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Monday, May 30, 2011

2011 Summer Lacrosse League Preview

It's Memorial Day Weekend.  The Nebraska High School Lacrosse League season wrapped up last week and the NCAA season is finishing later today.  In just over a week and a half (June 8, specifically) the 2011 Summer Lacrosse League will be underway.  This season looks to be even better than last year with four teams boasting competitive rosters (on paper anyway).  Here's how they break down.
The rechristened defending champions boast a back line built around captain Shelton.  The big man returns with a loaded offense consisting of the Brothers Griess, Bostwick, Ben Couch, Harrington, and others.  Shelton can choose between the Tornberg and Mundus brothers on defense and has the added security of Valley's former varsity keeper Hunter Couch in the cage.  With their roster depth, experience together, and attitude, the Gargoyles have a solid shot at the 2011 title.
After running a team of Valley's youngest last summer, Zielonko gathered up his coaching staff to build a more competitive team this season.  Based on the concept that the organizers should be able to play with their buddies too, nearly everybody on the team is involved in the coaching, organizing, or operations of Valley Lax and/or CILA.  The strong midfield and attack options are somewhat hindered by myself, but the upcoming birth of my child may keep my from being a nuisance in games down the stretch.  Goalie Fitch joins the team after spending 2010 with a bunch of Drake guys.  His understudy will be newcomer Abbott, who will also see time at the other end of the field.
While the Gargoyles and Aces may be the early favorites, the Demons should not be counted out.  With three Iowa State players (DiGangi, Van Dyke, Catron), Drake's former captain (Shoff), a former Wisconsin Stevens Point Player (Blay), and a host of guys with some level of experience, the Demons have the potential to leapfrog the favorites.  DiGangi is a solid and intimidating goalie and will be a strong leader from the cage.  Shoff proved his leadership abilities when he formed and ran the Drake team; he is also a very capable defender.  Blay was one of the toughest d-poles in the league last season and is also vocal from the back.  Swailes is rapidly developing into a quality attackman and Dyke continues to improve at midfield.  Kaufman is the epitome of a solid journeyman utility player.  The rest of the roster is largely unknown, but loaded with potential.
Crease Monkeys
After reading about the strong players on the other teams, it would be easy to overlook the Monkeys.  However this team packs a deadly mix of youth, experience, and skill.  Captains Harrington and Sundermann have a strong offensive arsenal at their disposal including the Arends brothers, Crew, and a host of up-and-coming players.  Taylor will share net minder duties with the versatile McDougal, who will also contribute to the defense and midfield as the team's needs dictate.  With a good number of players able to fill multiple positions, it is conceivable that we will see different line ups every week.  This might be the key to the Monkeys finding their way to the early game on August 10, something that this team is entirely capable of with focus and communication.

Tribe 7