While many of the area's most talented lacrosse players will disperse around the country to begin college, several local high school teams will reload to stay on top next season.
The McDonogh girls' lacrosse team carries a 155-game winning streak into the offseason -- the longest in the nation. While the Eagles will lose several top players to graduation, they are stocked with high-caliber underclassmen who are ready to continue that dominance. Leading the way is junior Andie Aldave, who has already played for the U.S. Under-19 team. Also returning are talented midfielders Maddie Jenner, Sam Thacker and Emma Tilson, along with attacker Catie May.
The Eagles will enter the season as the nation's No. 1 team. Roland Park, Notre Dame Prep, St. Paul's School for Girls, St. Mary's and Severn all will be looking to end McDonogh's run of eight straight conference titles.
McDonogh was also the top team on the boys' side. The Eagles won their first Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A conference crown since 2005 with an 8-5 victory against Boys' Latin. McDonogh will lose 14 seniors to graduation but still has enough depth to overcome those losses. Boys' Latin, Calvert Hall, St. Paul's, Loyola Blakefield and Severn will also fight for that top spot. While Gilman will try and rebound from a down season.
In the MPSSAA, Fallston will be gunning for its fifth state championship in six years. One of the players to watch will be junior midfielder Dylan Wolf, who is a high-caliber Division I recruit. Liberty will also look to build on a strong year, as it searches for its first state title.
Severna Park, with sophomore goalie Barret Casto, and Broadneck will also be tough again this season. So expect another tight battle for supremacy in Anne Arundel County.
In Howard County, Mt. Hebron will look to make another run at a state title after falling short this season.
On the girls' side, Howard County will once again be loaded with talent, with Marriotts Ridge returning a strong group of players, including attacker Victoria Hensh, middie Caroline Blalock and goalie Olivia Ranta. Mt. Hebron and Glenelg, with defender Emily Nalls leading the way, will also be tough.
Manchester Valley will be in the hunt for its fourth consecutive state title. The Mavericks are led by Beanie Colson, Kate Brewster and Madi Carr, while Liberty will once again have a talented roster with Grace Griffin anchoring the midfield. In Baltimore County, the Dulaney girls will look to make a run at another state championship in Class 4A/3A.
PNC Lacrosse Spotlight:
Loyola University Goalie Jacob Stover
Loyola Greyhounds freshman goalie Jacob Stover emerged as one of the team's top players. After taking over the starting job, Stover played a key role in helping Loyola reach the NCAA Division I national semifinals. He went 10-2 as the starter and allowed 7.80 goals per game with a .569 save percentage. Stover, the son of former Ravens kicker Matt Stover, earned three letters at McDonogh, where he was named to the MIAA A conference First Team in 2015.
How did you get better as the season progressed?
Jacob Stover: I watched a ton of film, and I stayed after practice to take shots [from other Loyola players]. I became more comfortable in the cage once I knew I had earned the trust of my teammates. Coach [Charley] Toomey and I would watch film and figure out the tendencies of each offensive player we were playing against. I worked harder to learn the defensive calls and sets, so I could vocally lead the defense during games. I started to enjoy the games more and had fun playing, which allowed me to be more relaxed and focus on the ball.
As a former goalie, what type of advice did Coach Toomey provide during the season?
JS: Coach Toomey and I would meet before practice on Monday's to discuss the defensive breakdowns and goals allowed during the most recent game. He really helped me break down and fix my goalie form. He also helped me process my decision-making while I was in the cage and gave me confidence in my ability. He always said, "Go enjoy the moment and ignore all the distractions that can prevent you from being at your best." He told me before the semifinals game to block out everything above the top pipe of the goal.
What do you plan to work on most during the offseason?
JS: I plan to attack my athletic ability outside of the crease and get even more comfortable with the defensive calls to minimize communication breakdowns. I am also going to be seeing many shots from different shooters around my area.