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WHSBLA - 2017 Preseason Preview

The WHSBLA has gone through some changes this off-season, so before we dive into our preseason preview, lets go over what we should expect from all the change and how the play-offs are affected.

Schools are all now classified as either a 1A/2A, 3A, 4A or Private School classifications. All teams will play a regular season regional schedule (cross-divisional), and then compete within their class for their own championship. Another notable change was the SPSL Conference was renamed to the Puget Sound Conference, while also adding the Olympia Bears.

• Private School Championship
• 1A/2A Championship
• 3A Championship
• 4A Championship

Now that you’re all caught up, lets dive in:

Private School – Preseason Top 5 Teams:

#1 - Eastside Catholic Crusaders – Metro

What a season for the Crusaders having essentially gone undefeated in the regular season (with one game being forfeited) and headed straight to the championship in a heart breaking 6-7 loss to the Bellevue Wolverines. Their regular season was an overall success with a top ranked defense (69 PA) and second ranked offense (224 PF). With this being the Crusaders second state championship appearance, there is a good chance they will be there again soon.

The team took a big hit having graduated 8 of their players including attackman Bryce Atwater (16g, 18a) who led the team in assists. The offense shouldn’t be too affected by his absence with the return of senior attackman Ryan Grazko (29 goals, 10 assists) and junior midfielder Joey Matte (18 goals, 4 assists). The Crusaders will most likely tap into that deep bench of theirs to fill any necessary gaps.

The defense is taking a big hit in losing goalie Josh Matte who had an impressive 67% save percentage against 51 shots. A possible replacement would be Joel Anderson who blocked 3 of the 4 shots against him. Some of the younger defensive players will have to fill a couple gaps left by their graduating class in order to keep a hold of that number 1 defense.

#2 - O’Dea Fighting Irish – Metro

This Fighting Irish team was no push over last year finishing with a strong 7-2 conference record. A lot of their games were won by small margins including 2 conference games they won in overtime.

O’Dea will see the return of junior attackman Sam Dracobly (19 goals, 17 assists). This is great news for the Fighting Irish because he made up nearly a quarter of the teams total league points. Two other players were able to have goal counts higher than 10 but they will need to count on more support if they want to make a deeper playoff run this season.

This third ranked defense will see the return of junior goalie Alan Badley, who ended his season with a comfortable 54% save percentage. He shared a chunk of his game time with recently graduated goalie John Hyatt. They could include another goalie to share a similar amount of the work load this season.

#3 - Blanchet Braves – Metro

This was a rough season for a team that has to face some of the best teams in the state. They had a winning overall record with 8-7 but only finishing with a 4-5 conference record. The Braves suffered the worst defense among the current Division I teams while no players on their offense could reach 20 goals for the season.

Blanchet graduated attackman Phil Ward (18 goals, 6 assists) and midfielder Sam Gardner (11 goals, 6 assists) last year. They will look to their second ranked scorer sophomore attackman Forrest Snorsky (15 goals, 9 assists) with the help of senior midfielder Scott Doquilo (10 goals, 2 assists). Snorsky had a great first year with the Braves shining some light on real offensive potential in the future.

Blanchet will be happy to have senior goalie Jaybry Doyle-Hupf back after ending last season with a 56% save percentage against a very tough conference. This team will need all the help they can get as they move towards another difficult season.

#4 - Seattle Prep Panthers – Metro

The Panthers had a successful season closing on a 6-3 conference record and a playoff berth. They ranked very low defensively (122 PA) but maintaining a decent third ranked offense (196 PF) in the end.

The roster took a hit last year having graduated 9 of their players including Cullen Carter (13 goals, 1 assist) and the Van Hare twins. They will return their top scorer of 2016 junior attackman Sergei Jacobs (27 goals, 12 assists) while also turning to their younger talent to fill in the gaps. This offense will need to remain hot in this conference now that the private schools will be playing in their own championship bracket.

Good news for the defense is the return of Bennett Lingg who had an impressive save percentage of 62% against 144 shots on goal. They will hopefully build around such a strong goalie for this season by taking down that shot count on defense.

#5 - Lakeside Lions – Metro

The Vikings were not able to be as competitive as they wanted on offense in a conference that already has tough defensive players. They ended their season with a weak conference record of 4-5 but a better looking overall record of 8-6. Their defense is what kept them alive in every game.

They will return their top two scorers senior attackman Charlie Powell (17 goals, 6 assists) and attackman and midfielder Michael Taylor (11 goals, 2 assists). The offense will need some life with only two of their players breaking 10 points for the season last year. The Vikings will be turning to fresh poles in the hopes of finishing the season with a winning record.

The biggest loss by far for the Vikings is goalie Isaac Kleisle-Murphy who enjoyed the best save percentage of 64% out of Metro Conference goalies with over 100 shots on goal. They will be looking to James Korrell to fill this large hole who only received 12 minutes of league game time last season.

Potential Dark Horse:
Gonzaga Prep Bullpups - Eastern

This tough team ended their season with a comfortable 7-1 conference record but a more impressive 12-3 overall record. Gonzaga finished strong with a number one offense (169 PF) and defense (115 PA) and a deep playoff loss until their eventual loss to Division II state champions, Union High School, in the semi-finals.

The Bullpups graduated 18 players last year leaving some uncertainty to the level of completion they will bring. They will look to returning senior attackman Charlie Larson (16 goals, 5 assists) and their young poles to bring back that top offense this year.

They graduated their goalie Will Hallinan who had the majority of the field time but ended his season with a soft 40% save percentage. They will be looking to returning junior Joe Ferrell to keep the cage empty this year with an impressive 60% save percentage on 56 shots on goal.

1A/2A – Preseason Top 5 Teams:

#1 - Liberty Patriots – KingCo

Not a bad season last year for the Patriots who beat out 4 of their Division I conference rivals and all of their non-league games to a 12-7 overall record. With an impressive non league record and the return of the majority of their team, the Patriots could win the first 1A/2A lacrosse championship in Washington this season.

They graduated 8 players last year but look forward to the return of their top two scorers junior attackman Reilly Larson (20 goals, 16 assists) and junior attackman Jackson Wray (16 goals, 2 assists).

Liberty also graduated two of their goalies with a combined save percentage of 48%. Will be looking to returning junior goalie Luke Ransom who blocked 7 of the 11 shots he was challenged with.

#2 - Seattle Academy Cardinals – Metro

Seattle Academy enjoyed a great year with a 9-1 conference record and a defense that only allowed 61 total points. Their top three scorers last year were underclassman bringing in a total of 46 points all-together.

The Cardinals ran with a very young group of guys last year and managed to only lose one conference game while also making a deep playoff run to the semifinals. They will return all of their top 5 scoring players who each had at least 10 goals to themselves.

They will look to returning senior goalie Christian Batigan to put up another strong performance having ended last season with a 65% save percentage on 89 shots. Sporting a defense with only 74 points allowed, this Cardinal team could bring some tough playoff competition on their road to a championship.

#3 - Overlake Owls – Metro

This team held the best offense within their Division II conference standings (133 PF) but struggled on the other side of field allowing 123 points during the season. The Owls finished with a great record of 8-2 and a playoff berth only to have it abruptly by Gonzaga Prep in the first round. Luckily for the Owls, they will not have to face them in the playoffs again this year with the new championship changes.

Overlake graduated 6 players last year including top 3 scorers attackman Ian Klimisch (22 goals, 19 assists) and attackman Teddy Dyer (18 goals, 7 assists). They will look to returning senior Ben Fujinaga (23 goals, 7 assists) and junior Jack Johanneson (17 goals, 1 assist) to bring back that top offense this season.

The Cardinals had it rough on defense last year as first year player and returning sophomore goalie Henry Lautch barely got to a 50% save percentage against 95 shots on goal. Will be looking for growth from him as he gets comfortable in the cage and finds his element.

#4 - Klahowya Eagles – Olympic

Great season for the Eagles finishing with a 12-1 conference record and winning both of their non league games to have a 14-1 overall record. They easily had the top offense in their conference (224 PF) and a ranked 2 defense (118 PA).

Klahowya will have big gaps to fill as they graduated their top two scoring players attackman Joe Hawley (51 goals, 54 assists) and midfielder Austin Keller (38 goals, 20 assists). The two of them alone made up about 40% of the teams total league points. Having graduated 8 players, they will look to younger talent like returning sophomore midfielder Josh Brandes (24 goals, 2 assists) to bring back that high scoring offense.

Defense took a loss as well after graduating experience goalie Kyle Bergmann (0.587 Sv%) who saved over 100 shots on goal last year. They will be looking to returning sophomore goalie Jon Tammen who saved less than half of the shots made against him last season. Some growth is to be expected out of a young goalie in a situation like this.

#5 - Bellingham Red Raiders – Northwest

An important thing to note about this team is that it split from Sehome and will only be able to play Bellingham and Squalicum High School students on their team. Sehome has been separated and will compete against their former teammates this coming season. Together the programs had an impressive season with an 11-1 conference record and a top 3 offense (228 PF).

Not only did Bellingham graduate 6 seniors last year but they lost 10 Sehome players from last summers program split. They graduated their top two scoring players attackman Nathaniel Heritage (36 goals, 14 assists) and midfielder Zachary Lorenz (29 goals, 14 assists). They will look to returning senior attackman Jackson Zerba (24 goals, 13 assists) to rally a fresh group for this season as they race toward a championship.

With having goalies from Sehome, there is much up in the air as far as their defense. This split may take a toll on Bellingham but they have been able to be competitive in the past with their own recruits. They’ll look to young players to step up to these positions among all the changes.

3A – Preseason Top 5 Teams:

#1 - Bellevue Wolverines – KingCo

Congratulations to the Wolverines for winning their 4th state championship in the past 5 years!

The Bellevue Wolverines enjoyed an amazing season last year with a 13-1 conference record, top offense (287 PF) and defense (84 PA) in their conference, and a state championship. They nearly had a perfect season if it wasn’t for their heart breaking, almost a comeback, loss to Issaquah Last May. I’m sure Bellevue will be very eager for a rematch this season.

They are maintaining the majority of last year’s team with number one scorer senior midfielder Augustus Fratt (33 goals, 4 assists) and ranked #3 scorer senior attackman Cameron McMahon (30 goals, 6 assists) returning to their unit.

The Wolverines will be without former midfielder Joseph Bethke (31 goals, 19 assists) who had the most assists for their team but will look to junior midfielder Matthew Marino (22g, 14a) to help maintain that number one offense they had last year.

Bellevue is still in good shape at the goalie position even though they will be without former goalie Cole Bouwman (0.628 Sv%). They will be looking towards Cabe Edelhertz (0.703 Sv%) who had a great season saving 26 of the 37 shots made on him. Last season Bellevue split their goalie time with three players giving each one over 200 minutes in game time. This is the kind of strategy that helped get them the number one defense in their conference and lead them to their state championship.

#2 - Mercer Island Islanders – KingCo

The Islanders have been state champion contenders since 2001, appearing in 12 title games, while winning 6 state championships over that period, including its most recent 2015 championship against their closest neighbor, Bellevue high school.

Mercer Island had a great season with a 12-2 record making them one game behind the state champions only to lose to Eastside Catholic (State Champion runner up) in the second round of the playoffs. They graduated a majority of their 2015 state championship team so far, but remain to be competitive among their conference rivals.

This year they will do without their top scorer attackman Johnny Van der Velden (29 goals, 19 assists) and look to senior attackman Mitchell Mandt (26 goals, 19 assists) and sophomore midfielder Stu Vassau (21 goals, 1 assist).

Mercer Island will miss their 2015 state champion goalie Ezra Tillinger (0.659 Sv%) and look to returning senior Ian LaCombe who saved 12 out of 18 shots made against him in the 2016 season.

#3 - Bainbridge Spartans – Metro

Bainbridge had a great playoff run and an even better season finishing with an 8-1 conference record and a top ranked offense. Thirteen of their overall games had scores of 10 points or more including playoff matches. They almost had their chance to face heated rival Eastside Catholic in the championship before being bumped off by the Bellevue Wolverines in the third round.

It’s going to be a tough transition for the Spartans as they graduated 8 of their players including top three team scorers Ben Biggers (23 goals, 7 assists) and attackman Jack Frickleton (20 goals, 13 assists). Luckily they’ll be returning rising star athlete sophomore attackman Merrit McMahon (25 goals, 7 assists) in the hopes of rallying this team to the competitive level it needs to be.

Defensively the Spartans will be returning junior goalie Charlie Shrout who ended the season with a 55% save percentage. The defense was easily Bainbridge’s weakest element ranking 5 in its conference so they’ll look to the young athletes to help tighten up that end of the field this season.

#4 - Stanwood Spartans – Wesco

The Stanwood Spartans defense carried their team to a 10-2 conference record to end the season with a ranked 2 defense (89 PA). They started out very strong last year winning their first 9 conference match-ups. The Spartan defense held all but two conference teams to under 10 points every game last season.

They will be returning senior attackman Ty Heuer (31 goals, 12 assists) and number three scorer senior midfielder Payton Greene (27 goals, 16 assists). Stanwood graduated midfielder CJ Hillbrand (28 goals, 7 assists) but have plenty of help as they only graduated 3 of their top ten scorers last year.

Sophomore goalie Eric Wietzke (0.495 Sv%) took on the majority of the game time. He held a soft save percentage but was still winning every game he participated in. His save percentage could show some growth this season having done an impressive job for his first year with Spartans.

#5 - Juanita Rebels – KingCo

The Rebels are playing in one of the toughest conferences in our state and it shows with them winning every non league game but losing 6 of their conference games ending their season with an 8-6 conference and 11-6 overall record.

Juanita Rebels will move forward this season without their top scorer midfielder Connor Campbell (41 goals, 5 assists) and look to senior attackman Cade Alonzo (23 goals, 21 assists).

The Rebels goalie Brogan Bartch (0.512 Sv%) graduated after the 2016 season so they may lean on junior defenseman Ty Maurer to fill the goalie position having saved all 6 of the shots made against him last season.

Potential Dark Horse:
Lake Washington Kangaroos – KingCo

The Kangaroos will look to improve their offense this year for they had the worst offense among their current Division I rivals ending their season with a 7-7 conference record.

Lake Washington is going to do without their top two scorers from last year, CJ Schuster (28 goals, 13 assists) and Devin Brickzin (22 goals, 6 assists). Junior attackman and midfielder Beau Heimdahl (20 goals, 12 assists) and junior attackman Quang Do (10 goals, 3 assists) will need to fill in against this tough conference.

Lake Washington could split more of their goalie time between returning senior goalie Jacob Saunderson (0.343 Sv%) and junior goalie Grayson Byrd (0.388 Sv%). With how powerful this conference’s offense is, the Kangaroos will need all they help they can get to strengthen that defense.

4A – Preseason Top 5 Teams:

#1 - Woodinville Falcons – KingCo

The Falcons ended their season with great numbers having 231 points for, 122 points against and an 11-3 conference record. To illustrate how competitive this conference is, those numbers were barely top 5 among their competitors. Great news is they only graduated two players from a squad that scored over 10 points in 10 out of 14 of their conference games.

This Falcon offense will be excited for the return of big time scorer senior attackman Tomomi Hirai (39 goals, 16 assists), Woodinville’s rising star sophomore attackman Mason Leet (38 goals, 8 assists) and senior midfielder Alexander Blue (28 goals, 10 assists). Together these three made up about 45% of the teams total goals that year. It will be interesting to see the growth this group has made for this season.

Senior goalie Matthew Corbin had a rough season last year with a save percentage under 50%. Curious to see if Woodinville will incorporate now junior goalie Jason Paratore who was able to save 10 out of 14 shots during the 4 games he played in. If the Falcons are able to improve the defense from last year, there could be a deep playoff run for them.

#2 - Skyline Spartans – KingCo

Skyline had an explosive offense last year blowing out nearly every team they defeated and holding the ranked #2 offense in the conference (257 PF). The average point disparity on all of their conference victories was 13.3 points. The Spartans struggled defensively ending the season with the 2nd worst defense among current 4A teams and a 10-4 conference record.

Spartans are returning Skyline’s top two scorers senior attackman Nolan Eggert (28 goals, 11 assists) and junior midfielder Nathan Brandt (23 goals, 4 assists). They’ll do without ranked #3 scorer midfielder Sam Taaffe (21 goals, 10 assists) but returning senior Jack McCarthy (18 goals, 21 assists) will be back to fill this spot. McCarthy had a great year tying for second in the conference in assists. Junior LSM, Will Carson could be an All-American candidate. (Bainbridge's Lucas Pedersen is potentially the only one better at the position in this state).

Skyline graduated their goalie Cam DeWeirdt who ended the season with a 56% save percentage. They will look to senior goalie Lucas Tjom who blocked 11 of 18 shots in the seven games he played in. With the Spartans holding a top two offense and only graduating one of their top three scorers, they could find a deep playoff run if they are able to tighten up the defensive side of the field.

#3 - Issaquah Eagles – KingCo

Issaquah had a very promising run last season while toppling an undefeated Bellevue Wolverines team in a nail biter to a deep playoff run before their eventual loss to the Eastside Catholic Crusaders. They finished their season with the ranked #3 offense (252 PF) and number two defense (102 PA) and a 12-2 conference record. They finished regular season in strong fashion with an 8 game run.

The bad news, the Eagles had to say good-bye to their top four scorers of the season, midfielder Jake Lindahl (33 goals, 11 assists), attackman Ryan Egland (28 goals, 17 assists), attackman Cody Klansnic (24 goals, 8 assists) and midfielder Jake Gonzalez (19 goals, 6 assists). Together these four made up about 40% of their seasons goal total. Issaquah will be looking to see returning senior attackman Trey DeTolla (14 goals, 4 assists), junior midfielder Jared Humenny (12 goals, 9 assists) and senior midfielder Kyle Wisler (11 goals, 5 assists) step up to the challenge this conference has to bring.

The Eagles will see returning junior goalie Nick Dahlquist (0.541 Sv%) who shared a fair portion of the game with former Eagles goalie Jordan Dondoyano. Dahlquist may get similar help this year as he grows into his position.

#4 - Tahoma Bears – Puget Sound

The Tahoma Bears dominated their season with a high scoring offense (281 PF) that teams struggled to match. It was a great year to watch until their heartbreaking loss to Skyline in the first play-off round.

The Bears’ point scoring trio is losing a key member this year, attackman Trevor Larsen (33 goals, 36 assists). Larsen easily had the most assists in his conference and also holding third best in the league. They are returning the other two, senior attackman Matty Taylor (38 goals, 23 assists) and senior midfielder Eli Przychodzen (35 goals, 21 assists). Together the three of them made up nearly 40% of their teams total league points. It can be expected that there will be a similar performance from them this year.

The goalie position was split between now graduated Tim Hogan and junior goalie Tyler Powell. They made a good pair saving around 50% of their shots. Tahoma has typically split this position in the past so it will be curious to see who will split it with Powell this season.

#5 - Eastlake Wolves – KingCo

Eastlake enjoyed an overall improved season from the previous year coming from a 5-5 record in 2015 to a 10-4 record last year. The Wolves had a great defensive year in this competitive conference only allowing 106 points, which ranked their defense 3rd behind Bellevue and Issaquah.

They graduated two of their top three scorers last year losing midfielder Chandler Toliver (27 goals, 9 assists) and midfielder Garrett Edwards (26 goals, 4 assists). They will be looking forward to the return of top scoring player junior attackman Andrew Edwards (34 goals, 6 assists) and senior midfielder Daniel Bradley (19 goals, 2 assists). Edwards had a monster year as a sophomore scoring 34 goals so it’ll be interesting to see more growth from him this season.

The Wolves will be without goalie Abe Escarda (0.623 Sv%) who played the majority of the overall game time. Escarda had the second highest save percentage among goalies who took over 100 shots. Returning senior goalie Noah Morse will have big shoes to fill but he showed promise by saving 11 of the 15 shots he was challenged with last season.

Potential Dark Horse:
Bothell Cougars – KingCo

The Bothell Cougars were in the bottom of the current Division I teams in the KingCo conference with a 5-9 conference record.

The Cougars are losing their star scoring player midfielder Paul Hanrahan (43 goals, 14 assists) who led the conference in regular season goals last year. They will be looking towards junior midfielder and attackman Stuart MacDonald (24 goals, 6 assists) and returning senior midfielder Colin Dempsey (18 goals, 5 assists) to bring the heat and make up for their loss of Hanrahan. Kamiak's top scorer from 2016, Alex Indelicato is now at Bothell, one of just two seniors, and will potentially have a huge impact on their offense.

Former goalie Nash Cogan ended the season with a 0.377 save percentage leaving much to be worked on for their defense this season. Bothell experienced the most shots on goal out of the entire conference with 252 recorded shots. With Cogan having graduated the Cougars will have to look for another player to fill this position this season and bare the onslaught of what is this KingCo conference offense.

Story by Michael Thornbloom