Shady Side Academy lacrosse has rebuild ahead

Sunday, March 25, 2018 | 11:40 PM

The Shady Side Academy boys lacrosse team finished 13-9 last year and made it to the WPIAL semifinals. If the Indians are to have another successful season, first-year coach Cam Thompson must replace three key players.

“We lost Clayton Krol, an All-American who now plays at D-I High Point University; Chris Woodings, now at Washington & Lee; and Mac Ference, who is now playing at Rhodes College,” Thompson said.

“They played big roles for us. Clayton had 85 points last year, Mac was a force on both sides of the field and Chris anchored the face-offs and won over 70 percent of them. We have a lot of offense to replace.”

SSA will have 11 returning starters and letterwinners led by junior defender Ronan O'Connor (All-WPIAL), junior left side middle Connor Leemhuis (All-Section), seniors Ben Ream (attack), Blake Benko (defense) and Spencer Smith (defense/midfield). They will be joined by juniors Adam Williams (goalie) and Colm O'Connor (midfield) along with sophomores Thoman Muse (defense), Jack Rice (midfield), Jack Naughton (midfield) and George Grune (attack).

Promising newcomers for the Indians include junior Jack Calihan (defense), sophomores Michael Dimarsico (goalie), Eric Evenson (attack) and Trent Lane (attack) plus freshmen Jack Todd (midfield) and Chazz Troutman (midfield).

“We have a strong core of guys that love the game of lacrosse,” Thompson said. “Their passion for the game and desire to be great are difficult attributes to coach, which makes our job easier. We have a number of returning players that gained a lot of valuable experience last year playing as freshmen and sophomores. These young men are prepared to take the next step in 2018.

“We will again be competing in a tough section. North Allegheny always competes for a section and WPIAL championship, and Fox Chapel has a strong group of experienced players poised to go after the section title. I am cautiously optimistic about our team. We have a small roster and will need to stay healthy. We will be relying a lot on young players, but our leadership is strong. We feel as though we can compete with anyone in Class AAA, and our goal is to compete for a chance to play for the WPIAL championship.”

Thompson, who was offensive coordinator for three years under Chris McCrady, is in his first year as a head coach and is eager to start the season.

“I learned a lot from Chris as he changed the culture of the FC program as he led the team to three straight playoff berths and will apply what I have learned.

“We made it a priority this year to play the toughest nonsection schedule possible to prepare the team. We will take our spring break to Baltimore for a pair of tough scrimmages and will also play Pine-Richland, Mt. Lebanon, Seneca Valley, Kiski Prep, Western Reserve and the Hill Academy from Toronto.”

Marty Stewart is a freelance writer.


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