Looking Back: ’13-’14 Season in Review

The 2014 Founders League lacrosse season was packed with upsets, crushing defeats, close battles, and inspiring victories. At the beginning of the season, not a single person could have said with certainty who the champion would be. Seven games were the test for every team. Seven chances to come out victorious over some of the most lethal offenses, toughest defenses, and best coaches the nation has to offer. Out of league games mattered, but every team in the Founders League had the same goal: win the Founders League Championship. In the end, it was not who won or lost more games in the past, but who played better on any given day. Here is how the 2014 Founders League lacrosse season went:

 

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Avon Old Farms

Season Record: 15-2

Founders League Record: 7-0

The Winged Beavers had their best season since 2010 when they finished 13-2. No single aspect of the game can be given more credit than another for Avon Old Farms’ success, as it was their team chemistry that won them games. Defensive efforts from Nolan Callahan ‘14 (Syracuse), George Fay ‘14 (Delaware), Theo Dol ‘15 (UVA), Will Sjodin ‘14, Tyson Bomberry ‘15 (Syracuse), and Nate Usich ‘15 created a cohesive unit on the defensive side of the field. Only 93 goals were let in this season, second lowest in the Founders League.

The Winged Beavers’ defense was also complemented by one of the most lethal offenses in New England. Led by Conor Kelly ‘14 (Maryland/ Under Armour All-American), who had a third of Avon Old Farms’ goals, the Winged Beavers pumped in 130 shots behind goaltenders. Kelly ‘14 averaged around 3.5 goals a game, but the offensive efforts from Grant Gould ‘14 (Air Force), Michael Herring ‘15 (UVA), Sam Runkel ‘14 (Gettysburg), Matt Hahn ‘15 (Air Force), Henry Narlee ‘14 (Boston U.), Jake Korus ‘15 (Lafayette), and Tommy Hayes ‘14 (Dennison) all showed the league that the Avon Old Farms offense was not just a one-man show.

Two games highlight the 2014 season for Avon Old Farms. The first was defeating Salisbury in a game where they trailed the entire time up until the final 60 seconds. Henry Narlee ‘14 netted the game-tying goal, and on the ensuing face-off, the ball was won forward. A few passes later, Conor Kelly ‘14 was left wide open on the doorstep, and with a few savvy fakes, he netted the game-winner to give the Winged Beavers a one-goal lead with seconds to go. Avon was the only Founders League team to beat Salisbury this year. The second game that defined the season for AOF was the victory over Taft. This game really solidified the Winged Beavers’ position on top of the Founders League and earned them a Founders League Championship to cap off the season. The Winged Beavers also finished at #14 in the national rankings.

Next year Avon Old Farms will be without 20+ seniors. This is over half their team, and more than half of this year’s starting lineup. There are certainly big shoes that need to be filled by returners and recruits.

Photo credit: Student Sports (@studentsports1)

Photo credit: Student Sports (@studentsports1)

Choate

Season Record: 7-7

Founders League Record: 3-4

The Wild Boars finished with a .500 record this season. A four-game win streak to start the season was accompanied by a four-game losing streak. This season, Choate’s offense only put up 81 goals. Lacrosse is a high-scoring game, and for a team to win, shots must fall. Missed offensive chances came on extra-man opportunities for the Wild Boars. In games such as Hotchkiss, Deerfield, and Brunswick, there were less than 6 goals, but a number of scoring chances that could not be capitalized on.

Choate’s defense played extremely well this season allowing only 86 goals. This was largely because of goalie Turner Uppgren ‘15 (Duke). Allowing the fewest goals in the Founders League is an impressive accomplishment, and if Choate’s offense meshed during the season, the Wild Boars could have been championship contenders.

The highlight of the Wild Boar’s season came with a big win over Westminster in the early Spring. Down at the half, Choate looked to offensive player Mitch Stephens ‘14 to lift the team. Off a feed from Will Reynolds ‘14 (Michigan), Stephens ‘14 did just that to take the score to 6-5. Choate’s powerful defense showed itself when they killed two man-up opportunities and quelled a last second attempt by the Martlets to even the score.

Choate returns captain Turner Uppgren ‘15 as the leader of the team and Michael Sands ‘16 (Lafayette) at the midfield. Big losses for the Wild Boars include Will Reynolds ‘14 (Michigan) and captains Cuyler Brodnax ‘14 and Jack Bertolini ‘14. A total of 10 seniors venture onto college from the Wild Boars, but filling their spots is surely at the forefront of the coaching staff’s agenda. Choate should be a major contender next year in the Founders League.

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Hotchkiss

Season Record: 9-7

Founders League Record: 5-2

Hotchkiss was this year’s dark horse in the championship scuffle. They were extremely balanced on the field with strong offense and defense. The offense netted 137 goals in total, notching 12 of those against fellow championship contender Taft. Lawson Pisani ‘15 and William Pasik ‘16 led the volatile offense of the Bearcats this season. Pisani ‘15, a Colorado native, scored 35 goals and had 12 assists on the year. Pasik ‘16 and Pisani ‘15 are both uncommitted players, but after such successful seasons, will likely be on the radars of several collegiate coaches.

Defensively, Hotchkiss played tough. Big hits, gritty clears, and scrappy ground ball play defined the unit during the 2014 season. The undisputed leader of the defense was Scott Hooper ‘14 (UVA/ Under Armour All-American). Standing at taller than 6 feet 2 inches, Hooper ‘14 is arguably the most imposing player on the field every time he walks out. His size, however, is no indication of his speed. Hooper ‘14 is extremely fast and can run with the best attackman in the Founders League. Jack Corbett ‘15 (Harvard/ #25 Ranked Junior) played solid in the net for the Bearcats as well letting in 123 goals this season.

The Trinity-Pawling victory was a major highlight of the season for Hotchkiss. As time wound down the score was tied. Overtime looked imminent as there was less than ten seconds on the clock. A massive, high-to-high, lefty sizzler left the stick of Lawson Pisani ‘15 with 5.7 seconds left to go. The ball was buried in the top right corner, and Hotchkiss left with a victory.

Hotchkiss will be a contender next year. Their defense loses Hooper ‘14 along with 17 other seniors but should still maintain a lethal offense with several talented returners coming back to play.

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Kent

Season Record: 4-8

Founders League Record: 2-5

The Kent squad did not have the season they hoped for. Turnovers and face-offs plagued the Lions the entire season, but in the last game against Trinity-Pawling, Kent showed their true potential and fought hard for a 10-8 win. Only 70 goals were scored this season, but that does not speak for the potential the offense had. Mike Guerin ‘16 (UNC), Brooks Young ‘15, and Joshua Keller ‘14 (Providence) were the main leaders in attack. Guerin ‘16 had 25 points on the season, while Young ‘15 had 22. Keller ‘14, a post-graduate, had a total of 32 points this season, scoring in multitudes in several games. Kent’s offense primarily utilized these three players on offense and scored on a lot of 1-on-1 match ups.

Defensively, the Lions succeeded between the pipes. Goalie Stephen Morrissey ‘14, a standout in goal for the championship-winning hockey team, played a great season in the net along with Mitchell Green ‘16 getting some playing time as well. Other teams scored on Kent 113 times this season which must be addressed when Kent’s team goes into next year. The defense must rally behind Kent’s goalie next year if they are to succeed.

A double-overtime win over Loomis-Chaffee was highlight of the Lion’s season. The two teams traded goals back and forth all game until Guerin ‘16 netted a bounce shot in to equalize the score, but it was Andrew Liddle ‘14 who played the hero in the second overtime period. Loomis could not capitalize on some key man-up opportunities, and Liddle was able to fire one past the Pelican goalie making the final score 8-7.

Kent can make strides next year if they build defensively and solve their problems at the face-off X. Many teams, Salisbury in particular, controlled the time of possession against the Lions because of victories on face-offs. Returning offensive players in Young ‘15 and Guerin ‘16 will perform again, but will need a team on both sides of the field to support them.

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Loomis-Chaffee

Season Record: 4-12

Founders League Record: 0-7

For the sixth straight year, Loomis Chaffee had a losing record. The Pelicans could not get a win in the Founders League, but did defeat a talented Phillips Andover team early in the year. Offensively, efforts from Michael Giacco ‘14 and Thomas Elcock ‘14 were solid. There was simply not enough production from other players to get a lot of team chemistry going during the year. A good total 107 goals scored on another team would have yielded much more success.

The Pelican’s defense coughed up 153 goals this year. This was the highest amount of goals scored on any Founders League team. Loomis-Chaffee could not stop lethal offenses such as Deerfield, Avon Old Farms, Brunswick, and Salisbury. The defense had some talented players, particularly captain Christian Fay ‘14.

An 8-7 victory over Phillips Andover was a major point of pride for Loomis-Chaffee. Thomas Elcock ‘14 was the hero of that game as he scored four goals, two of which were in the last minutes of the fourth quarter. The 8-7 victory earned the Pelicans bragging rights over their out-of-league rival.

Next year will be tough for Loomis-Chaffee unless there are some major recruits that come in. The loss of Elcock ‘14, Giacco ‘14, and Trey Deyo ‘14 (Furman) will hurt offensively. Fifteen players leave along with the offensive leaders and will leave some major gaps defensively next year as well.

Instagram: taftlax

Instagram: taftlax

Taft

Season Record: 12-4

Founders League Record: 5-2

The Rhinos were a tough team to beat this year. Led by Tyler Breen ‘14 (UVA/ Under Armour All-American), Zach Ambrosino ‘15 (UVA / #24 ranked junior), Jack Collins ‘14 (Brown), Adam Davies ‘16 (Ohio State), Angus Viebranz ‘14, Will Sipperly ‘14 (UVA), and Brady O’Donnel ‘14 (Bryant), the Taft team was one of the toughest opponents in New England. The potent offense showed some of the best talent the nation has to offer. Between Collins ‘14, Breen ‘14, and Sipperly ‘14 there were 68 of the 143 total goals of the season. As far as goals scored goes, Taft had the second most for the Founders League.

On the other end of the field, Taft played fantastic defense. Angus Viebranz ‘14 was excellent between the pipes with a 57.7% save percentage for the entire season. Viebranz ‘14, combined with the one of the best defenders in the 2015 class (Ambrosino ‘15), and post-graduate Eric Smith ‘14 (Michigan), allowed 129 goals. With their lethal offense and defense, it is no secret that Taft was one of the most cohesive teams in New England.

Deerfield and Taft have become bitter out-of-league rivals over the years. It was Taft’s inspiring victory over the Green Doors that truly showcased the Rhinos at their best. Taft was the lone Founders League team to beat Deerfield this season, and their success in this game can be contributed to the grit that they played with all season. Down 6-3 after some time in the third, Taft was able to rally behind captain Jack Collins ‘14, who netted two and paved the way for his game winner, courtesy of a feed from Brady O’Donnell ‘14. This game deserved to go to Taft, who out-hustled Deerfield.

Next year, Taft will return talented players in Adam Davies ‘16 and Zach Ambrosino ‘15, but will lose some of the best talent the program may have ever seen in Tyler Breen ‘14, Jack Collins ‘14, and Will Sipperly ‘14.

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Trinity-Pawling

Season Record: 7-12

Founders League Record: 2-5

The Pride looked promising coming into the 2014 season. A team packed with top Division I talent and a tremendous coaching staff just simply could not win big games this season though. Initially ranked#16 in the nation, Trinity-Pawling was under a national microscope. Without a doubt, T.P.’s preseason was the toughest in New England as they played the #1 nationally ranked Boys-Latin in their first game of the season. When the New England games began for the Pride, a promising win over Loomis-Chaffee was no indicator of what was to come. The next game, Brewster Academy upset Trinity-Pawling 14-8. T.P. looked as though it regained its spark with a win over Choate, but ended up losing out in the Founders League thereafter.

The craziest part about the unsuccessful season for the Pride is the fact that they scored 152 goals this season, the most in the Founders League. With such talented offensive players in Tyler Kellogg ‘15 (UVA/#10 ranked junior), Thomas Bianchin ‘15 (Providence), and Thomas Stackpole ’14 (St. John’s) it was to everyone’s surprise that the team did not win games.

Defensively, Ben Gleichenhaus ‘14 (Jacksonville) and Caelen Buhlen ‘16 (Cornell) led in the net for the Pride. Surrounded by defensemen such as Alexander Moeser ‘14 (Hofstra) and Gordon Phillips ‘15 (Monmouth), it was hard to believe that 147 goals slipped past the Pride.

Nevertheless, the Pride did play some fantastic games against teams like Brunswick and a tough Calvert Hall team. T.P. was the only team to come close to beating the Brown Bears this season, and beating Calvert Hall made a statement that the Founders League was not second rate compared to the MIAA.

The Calvert Hall victory was certainly the biggest win for the Pride all year. Coming off of a tough loss against Boys’ Latin, the Pride would not rollover and be defeated by another team. A 9-6 win was largely attributed to Canadian goalie, Buhlen ‘16. This victory over one of the most fabled teams in the nation ended a long-running debate on whether or not MIAA teams and Founders League teams could compete.

The Pride returns some of its best players next year, but will need to figure out defensive issues, turnovers, and missed EMO opportunities that plagued them all season. Tyler Kellogg ‘15 will return along with Caelen Buhlen ‘16 to lead at both ends of the field.

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Westminster:

Season Record: 9-6

Founders League Record: 4-3

Westminster was one of four teams to finish out the year with a winning record in the Founders League. Several flashy players such as Patrick Brandell ‘15 (Dartmouth), Tristan Rai ‘14 (Lehigh), and face-off master Brian Smyth ‘16 (Duke) led the offensive charge throughout the season. A total of 131 goals were scored this season for the Martlets with a majority of them coming from these three players. The real key to the Westminster offense this year though was face-offs. Smyth ‘16 showed why having a great face-off player wins games; he gave Westminster possession of the ball and initiated offensive flow nearly every time he touched the field.

The Martlets owned the middle of the field this year. Defensively, the team cleared the ball cleanly to the midfielders and was able to make big time stops with tough play. Henry Andersson ‘14 and Dylan Moser ‘15 both made several key saves throughout the year between the pipes. Mike Benincasa ‘14 (Delaware) played solid defense on some of the best attackman in the league this year as well.