July 25, 2012

Prep schools: Three teams tie for ISL crown

Most New England prep leagues don’t have postseason tournaments, so every game is hugely important in the standings. In some cases, a single loss all season means the difference between being champions or finishing in second place.

In 2012, the most tried-and-true contenders pulled through, with many of the league winners being among the most storied programs in the region.

BOYS

Independent School League

Three teams in the ISL could not be separated all season long, and each shared in the 2012 league championship. Governor’s Academy, Middlesex and St. Sebastian’s all finished with only one loss in the conference. St. Sebastian’s was the only team to lose an extra game outside of the conference.

Governor’s won its first 16 games of the season, including a close 4-3 victory over St. Sebastian’s. But Middlesex — which already had lost to St. Sebastian’s — beat Governor’s in the final game of the season to earn its share of the title. Senior Bryson Gilberto-Bono scored two goals and added an assist in the Zebras’ 6-4 victory.

All three title-sharers played championship defense all year. Neither Governor’s Academy nor Middlesex allowed double-digits in goals, and St. Sebastian yielded 10 or more only twice all season, both victories.
Rivers was next in the standings with an overall record of 13-4, 12-3 in conference play. Last year’s runner-up, Noble and Greenough, finished 11-8 and 9-6 in conference.

Western New England Division 1

Deerfield and Salisbury were crowned co-champions — the seventh time in eight years that one or both claimed at least a share of the title.

Salisbury was the final New England West foe on Deerfield’s schedule. The Crimson Knights had come into the game undefeated and a win would have given the school its second outright title in three years.
The Big Green had slipped up a little earlier in the season, losing in overtime to conference-foe Trinity-Pawling (11-7). When rival Salisbury came to town, however, Deerfield didn’t have any emotional let downs, taking the game to overtime before winning, 11-10.

Salisbury and Deerfield were the only New England schools ranked in the top 10 of the season-ending UnderArmour/Inside Lacrosse national high school power rankings, coming in at Nos. 6 and 7, respectively. Salisbury ended up ranked ninth nationally on the LaxPower computer poll, with Deerfield finishing 20th; in LaxPower’s final coaches’ poll, Salisbury ranked 13th in the country, with Deerfield three slots behind.
Deerfield’s only other loss of the season came to Lawrenceville of New Jersey.

Western New England Division 2

For the third consecutive season, the Western New England Division 2 championship came down to Millbrook (15-4, 7-0) and Canterbury (11-6, 5-2).

Millbrook’s Mustangs defeated the Saints twice in the season with victories of 12-4 and 8-4.

Hudson Valley Athletic League

Wooster started the season 1-2, but went on to win its next 10 games to earn the HVAL championship. The team had a potent offense that scored double digits in 11 of its games, including its final six.

The HVAL is one of the few prep leagues to play a postseason tournament. In the finals, the Generals took on Storm King, for the second time in 10 days, and while Storm King’s Cougars closed the gap from a blowout first game, Wooster still cruised to victory, 12-6.

After several dominant seasons, Chase Collegiate continued its slide and went 3-11, suffering its second consecutive losing campaign.

New England North

An undefeated in-conference season (9-0), gave Brewster Academy (15-2) its eighth consecutive Northern New England title.

Brewster finished 15-2 overall, beating strong teams such as Noble and Greenough, Rivers, Phillips Andover and conference-foe Proctor Academy (11-6, 7-2). The team will graduate as many seniors as it had wins, but its two leading scorers — sophomore Ryder Garnsey (55 goals, 18 assists) and junior John McNamara (28 goals, 32 assists) — will lead the charge for a ninth league crown in 2013.

Proctor finished second in the standings, followed by Gould Academy, Holderness and New Hampton. Holderness was the only team that gave Brewster a close game; the Bulls fell to the Bobcats, 10-8, while none of the other teams came within six goals of the league champs.

Eastern Independent League

Portsmouth Abbey again proved to be the class of the EIL. Finishing 9-6 overall but 6-0 in conference play, the Ravens won their third consecutive league championship and fourth in the past five years. The team average 12.9 goals per game and really turned it up at the end of the season, winning its final three games by an average of 13.3 goals per game.
Pingree once again finished in second with a 6-1 conference record.

Others

Phillips Exeter had another great year. The Big Red won its fourth consecutive New England East title, won 20 games, losing just twice; its ledger included wins over the likes of St. Sebastian’s, Avon Old Farms, Proctor, Brewster and Portsmouth Abbey.

GIRLS

Independent School League

The ISL generally is a deep league, but one team rose above all: Thayer Academy.

The Tigers — led by All-Americans McKenzie Hunt and Mackenzie Kent — completed an undefeated season, going 15-0. It was the team’s second title in the past three seasons. The Tigers also were the top girls’ prep team according to LaxPower’s rankings, finishing in the top 50 of LaxPower’s national computer poll.

Thayer’s best competition was Middlesex (14-3), which played the Tigers to a close 9-8 game and was the only team that didn’t surrender 10 or more goals to Thayer.

Only one other team, Governor’s Academy (8-7), played Thayer to within five goals. It was a disappointing season for Governor’s Academy, a team with a lot of talent on its roster starting with goalie Kelsey Duryea — headed to Duke in the fall — but that could not climb the standings.

St. Mark’s — led by All-American Gabrielle Starkey — finished 13-3, while Brooks School — with All-American Jillian Doherty — went 12-3.

Eastern Independent League

Dana Hall School (12-4) may have had fewer losses than Pingree (13-5), but the Highlanders went on to win the EIL tournament, taking its third consecutive league championship. Pingree defeated Portsmouth Abbey (12-5) in the semifinals of the tournament, 13-12, in overtime, and went on to play Dana Hall, which had ousted the Winsor School. The Highlanders lost to Dana Hall in the regular season 8-7, but took the conference title in a 15-4 runaway.

Founders League

After finishing in an unfamiliar spot in 2011 — not in first place in the conference — Loomis-Chaffee did not lose a single game to a Founders League opponent. That restored order, giving the Pelicans their ninth conference crown in the past 11 years.
Loomis-Chaffee went 13-3 on the season, defeating foes such as the Hotchkiss School (6-6), Choate Rosemary Hall (11-5) and perennial Massachusetts contender Longmeadow (18-6). The Pelicans never were held under 10 goals in a game.
The Taft School went 13-2, with its only conference loss being to Loomis.

This article originally appeared in the July 2012 issue of New England Lacrosse Journal.

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