(Christ School Faceoff Man Sean Dow.|Photo Courtesy of Christ School)
*Over the next month, Lacrosse Bucket will be releasing high school lacrosse superlatives ahead of the 2021 season for a majority of the states in the South.*
It’s January, which means lacrosse season is right around the corner. In the many southern states, the high school lacrosse season is a month away or sooner, especially this year.
High School lacrosse in the Tar Heel State is just 25 days away. January 25th marks opening day for teams in the North Carolina High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA) teams and February 15th marks the start of the season for teams in the North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association (NCISSA), which is made up entirely of private schools.
With the high school season just right around the corner, here are a few superlatives from around the Tar Heel State heading into the 2021 spring season:
Team Most Likely to Win a State Title:
Christ School comes into the 2021 season riding an 11-game winning streak, which dates back to their 19-8 victory over Ravenscroft on April 27th of 2019. And since winning their first NCISAA 3A State title in 2017, have gone 39-6. When the 2020 season was cancelled, the Grennies were 4-0 and had outscored their opponents 60-12. No team has put double digits on them since the eventual 2019 NCHSAA 4A champion Weddington in April of 2019, which is also the last team to claim victory over the Greenies.
While they did graduate a ton of talent last season, including the program’s all-time points leader (337) Davis Lindsey, the Greenies are one of the more talented teams in the Tar Heel state and certainly have what it takes to win a title this spring, which would be their first under second-year head coach Benjie Colberg. Senior faceoff man Sean Dow (Lehigh signee) is the biggest name returning in 2021. He went 90% at the dot last season and should continue his dominance this spring. Senior goalie Sam Brie (St. Bonaventure signee) looks to step in between the pipes as the starter after serving as the backup last season.
Additionally, Juniors Nick Crowley (Princeton commit) and Nate Kelley are two more players to know on this squad. Crowley should be a crucial member of the Greenies’ defense again this season and Kelley should step up even more after notching 14 goals and six assists in 2020.
Team To Watch:
This one was tough, and honestly, there are multiple teams that you could put here. But I’ve gotta go with Hough. The Huskies have put together some successful seasons, record-wise, but have never made it past the state quarterfinals. With the talent they return, perhaps 2021 is the year they get over that hump.
Before the 2020 season was cut short, the Huskies went 3-0 and secured their first-ever win over traditional state power Weddington. While the Huskies did graduate some impactful seniors on both ends last season, they also return a heap of younger-ish talent that could certainly take a step forward in 2021, including a pair of star juniors: faceoff man George Kalos (North Carolina commit) and defenseman John Long (High Point commit). Senior Aidan Olmstead (Lynchburg commit) is the Huskies’ top returner on the offensive end following an 11-point (4G/7A) performance last season.
While there are multiple conferences with arguments of being the toughest in the state, it came down to Conference 6, 16, and 17. And ultimately, Conference 17 is the one that I’m gonna go with here.
Weddington has won the last three 1-3A state titles and will be searching for their fourth in program history this season. Prior to their run, Marvin Ridge won the 1-3A title (2016). They have also been the runner-up twice and have consistently been, at least, final four contenders. Additionally, Charlotte Catholic, while not as consistently dominant in recent years as the aforementioned programs, has a state title to their name (2014) and always fields a pretty solid squad.
Best Offensive Player:
Ardrey Kell senior attackman Cade Caggiano (Georgetown signee) is an absolute offensive weapon. The attackman can score in a multitude of ways and is especially dangerous as an off-ball finisher inside. Rated as a four-star prospect by Inside Lacrosse, Caggiano tallied 132 points (83G/49A) during the 2019 season and led Ardrey Kell to an NCHSAA 1-3A title game appearance.
Coming into the 2021 season, Caggiano is the face of this Knights squad and will be looking to help lead them back to a state title game and a first-ever state title.
Best Defensive Player:
Holly Springs has, arguably, one of the best defenses in the state from a pure talent standpoint. And with the graduation of Noah Arneson, senior Joey Anneta (Loyola signee) looks to be the leader on the back end for the Golden Hawks.
Rated as a four-star prospect by Inside Lacrosse, Anneta was second on the team in ground balls (10) and caused turnovers (10) during the shortened 2020 season while helping them to a 3-0, in which they allowed an average of 6.6 goals per game.
Certainly, the two aforementioned faceoff men have an argument to be put in this spot. However, since I have already sung them some high praise, lets go with a goalie for this spot: Charlotte Catholic senior Paul Reidy (Delaware commit).
A two-year starter and four-star prospect, per Inside lacrosse, Reidy has logged a career save percentage of .616 and made 135 saves. In the two games that the Cougars got in last season, Reidy was certainly a bright spot as he made 15 saves with a 65% save percentage. The 6-foot-4, 180-pound goalie is a game-changing type of asset on the back end and will certainly continue to turn heads this season as a senior.