Elite league features a slew of contenders for coveted crown; an in-depth look at every team and every key player
by Nelson Coffin
When the last MIAA A Conference game was played in May of 2019, Calvert Hall College was completing an unprecedented three-peat with a 15-7 triumph over St. Mary’s.
And with 24 seniors returning last spring, including C. Markland Kelly Award winning midfielder Cole Herbert, the prospects for a fourth consecutive title for the Cardinals appeared to be promising.
That was before the COVID-19 pandemic put a kibosh on a season that barely had begun last March.
As the sport returns for the 2021 campaign, Calvert Hall will still be one of the mainstays in what appears to be a mad scramble to hoist a trophy in May with several strong contenders vying to prevent the Cardinals from finishing on top again.
Pictured above: MIAA A Lacrosse action between Boys’ Latin and McDonogh from the 2019 season.
Below are profiles of A Conference teams listed below in alphabetical order:
Although the Cavaliers missed the playoffs in 2019, they still knocked off playoff-bound Boys’ Latin and prevailed in two of their last three conference games.
That upswing appears to be on the same trajectory this spring, given the talent that returns for coach Brain Phipps’ squad that split two games a year ago.
“We have a pretty solid core group we’re excited about,” Phipps said, noting that the Cavs have had four scrimmages so far and are getting more comfortable with being back on the field.
Seniors, goalie Jake Oliver (Penn), defenseman Andrew Calvert (Vermont) and attackman Finn Kelly (Syracuse) and junior attackman Stephen Ripley (Navy), will lead the way as captains.
Senior Josh Tang (UMBC) headlines the midfield with junior Michael Weisshaar (Towson) while classmate Alex Ross (Penn State) anchors the defense and fellow junior Ryan Schrier gives the attack more heft.
“We’ve kind of gotten our feet wet with the scrimmages,” Phipps said. “And now we want to show that we can go toe-to-toe with the boys up north (in Baltimore).”
The Cavs will host Severn to open their A Conference slate on March 23.
BOYS’ LATIN SCHOOL
Expectations are always high for the Lakers, and this season is no different.
Having already prevailed, 13-10, over Haverford School, the second-ranked team in the Philadelphia area in phillylacrosse.com’s preseason rankings, BL is showing that its high hopes are not unfounded.
The starting attack boasts seniors Ben Smith (Penn) and Garrett Glatz (Navy) with potent scorer Dom Pietramala (North Carolina) and junior classmates Hopper Zappitello and Nicky Brown also in the mix.
Savvy senior Riar Schell (Delaware) will take a leadership role on the midfield with FOGO/flex Mac Moreland (Salisbury).
Look for junior Ben Mallon and sophomores Jackson Walsh and Colorado native Jacob Pacheco, one of the school’s first boarding students, to also log plenty of quality minutes in the midfield.
Junior Aiden Smith and sophomore Thomas Moxley will help Moreland with face-off duties.
Senior Pierce Rubin and juniors Adam Navarre, Patrick McClure and Nathan Crouse will man the short-stick unit with senior Johnny Maranto (Wesleyan) and junior Owen Holder wielding longsticks.
The close defense is a strong suit, with team captains AJ Hernandez (Navy) and Eddie Lloyd (Williams) teaming with fellow senior Tommy Ozonoff and sophomore Kyle Foster to clamp down on rival offenses.
Junior Cardin Stoller (Rutgers) will get the nod in the goal for coach Brain Farrell’s squad.
Farrell, who starred at BL before doing the same at Maryland, said that he and his team are thankful for at least having the chance to play in what he termed “a historic year in many ways.”
He said that it is taking a concerted effort, from the maintenance crew to school administrators, in order to compete again in what is widely regarded as the best prep lacrosse league in the nation.
“It takes a lot of people to allow us to play,” Farrell said. “It’s such a different year. The kids don’t see each other much during the day, because each class stays on its own floor. So that’s been the toughest part. There could be a time when you’re shut down (because of the virus). We just want to make every minute count. We want to make this season special for the seniors.”
The Lakers welcome Loyola Blakefield on March 23 for the A Conference opener.
CALVERT HALL COLLEGE
Yes, the Cardinals did lose a slew of outstanding seniors after the season that wasn’t in 2020.
And yet there is still plenty to like about a team gunning to hang its fourth banner in succession.
Junior Truitt Sunderland (Virginia) and senior Ethan Long (Penn State) lend a veteran presence on an attack unit that also features promising sophomore Joshua “Shuey” Kelly.
Seniors Mic Kelly (Denver) and Jordan Wray (Georgetown) are the elder statesmen on a midfield that also includes juniors Ed Vasile (Bellarmine), Jeremy Rualo, Thomas Strong and Jojo Dean (Georgetown) and sophomores Wyatt Hottle and Joe Dugan.
A group of short-stick defenders, such as seniors Liam Kammar and Dan Reilly (Towson), junior Evan Huffman and sophomores Noah Brannock and Josh Nagy, will work in concert with senior long-stick Connor Young (Florida Tech), junior Aden Johnson and sophomore Bradley Johnson (no relation).
Seniors JK Kelly (Cornell), Patrick Droney and Brian King (Army West Point) are featured on the close defense with juniors Luke McAuliffe (Lehigh), Jordan Beck and Orville Imirie also stationed in front of three quality goalies — senior Luke Downs (Towson) and juniors Luca Mercaldo (High Point) and Tommy Lubin (Marquette).
Although Calvert Hall coach Bryan Kelly will not have the depth he has had at his disposal the last few years, he is by no means conceding the Cards’ title quest.
“I feel good about where we are,” the coach said, while saying in no uncertain terms that he thinks playing the season will buoy everyone’s spirits. “It’s been tough for players and coaches, but these kids need to play. That’s my No. 1 goal — to make sure these kids get to play this season.”
Calvert Hall hosts Gilman on March 23 to open the 2021 season.
As a former National High School Coach of the Year in 2015 while he was still at Haverford School in Philadelphia, John Nostrant’s Fords would play fairly often against A Conference teams.
Yet after last year’s debut season as the Greyhounds’ head coach was all but wiped out by the pandemic, the former Washington College All-American will get a real taste of what it’s like to be challenged by the nation’s most competitive prep lacrosse league on a regular basis.
With that in mind, Nostrant’s youthful squad will need to grow up quickly against some of their more experienced rivals.
To be sure, there is enough of a veteran presence to keep Gilman in the hunt, including seniors Charlie Pope (Vermont) and Tucker Hebert leading lefty sophomore Oscar Woloson and freshmen Mike Maloney and Clayton Baddley in the attack rotation.
The first midfield line features senior Jake Tompkins, junior Chase Brody and sophomore Warry Colhoun with junior Mac Nichols and freshmen Jay Wilkerson and James Meyer also in the mix.
The defensive midfield will be buttoned up by seniors Cole Frank and Talbot Troy (Franklin & Marshall) and junior Ethan Villamater.
Senior Capp Reynolds (Dickinson), sophomore Matt Morelli and freshman George Guyton will fill LSM roles while senior Remy Reynolds, junior Liam Gwyther and sophomore Sean Collins anchor the backline in front of junior goalie Kyle Morris (Virginia).
“This will be a good year for our young guys to start cutting their teeth in the league,” Nostrant said. “I’m excited to see how we will develop and I think that we’re starting to figure things out.”
The Greyhounds will open at Calvert Hall on March 23.
JOHN CARROLL SCHOOL
Let’s not kid ourselves — it’s been a rough go for the Patriots since returning to the A Conference in 2018 after claiming three consecutive B Conference banners.
Moreover, the odds are still stacked against the only league member from Harford County.
Yet new coach Don Reynolds, who took over for Brian King for the abbreviated 2020 campaign, understands that there are obstacles ahead that can be overcome.
Although it will take a Herculean effort to make waves against such stiff competition, the Patriots will give an all-out effort, Reynolds said.
“We are very excited to be back on the field and look forward to competing in the nation’s most competitive lacrosse conference,” he added. “Building a competitive and winning program in the MIAA A Conference is a process — and the players have fully bought in to do what it takes on and off the field.”
The defense appears to be a strong suit, with seniors Elie Fraiji (UMBC), Ethan Thomson (Canisius), Connor Boyle (Washington College) and Jack Owen (Harford Community College) joining junior long-stick Nick Ciampaglio to help shield junior goalie Alex Stewart.
Senior Jackson Marindin (Lynchburg College) paces the attack with juniors Max Snellenburg and Cam Carrigan also at the ready.
Junior midfielders Travis Smith, Alex Mink, Athan Barmer and Logan Trombley will get the most run on the midfield contingent.
“A strong core of seniors that will anchor us on the defensive end,” Reynolds said. “And offensively we return an unselfish and talented group.”
The Patriots welcome St. Mary’s to Bel Air on March 23 to open their season.
Optimism is high for the Dons, given that coach Gene Ubriaco feels that this year’s squad is a throw-back to Loyola teams of the past that boasted a very high level of athleticism.
“We will be relying on our native ability,” he said. “We’re an athletic bunch and we like to get up and down the field.”
Once Charile Koras (Maryland) returns from an injury in a week or two, an attack that also features fellow seniors Henry Tolker (Navy), Matt Dixon (Loyola Maryland) and TJ Gravante, will be that much stronger.
The midfield will be controlled by the speedy Kevin Tucker (Maryland) and classmates Hayden Miller (Marquette) and Tommy Niehaus (Mount St. Mary’s) with freshman Mason Cook joining the effort.
The senior duo of Michael Haus (Georgetown) and Matt Rice (Fairfield) have locked down the short-stick department with junior AJ Larkin (Maryland) doing the same at longstick.
Seniors Kevin Doyle (Mount St. Mary’s) and junior Billy Dwan (Syracuse) solidify the back-line in front of senior goalie Jack Webb (John Hopkins).
Senior Ian Geesaman (VMI) and junior Cole Myers (Hopkins) draw face-off duties for the Dons this spring.
Loyola’s first A Conference encounter of the season will be at Boys’ Latin on March 23.
Having lost half of their 34-man 2020 roster to graduation, the Eagles are squarely in reload — not rebuild — mode.
With a combination of quality returners and promising newcomers, McDonogh will definitely be heard from this spring.
The attack boasts senior Jack Horrigan (Providence), junior Lucas Behr, sophomore McCabe Millon and freshman Luke Miller.
Horrigan is “an incredible shooter and finisher,” according to McDonogh coach Andy Hilgartner while he praises Millon for his “tremendous work ethic.”
Behr, the coach said, is converting from midfield and should see plenty of action, as should Miller on the left wing.
Four midfielders will rotate on the first line: senior dual-sport star Dante Trader (Maryland), strong 6-foot-3 senior Jack Dudas (Bucknell), tough senior scrapper Hugh Brown (Loyola Maryland) and ambidextrous junior dodger Matt McMillen. Freshman Ben Firlie will also get his share of playing time for the Eagles.
Fleet junior Jonny Cool (Ohio State) leads the long-stick group while junior Aidan Hurdle (Navy), recovering from a leg injury, will pivot from long-stick to a close defense that already has three standouts in senior leader Scotty Hilgartner (Brown), smooth senior Malachi Jones (Virginia) and rangy sophomore AJ Marsh.
Freshman Paul McLucas will join in the fun as well when playing in front of junior goalie Anthony Wilson (Villanova).
Sophomore Zach Hayashi will battle for face-offs as a three-sport star having the athleticism to come up with his fair share of the draws.
Andy Hilgartner said that although the Eagles are not as deep as some other of his previous squads, he hopes to build depth during the season by gradually introducing the younger players to fierce competition.
“We have enough guys to compete with anyone in the league,” the coach said. “Andt if our young guys grow, the sky’s the limit.”
MOUNT ST. JOSEPH
Mount St. Joseph coach Tyler Reid knows what it means to be a champion after being a member of the 2013 Stevenson University team that earned a Division III national title.
He also knows that the chances for the Gaels to hang an A Conference banner are not that promising — yet — in a league that lays waste to those who cannot keep up.
“It certainly presents challenges,” the Connecticut native admitted. “We have to get our guys to understand the level of competition (in the A Conference). And every day we’re going to try to raise the bar to play in the best league in the country.”
The defense appears to be what the Gaels will rely on the most, using 6-foot-3 senior close defenseman Alexander Chairs (UMass-Lowell), junior running mate Brendan Donahue and senior long-stick Aaron Rubeling (St. Mary’s Maryland) and sophomore Daniel McGuire to get the job done in front of junior goalie Tommy Wilk.
Sophomore short-stick Garrett Conley will get plenty of time to show his ability as well.
Senior Brandon Fique will be the “glue guy” on a midfield that also includes senior Dylan Wilson (Flagler College) and Willi Bateman (Washington College) and sophomores Corey Myers, Aiden Addison and FOGO Drew Rippeon.
The attack will be bolstered by Glenelg Country School junior transfer Finnegan Schmidt and sophomores Maddux Walton and Jack Spears.
“The whole dynamic of our team is to look out for each other on and off the field,” Reid said. “We also have to try to get better every day because if you don’t, someone else (on another team) will. The sophomores and I came into the program together and they are leading the charge. But our senior captains (Rubeling, Chairs and Wilson) are setting the standard. These are exciting times for Mount St. Joe lacrosse.”
With a 19-9 thumping of Saints Peter & Paul already under their belt, the Admirals have at least experienced the joys of competition again after a year devoid of such opportunities.
“It was just good to be out there and have a live event at our school,” Severn coach Joe Christie said. “It was especially good for our seniors, because the Class of ’21 has really taken it on the chin (during the pandemic).”
The game just whetted the appetite for Christie’s club, which will strive to overcome a lack of depth with durability and determination this spring.
To that end, a slew of old-school, two-way midfielders will key the Admirals’ hopes for a playoff run in May.
Those throw-backs include seniors Conner Layden and Walker Sherrill (Tampa), juniors Justin Queen (UMBC) and Brady Ervin, sophomore Davis Cawlfield and freshman Andrew Beard.
Senior Owen Wellschlager (Lynchburg), heady junior Paul Baldwin (Air Force) and converted sophomore midfielder Jacob Todd key the attack unit.
Jacob Darrow, the latest in a long line of Admirals to head a few miles south to attend the Naval Academy, will pace the close defense with senior classmate Sean Donegan (Monmouth) and junior Antonio Money, while senior PJ Roth (Ithaca College) and sophomore Sotiropoulos-Lawrence wield long-sticks to shield either senior goalie Will Perez or sophomore Lucas Murray.
Freshman Reid Gills takes the lead FOGO role for Severn, which will rely on its many younger players to be successful this spring.
“We have so many freshmen and sophomores in key roles,” Christie said. “Our most experience is on defense, and we’re hoping to be fast in transition with our two-way middies. We have a lot of interchangeable parts, but everybody has fill their roles. Our kids are sharp and resilient, and they relish the underdog role.”
The Admirals first league test will come after a short trip to Archbishop Spalding on March 23.
St. Mary’s coach Victor Lilly’s club will rely on a stingy and savvy defense to help carry the Saints through the season.
“It’s the strength of our team,” Lilly said about Maryland-bound seniors Wes Schmidt and Colin Burlace and classmates Nick Kaufman (Johns Hopkins) and Jack Mullen on close defense.
Seniors Chris Golinii and Marcus Coleman pace the short-sicks with sophomores Wyatt Cotton and Sean Berzins.
Junior long-stick George Acton (Georgetown) will aid the transition game to senior midfielders Will Brimhall (Monmouth), Nicky Souza (High Point), Jack D’Agostino and Ford Marchant and sophomores Casey Smith, Gavin Burlace and Bobby Keane.
The role of FOGO can be filled by any number of specialists, such as senior JJ Carl, sophomores Justin Webber and Caden Dudley and freshman Teddy Androus.
Senior lefty Tyler Barnett (UMBC), junior Glenelg Country School transfer Will Hopkins (Bucknell) and sophomores Nick Golini and Eric Chick pace the attack.
Senior Riley Evans (Monmouth) and juniors Bryant O’Donnell (Marist), Zack Overend and Adam Bell form a deep goalie corps.
Lilly said that his team is itching to match up with an opponent.
“The opportunity to compete will be enjoyable for everybody,” he added. “We have some maturity on defense and are young on the offensive end. We’re looking for our younger guys to fill game minutes while they improve.”
The Saints’ season starts with a long road trip to Bel Air to face John Carroll on March 23.
ST. PAUL’S SCHOOL
If there’s one thing you can count on this season it’s that the Crusaders are counting on big things from Noah Chizmar.
“I can’t imagine that there’s a better leader in the conference than Noah,” St. Paul’s coach Trey Whitty said, noting that the versatile Chizmar will also join the midfield in certain situations.
Lefty sophomore Michael Smyth will also get every opportunity to shine at attack as will an all-junior trio of Jake Bair, Kabe Clark and Jake Nottoli at midfield.
Juniors Keegan Treacy (Army West Point) and Jake Moore will be stationed on close defense with Oregon native Owen Hire taking over at long-stick and scrappy junior FOGO Connor Dunay handling face-off chores.
Whitty said that Treacy’s size and strength are key attributes of his game and he believes that Moore is an underrated defender.
Two top-notch performers, senior Zac Schwartz and junior Max Watkinson (Loyola Maryland), will play between the pipes for the Crusaders.
“We’ve always been blessed with great goalies at St. Paul’s,” Whitty said.
As far as the season goes, Whitty said that he expects his team to be in the running for a championship — which would be the program’s 26th overall and first in more than a decade.
“We have a lot of talent, although it’s mostly unproven,” he said. “But it’s going to be exciting to have so many young kids on the team.”
The Crusaders begin league play against Mount St. Joseph in Brooklandville on March 30.