Second-year Hilliard Bradley High School boys lacrosse coach Andy Buck believes his team's strengths will help it improve on last season, when it finished 3-14 overall and placed fifth in the OCC-Ohio Division.
The Jaguars went 2-4 in the league to finish behind co-champions New Albany (5-1) and Olentangy (5-1), Gahanna (4-2) and Olentangy Liberty (4-2) and ahead of Darby (1-5) and Olentangy Orange (0-6).
Bradley, which plays host to Solon on Thursday, March 28, ended last season with a 7-3 loss to Hilliard Davidson in a Division I Southwest Region play-in game.
"Intelligence and tenacity are two of our most valued strengths," Buck said. "The team is comprised of a talented group of young men who are achieving high levels of academic success. Most of the players hold GPAs over 3.0 and several are 4.0 students.
"As scholar-athletes, they carry the drive to succeed with them onto the field, and that has translated into a hard work ethic intended to exceed expectations. The strong inner desire to achieve success will encourage the team to rally behind a common goal and persevere to attain victory."
Bradley returns its leading scorer from a year ago in senior attacker Nick Biller, who had 22 goals and six assists. Biller is serving as a team captain along with senior midfielder Jared Roudabush and junior attacker Connor McDunn.
Defender Aiden Hall and midfielder Zachary Shomper round out the seniors.
"Last year's leading scorer, Nick Biller, returns to attack alongside one of our leaders in assists, Connor McDunn," Buck said. "Jared Roudabush, a faceoff specialist and defensive midfielder, and Zachary Shomper, an offensive midfielder, provide leadership and expertise during their last season at Bradley."
Also on the team are juniors Chris Apollonio (attacker), Evan Barton (goalkeeper), Brandon Cote (defender), Cameron Hart (midfielder), Mikael Perez (defender) and Jacob Pugh (defender), sophomores Jake Angelo (goalkeeper), Jerrod East (midfielder), Cole Gillfillan (defender), Evan Lewis (midfielder) and Jordan Veil (attacker) and freshmen Tristan Flannery (midfielder), Drake Stephens (midfielder) and Simon Ziccardi (attacker).
"We will continue to improve our team communication, quickness, endurance, strength and strategy throughout the season in order to prepare for a postseason run," Buck said.
Wildcats set to begin with new coach
Davidson has a new coach in Kyle Olson, a 2008 Upper Arlington graduate who was named state Midfielder of the Year as a senior and went on play for national-power Syracuse University and Ohio State.
Olson takes over for Jason Godwin, who left after five seasons to become the coach at Liberty.
Last season, Davidson finished 8-10 overall, placed fifth in the OCC-Buckeye and lost to Cincinnati Moeller 14-0 in the first round of the Division I Southwest Region tournament after beating Bradley 7-3 in a play-in game.
The Wildcats went 1-5 in the OCC-Buckeye to finish behind Dublin Jerome (6-0), UA (5-1), Worthington Kilbourne (4-2), Thomas Worthington (3-3) and Dublin Coffman (2-4) and ahead of Dublin Scioto (0-6).
UA defeated Jerome 7-6 in the Division I state final last season.
"I started playing lacrosse in (the Hilliard Youth Lacrosse Association) and thought that coaching at Davidson would be a great way to give back to the community that got me started," Olson said. "I feel we have a great group of kids, starting at the top with the nine seniors, and I am excited to see what they can do on the field this spring."
The Wildcats return one of their top scorers from a year ago in senior attacker Brian Thomas, who had 25 goals and three assists. Another key returnee is junior goalie Seth McCall, who had 205 saves and a .557 save percentage.
Thomas is serving as a team captain along with seniors Davidson Hunter (midfielder) and Nick Tholt (attacker) and juniors Brett Annis (midfielder) and William Backenstoe (midfielder).
Rounding out the seniors are Landon Gruszewski (defender), Brian Kegelmeyer (midfielder), Samuel Lieburn (attacker), Galen Moore (defender), Tyler Pelle (long-stick midfielder) and Matt St. Clair (midfielder).
"Our senior class is the strength of the team," said Olson, whose team opens Wednesday, April 3, at home against Thomas in a league game.
"They have done an excellent job of leading both on and off the field. I believe due to their leadership that the season will be a success. They know that this is a team sport and everyone on the team needs to be working hard for the team to succeed."
Also on the roster are juniors McKenzie Burton (midfielder), Tanner Calland (defender), Spencer Cline (defender), Matthew Dugan (midfielder), Parker Foard (midfielder), Luke Myers (attacker), Edward Powers (defender), Chad Rice (defender), Drew Shaffer (attacker), Gregory Snauwaert (midfielder), Joseph Szabo (midfielder) and Jason Weihl (attacker), sophomores Nicholas Jerger (midfielder), Andrew St. Clair (defender), Ian Timan (goalie) and Matthew Wayman (defender) and freshmen Scott Brooks (attacker) and Zachary Nolty (midfielder).
"We need to work hard every time we set foot on the field and good things will happen," Olson said. "We need to get quicker at everything we do to get to the next level."