The South Lakes High boys' lacrosse team entered this current season with the mindset that it can play with and compete with any team it faces. The fact that the Seahawks made it to the Northern Region playoffs for the first time in the program's history last year was ample evidence that the team is headed in the right direction under head coach Craig Lunde. The success it enjoyed in the 2010 season has given the team momentum and confidence for this season.
Last year saw the Seahawks learn how to win. It was an exciting season as the team played in four overtime games and won them all in dramatic fashion. A late season, 9-8 overtime triumph over Fairfax High clinched a region playoff spot for South Lakes.
Sustaining the momentum from last year, the team opened the 2011 season with two impressive victories in its first two games. The season opener, on March 15, was away against non-region opponent George Mason High (Falls Church), a team that took South Lakes to overtime last season. Behind the solid play of senior goalie Gerarld Goodwin, the Seahawks won by a large margin this time, 16-4. The season-opener victory provided a solid warm up for a South Lakes team many believe can be among the best in the region this spring.
Next up, in a home game on March 17, was a matchup versus Liberty District opponent Stone Bridge. Few pundits favored the Seahawks in this game, but the Reston team emerged victorious, winning by a narrow margin of 8-7.
Seahawk senior attack man Alex Clough, a two-year captain and last year's leading scorer, scored the game-winner. Clough is on schedule to break the program's all-time career points and goals records this season at South Lakes.
"Alex is a winner," said coach Lunde, who led South Lakes to a 7-5 record last year. "Last season, he had the overtime goal to put us in the regional playoff tournament and he already added another game-winner to his resume this season. If Alex keeps it up he has Player of the Year and All American Potential."
Also back on the team this season is senior captain Harrison Hughes, who a year ago was the second leading scorer for the Seahawks and one of the team's top shooters, scoring on 70 percent of his shots.
Coming back from an injury in 2010 is another attackman, Dan Stromecki, who in the first two games has an impressive five goals and two assists.
The midfield is full of starters from the 2010 campaign.
"The fantastic news about these starters is that they were sophomores last season and are juniors this season," said Lunde, of his middies. "We have a ton of great junior and sophomore midfielders and all of them are back for [next year's] 2012 season!"
Returning from 2010 is Peter Moran, an All-Liberty District Honorable-Mention midfielder as a freshman. Moran is one of the leading face-off specialists in the state and has been doing a fantastic job in 2011.
Nolan Boyle, another Honorable-Mention midfielder from last year's team, had a spectacular game against Stone Bridge.
"Nolan played practically every minute of the Stone Bridge game," said Lunde. "He played `man-down and man-up,' cleared the ball for us, and won key ground balls and scored a clutch goal. I was exhausted just watching him play."
Also back on the team is John Oakes, a top Div. 1 college lacrosse recruit. Oakes was a First Team All-District selection last year and has been chosen as a team captain as a junior this season.
Rounding out the midfield units are sophomore Alex Rofail, who netted an unassisted goal to open up the scoring in the Stone Bridge game, along with Najee Lewis, Kyle Savage, Jeff Church, Tony Dickerson, Alex Graves, Reed Wheeler, Sam Campbell and Tim Johnson.
THE SEAHAWKS' DEFENSE seems to be the big key for the Seahawks this season. Freddy Lehner was an Honorable Mention All-District midfielder in 2010. But over the summer, he picked up a defensive long pole and has not looked back.
Nick Tucker started on the defense last season as a sophomore and also earned Honorable Mention All-District honors. Harrison Drier played a ton of long stick middie as a sophomore. In the recent Stone Bridge game, he drew the assignment of playing and shutting down the Bulldogs' top offensive player.
Last, but not least, is Armani Williams, who rounds out this spectacular, yet young, defensive unit. Off the bench, the Seahawks turn to Clayton Dobry, a man-down specialist, and Michael McHugh, a long stick middie.
"Again, what is amazing about the defense is all of these guys are juniors," said Lunde. "They all have special talents; Freddy is big and strong, Harrison Drier is playing super smart, Nick Tucker has been playing great and when Armani gets in you get the sense that something special is going to happen because he is our takeaway specialist and our whole team anticipates a turnover by the opposition and for our transition offense to kick into gear."
South Lakes' goalies also have been stellar. Alex Tucker, recovering from an injury, got the start at the net-minder position against Stone Bridge and recorded the victory, making five clutch fourth quarter saves against a top-ranked Stone Bridge offense.
"Both of our goalies are special players," said Lunde. "[Gerald] Goodwin is absolutely fearless when facing shots and is considered a 'stopper.' Alex Tucker, a junior goalie, converted from attack as a sophomore and is already is a two-year varsity letter winner. Alex adds a completely different dimension when playing goalie for us. He is super athletic, plays out of the cage and has a frenetic pace to his game. His intensity is contagious to the whole team."
THE SEAHAWKS had their best season to date in 2010 but seem to have all the pieces to having a bigger season in 2011 and will return most of the same players for 2012. This season, South Lakes had over 80 athletes come out for the JV and varsity teams.
"We love that so many guys came out for the team and they are all unique," said Lunde. "We don't believe in making cuts. As long as our guys are doing well academically, and being good citizens in school and in the community, we want them as part of our lacrosse family.
"With so many guys, it is almost impossible to be on top of everything as a coach," said Lunde. "It amazes me how much these guys do on their own. I constantly see the older guys 'looking out' and teaching the younger guys moves or talking about what kind of equipment to use. Each member of the team is integral to our success."
In 2010, the Seahawks had four seniors participate in the Northern Region All Star game. They were: Yoan N'komba (Harvard), Daniel Reineberg (Boston University, six-year medical program), Evan Cox (Villanova) and Reza Moghaddasnia (University of Virginia).
This Thursday night, March 31, South Lakes will play a district game at McLean High. Game time is 7:15.