Thursday, May 26, 2022

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Jesuit Lacrosse Reigns Supreme, Wins BACK TO BACK State Championships

Jesuit Lacrosse Reigns Supreme, Wins BACK TO BACK State Championships
The lacrosse team holding their trophy

The 2022 Jesuit Dallas varsity lacrosse team had officially declared themselves the best program in Texas with an 11-10 victory over cross-town rival Episcopal School of Dallas on Sunday, May 8 in the Texas High School Lacrosse League Class AA State Championship. Class AA is the highest level a team can play in the state of Texas and Jesuit has won the state championship in back-to-back years. The team led by Chris Surran (Head Coach), Nate Lewnes (Offensive Coordinator), Carl Sprock (Defensive Coordinator), Matthew Ward (Assistant Defensive Coordinator), and Brandon Banister (Goalie Coach). The team also received help from Ted Hovivian, Hank Likes ’14, Colton Hart ’16, and Lee Martin.

THSLL Championship Weekend

Annually, the Texas High School Lacrosse League (THSLL) hosts all of the championships on the same weekend in the same location. The Class A and Class AA semifinals are played during the weekend. The championship weekend is usually held in early May. Every year, the championship will rotate, moving from the general areas of Dallas, Houston, and Austin. This year’s championship was held in Dripping Springs outside of Austin. The Dripping Springs lacrosse program helped run the concessions and general operations of the weekend. If the schedule stays consistent, the tournament should be held in Dallas next year.

St. Mark’s

The game started on a hot Saturday at noon, both teams tense as a trip to the state championship was on the line. Jesuit got off to an early lead in the first, winning 6-2 going into the second. Both defenses played excellent, St. Marks held Jesuit to just one point and Jesuit shut out St. Marks. The Rangers expanded their lead slightly in the third, scoring two and letting in one goal. In the fourth, both teams scored three goals, giving the Rangers a 12-6 win and a trip to the state championship.

Charlie Schmidt ’23 scored a hat trick on the day. Mac Hobbs ’22 and Charlie Metz ’22 also scored twice. Beckett Foley ’24 and LSM Billy Robertson ’23 each scored a goal as well. Mercer Fernandes ’23 and Nate Duncan ’22 each had two assists, while Charles Moran ’22 added an assist of his own.

Charlie Metz ’22 celebrating after a goal

Defensively, Jesuit caused five turnovers and caused the Lions to fail five clears. Moran, Foley, Metz, and Robertson all caused turnovers. In the cage, Connor Knight ’22 had ten saves, a stellar performance. Knight also helped the Rangers go 16-17 on clear opportunities.

Ty Gazzam ’22 on defense

Will Reading ’22 was sensational on the day. He went 14-21 on faceoffs and picked up 12 groundballs. Reading also had two goals on the day. On one of Reading’s goals, Reading won the faceoff, then pummeled through four St. Mark’s defenders and turned them into his lead blocker seen on a football play before scoring the goal.

Will Reading ’22 on a faceoff

ESD

Everyone could feel the tension in the air as the players warmed up on the grass field behind the stadium before the game. Everyone was trying to do their part to help Jesuit win. The dads were loading up coolers with waters and Gatorades to cool the players down. The moms were praying for their sons to do their best. The younger siblings of the players were setting up canopies to shield themselves from the scorching sun.

The sounds of the crowd and the whistles of the referees of the game before were blaring everywhere, yet somehow it was silent in the heads of the players. The spectators from both teams watched the trophy presentation of the Class A championship. They saw the jubilance of the victors as they raised their trophy in the air. They saw the pain of defeat in the loser’s eyes having come so close to greatness. Everyone knew what was on the line.

Jesuit started the game behind as senior Mac Rodvold would score less than a minute into the game for ESD. The Rangers would respond with a goal from Charlie Schmidt assisted by Charles Moran. Rodvold would score again for ESD before Beckett Foley would hit a rocket to the top left corner of the cage to tie the game. ESD would go on a three point run to close the quarter, resulting in the Rangers trailing 5-2.

Charlie Schmidt ’23 scored early in the third on an assist from Metz, but ESD responded with two goals of their own, including a third from Rodvold giving him a hat trick on the day. In hopes of minimizing the deficit before the half, Charlie Metz scored with nine seconds left in the half. The team entered the half trailing 7-4.

Jack Emery ’22 on defense

The team went into the locker room frustrated at what was happening as Jesuit had previously destroyed ESD when they played them earlier in the year. The coaches talked to them about their performance and necessary adjustments.

The Rangers came out of the half ready to pounce on ESD with several great offensive possessions resulting in good shots, however, they couldn’t capitalize on any opportunities, until Max Fernandes ’23 would score with 4:21 left in the third. Charles Moran would add another goal on an assist from Mac Hobbs before the end of the third. Jesuit’s defense held ESD scoreless in the third, putting Jesuit back in contention for the fourth.

Max Fernandes ’23 and Michael Mathie ’23 on defense

The Rangers had created a close game, that fans were really starting to get into it. Fans started yelling at every loose ball or turnover from the other team in hopes of cheering their team to victory.

Jesuit’s momentum was soon lost, however, as neither team scored for the first half of the fourth quarter until ESD scored on back-to-back goals less than a minute apart giving ESD their second 3 point lead of the game. With just under six minutes left in the game, Nate Duncan scored his first goal of the day to give the Rangers hope of a comeback. ESD soon responded with yet another goal, giving ESD their third 3 point lead of the game (it should would be a shame if they somehow managed to choke a 3-point three times). That’s when Jesuit decided to take it personally.

With 4:43 left in the game, Will Reading won the faceoff and took it straight to the rack, proving once again how he is too big, fast, and strong for any defense that has attempted in vain to stop the giant. A minute later, Jesuit rode hard and forced ESD to make a bad pass to their goalie during a clear, one which the goalie was not expecting and the ball went in the goal reducing the lead to one. With just over two minutes left in the game, Beckett Foley sniped it to the corner tying the game for Jesuit.

Will Reading ’22 on a faceoff. Trust me, he’s bigger than you.

ESD had done an excellent job of playing defense on Mac Hobbs all day, but Hobbs was determined to win. With less than a minute left, Hobbs got the ball, plowed through the middle of the ESD defense, and scored a goal, giving Jesuit an 11-10 lead. With a minute left, ESD knew they had to act fast on offense. The Jesuit defense did amazing, doing exactly what they practiced all year. Connor Knight had two spectacular saves in the final minute before chucking it downfield with a few seconds left on the clock to give Jesuit the win.

Jesuit overcame three 3 point leads, and at one point they were down by four points to ESD. In the end, Jesuit emerged victorious.

Postgame

Jesuit players stormed the field as sticks and helmets were raining down on them. Jesuit players were jumping up and down, hugging each other, their past memories of all their hard work rushing to their heads. Players rushed to the stands to hug their parents over the railing of celebration with members of last year’s state championship team who are now in college. The coaches hugged and congratulated one another on what a great season they had.

The team storming the field celebrating their victory

After a little bit of celebration, the teams met near the sideline to shake hands with one another, before preceding to the opposite sideline in front of their parents. Both schools cheered loudly for all the players, coaches, and officials who hustled all season and proved their willingness to work hard to become better and dedicate their sacrifice to achieving athletic excellence.

After recognizing the tournament MVPs, the senior captains received the trophy and hosted it in the air for the team to huddle around and join in the celebration. They then preceded to do the Jesuit yell. Afterward, the team received their medals before picking up helmet after helmet trying to find theirs and sorting whose pair of the ten identical gloves was whose. They then went out under the bleachers for a final post-game address from Coach Surran.

Connor Knight doing a Gatorade dump on Coach Surran following their win

After his final speech to the team, the team came out to celebrate with their families. They gave their moms a kiss and their dads a hug, before taking family photos with the trophy. Many seniors took group photos of friends that whom they have done club lacrosse for many years, including one group of seniors who took a photo of the Dallas Deuces lacrosse team that has been together since first grade. Once everybody decided that enough photos were taken, families began their long drive home to Dallas.

The team huddling around their trophy

Awards

Many Jesuit players played outstanding all tournament long, however, a few awards were given to recognize those who excelled above their peers.

Offensive MVP- Will Reading ’22 FOGO

Defensive MVP- Max Fernandes ’23 Defensive Midfielder

Overall MVP- Mac Hobbs ’22 Attack

A group photo of the team MVPs

Commitments

This year’s senior class has left a legacy to be remembered in the lacrosse program for a long time. Several of the seniors will continue to leave a legacy next year by playing at the collegiate level.

Mac Hobbs (Attack) – Penn State University

Charles Moran (Attack) – Sewanee: The University of the South

Jackson Strauser (Attack) – Southwestern University

Nate Duncan (Midfield) – Virginia Military Institute

Charlie Metz (Midfield) – Rollins College

Jay Hooker (Defense) – University of Mary Washington

Connor Knight (Goalie) – University of Richmond

Will Reading (FOGO) – Babson College

Jesuit Lacrosse Class of 2022 seniors after their last game together

The Future

Although Jesuit will lose many key seniors, the future still looks bright for the future of Jesuit lacrosse. Jesuit will return seven starters next year in addition to several players, who played key roles coming off of the bench this year.

Conclusion

The Rangers finished off a great year of lacrosse with a state championship, however, their season is much more impressive than that. The Rangers went undefeated in-state play, including big wins against rivals ESD twice and Highland Park. The Rangers went 5-2 in out-of-state play with wins against nationally-ranked opponents. Jesuit moved in and out of the Inside Lacrosse national rankings, with their highest ranking being #13 in the nation. The Jesuit team has been ranked the top team in the South since spring break. Jesuit lacrosse has had two players named to the US Lacrosse Magazine Player of the Week for the South, Mac Hobbs and Beckett Foley. The team had 5 all-state players. In addition to all the awards and accolades the Rangers have received this year, the Rangers lacrosse program has grown both as lacrosse players and as brothers, setting up the program for success for many years in the future.

Special thanks to Charlie Schwartz ’24 for providing all the photos used in the article.

A team picture holding the trophy