — from a strong class of 2014. Coach Alex Weber will look to this year’s seniors, among them middies Oliver Levitt, Andrew Corlin and Joe Woody and defenseman Andrew Park, a second-team all-Mission pick last year, to carry a larger load. Sophomore Niko Econn joins Park on the back line.
Last year: 8-9, 7-5 Marmonte
Playoff finish: Lost to Crespi in the first round
The Chargers lost 11 seniors off last season’s team but have senior defenseman Jonah Swigart (first-team all-Marmonte) and junior goalie Jason Pawlak among 15 players returning.