Nike/US Lacrosse HS Girls' South Region Preseason Top 10

PHOTO BY JOHN STROHSACKER

Junior Erin Degnan returns to a Milton (Ga.) roster that finished as the top team in the South in 2017, but lost 10 starters.


The Nike/US Lacrosse High School National Top 25s and Regional Top 10s for boys' and girls' lacrosse were released Tuesday. Over the next few weeks, we will roll out in-depth previews for each of the five regions.

(Teams in the South region, including Florida and Texas, have already begun play. These rankings and capsules were written before the season started. Check back to uslaxmagazine.com for the first in-season update next Tuesday.)

1. Hutchison (Tenn.)
2017 Record: 20-1

Seven starters return from the Hutchison squad that won its seventh consecutive TGLA championship last year. Four-time all-American attacker Griffin Gearhardt graduated, but the Sting return All-American midfielder Elizabeth Farnsworth, a Virginia commit. She is part of a talented senior class that will be a strength. Other top returners include midfielder Jordan Groover, attacker Lizza Ball and defender Macy McCullough, who are all seniors, and junior goalie Anne Cater.

2. American Heritage-Delray (Fla.)
2017 Record: 19-1

The Stallions return 11 starters from last year’s team, which suffered its only loss in overtime in the third round of the Florida state playoffs. Included on that list of returning players is sophomore Caitlyn Wurzburger, who is committed to Syracuse and is one of the top players in the country after amassing 101 goals and 117 assists last year. Other top players include junior attacker Allegra Catalano and a trio of seniors in midfielders Kristen Zenor and Maddie Andrews and defender Maddie Pyle.

3. St. Thomas Aquinas (Fla.)
2017 Record: 18-2

The Raiders won 16 straight before losing in double overtime in the Florida state championship to Bishop Moore. They return nine starters, but lost All-American midfielder Ali Beekhuizen. All-American attacker Carly Steinlauf is back, as is All-American goalie Morgan Lusk. Midfielders Kaitlyn Michaud and Caroline Stefans are other key returners. The Raiders have a new coach this year, as Mike Skonieczki takes over the team.

4. Milton (Ga.)
2017 Record: 19-4

The Eagles won their 11th state championship last spring and finished as the top-ranked team in the South, but must prove themselves again after losing 10 starters, including five All-Americans — goalie and 2017 South Region Player of the Year Bridget Deehan, midfielders Courtney Hutchinson and Hannah Demis, attacker Sophie Baez and defender Sydney Catts. The Eagles have nine freshmen on their roster and will be using several newcomers in the lineup this season.

5. Cardinal Gibbons (N.C.)
2017 Record: 19-2

The Crusaders have to replace standout Jordan Lappin’s 87 goals and 53 assists, but they return seven starters from the squad that won a second consecutive NCHSAA state championship last spring. Among those returners are five players who scored at least 40 goals, including All-American/Ohio State commit Grace Nelson (44 goals), and junior attacker Caroline Kimel, who ranked second on the team in assists with 49. This senior class is the first to spend all four years with coach Patricia Alexander, and expectations remain high.






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6. Episcopal School of Dallas
2017 Record: 20-2

The Eagles return seven starters from the first Texas state championship team in program history, led by junior midfielder Jay Browne, who scored 59 goals and recorded 72 draw controls last year. Junior attacker Anna Winkeler (65 goals), junior midfielder Caroline Cheetham (52 draw controls) and goalie Gianna Pope are among the top returners, as are defender Story Langston and midfielder Ashley Carter, both of whom missed last year. ESD is fast and experienced. A competitive schedule should prepare the team for the state playoffs.

7. Blessed Trinity (Ga.)
2017 Record: 19-3

The Titans return seven starters who were part of last year’s team that won a second consecutive GHSA 1-5A state championship. The Titans have good depth this year, but must replace standout midfielder Mary Markwordt. Senior attacker Trish Marcoccio, senior midfielder Brittney Villhauer, junior midfielder Kaley Attaway, senior defenders Elise Hammelrath and Caroline Lewis and junior defender Camryn Johns are top returning players.

8. Barron Collier (Fla.)
2017 Record: 20-2

The entire starting defense returns for the Cougars, who knocked off perennial power Vero Beach to reach the Final Four. Seven starters return in all, but the offense must regroup after losing three starters, including All-American attacker Jo Imbriani. Senior midfielders Caroline Peterson, Elise Paolini, Madison Ryan and Mackenzie Ryan and junior midfielder Abigail Franklin are top returners. The Cougars did pick up several transfers and have a tough schedule that includes Vero Beach.

9. Lassiter (Ga.)
2017 Record: 17-4

The Trojans return six starters from last year’s regional championship team. They’re young with a core of five juniors and four sophomores among the top players. A strong schedule with games against Maryland’s Roland Park, Archbishop Spalding and Glenelg, American Heritage-Delray (Fla.), defending Florida state champ Bishop Moore and Hockaday (Texas) should have the team ready for the playoffs. Sophomore attacker Elizabeth Harrison, a Florida commit, is a player to watch in the region.

10. Bishop Moore (Fla.)
2017 Record: 20-4

The Hornets rallied to win their first Florida state championship last year, but lost 12 seniors, including two All-Americans, and return just five starters. Sophomore goalie Regan Alexander, sophomore attacker Kate Piscopo, senior midfielder Cate Curry and junior attacker/midfielder Ellie Stricker are key returners. An early game against Lassiter will show if the Hornets are rebuilding or have reloaded.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Jay Browne, Episcopal School of Dallas (Texas), Jr., M/A (Stanford)

Elizabeth Farnsworth, Hutchison (Tenn.), Sr., A/M (Virginia)

Tess Meurling, Apex (N.C.), Sr., M (Old Dominion)

Carly Steinhauf, St. Thomas Aquinas (Fla.), Sr., A (Johns Hopkins)

Caitlyn Wurzburger, American Heritage-Delray (Fla.), So., A (Syracuse)

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