The 2018 season is finally upon us. And with it comes the pre-season TriangleLax.com Top-10 teams from the Triangle. This year we will be doing things a bit differently as we have a panel of former area coaches watching and voting every week to add a more diverse perspective to the poll. Without further ado, let's get to it!
10. Cedar Ridge Red Wolves(12-5)
The Red Wolves made it all the way to the state finals last year, coming in second to Weddington. Cedar ridge will have a lot of pieces to backfill as they lost their top three scorers, including Jack Wideman's 92 points. Their path isn't made any easier with the addition of East Chapel Hill to their conference.
9. Holly Springs Golden Hawks (9-10)
Holly Springs enters 2018 after a disappointing 2017 campaign. The Golden Hawks will be looking for a youthful resurgence behind Goalie Sean Jesrani (.59SP/6.3GAA) and Attackman Matt Calleri (24G/45A). Sophomores Nathan Greenburg and Noah Arneson will also have to take a bigger role on offense with the graduation of Nate Garland and Justin Boon.
8. Wakefield Wolverines (12-6)
Coach Derin Vacca heads into his second season at his alma mater with eyes on a conference championship. The new Conference 3 now centers around Northern Wake County and the Wolverines want to claim it for their own. Wakefield returns their top two scorers in Kevin Ritter and Connor Pirrung, while Ryan Santos will anchor a more experienced defense. Both Pirrung and Santos have younger siblings who will look to make a name for themselves in 2018.
7. Green Hope Falcons (14-5)
Chas Kaznowski takes over at the helm for Green Hope in the 2018 season. A forner stand-out defenseman for the Falcons, Coach Kaznowski will bring a ton of energy to the sidelines. The Falcons enter a new conference this year and look to be one of the front-runners to take a championship in the newly (re)formed Tri-6. It's not secret the Green Hope offense will go through Aiden Callahan (60g/32a). But the lefty isn't without help as Green Hope returns 7/10 of its top scorers from 2017.
6. Ravenscroft Ravens (10-7)
Ravenscroft fell in the NCISAA quarterfinals in 2017 8-7 to Cannon School. In 2018 coach Kapatos returns a vast majority of his starters headlined by attackmen Jake Schneider and McCabe Watson. On defense the Ravens will be very Jr. heavy with returners Davis Willard, Mac Nelson, and Charlie Winston. Junior Hayden Switzer will be asked to step up between the pipes.
5. Jordan Falcons (14-5)
Jordan enters 2018 after one of the best seasons in program history, flipping the record from 2016. Coach Mike Riccuci will enter his 4th year at the helm looking to improve on the 2017 campaign. The Falcons return their entire offensive production from 2017, including sharp-shooter Jared Halverson and an equally dangerous Yassir Stroud. The big challange for Jordan will be replacing face-off man Tyler Thompson. They will battle it out with Green Hope in the Tri-6 to see which Falcon flies higher for the conference title.
3. Broughton Capitals (17-1)
The Capitals had their State Championship hopes dashed by co-No. 3 Apex 10-9 in the region quarterfinals. Like Jordan, Broughton is looking to replace face-off stand-out Sam Stein, and may boast one of the more potent offenses in the area. That offense is anchored by Van Parker who will have a hand-full of 6'+ midfielders to dish the ball to. The team and defense are anchored by 4-year starter Edward Huffstetler. The Capitals lost a big time defender in Lane Tourtellot (Guilford) and will look to Austin Roweider to step up. Parrish Hinton will guard the cage for Broughton. The new Cap-7 will be a much tougher challenge for the Capitals as they will have to square off against Cardinal Gibbons twice this season.
3. Apex Cougars (15-5)
In what was suppose to be a "down year" for the Cougars, they made a run all the way to the regional semi-finals. Apex returns 3 50+ pt scorers including Preston Lallicker(51g/12a) and Christian Cechini(36g/15a). A big question for Coach Hayden will who will replace 2nd Team All-State goalie Patrick Sasser. Apex is one half of a two-team race to take the always-competative SWAC.
2. Cardinal Gibbons (15-5)
The Crusaders graduated 11 seniors after falling to Middle Creek in the State semi-final matchup. But don't expect Gibbons to do anything but reload. Their highly talented senior class returns 3/4 top scorers and defensive anchors Chris Wozencroft and Jack Beistek. Look for a bunch of young players to play major roles for the Crusaders this spring.They have a chip on their shoulder and are looking for another run to the state championship. They will face-off against #3 Broughton twice this year as they battle for the Cap-7 title.
1. Middle Creek Mustangs (22-0)
The defending state champs walk into the season with a target on their back, and a few less bullets in the chamber. The loss of Charlie Doetzer, Jared Medwar, and Tanner Patrick (201pts) will leave the Caputo brothers (196pts) a little less help on the offensive end. Face-off specialist, and state finals MVP, Graham Schwartz will be a bear for any team to contend with and will do his best to create make-it-take-it situations for the Mustangs. Defensively King will have to be the voice of some new faces and get the defense to gel quickly. The Mustangs start their title defense on the road at #3 Broughton on 2/27/18
On the Radar
There are over 40 teams this year to consider. The following teams also received votes in the preseason poll:
- Durham Academy
- East Chapel Hill
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