Published in The Chagrin Valley Times
April 19, 2018
The Kenston lacrosse boys have been waiting three years to eat, and now they’re gorging.
Overcoming a 9-4 halftime deficit and a 9-0 penalty disadvantage, the Bomber laxers defeated Archbishop Hoban, 13-12, on Monday night, improving to a 6-1 record for their best start in program history.
Senior faceoff specialist Dillon Beal, a third-team all-Ohioan and all-region position player of the year last season, had a family commitment and wasn’t figuring to play, but he showed up at the end of the first quarter, eased into his rhythm at the X and completely took over in the second half.
“(He) took a few minutes to get warmed up, turned into Dillon Beal at halftime; found his phone booth and put on his red cape,” Kenston eighth-year head coach Jay Lammers said. “He dominated in the second half.”
Entertaining a Division I offer from Bucknell University as well as interest from Princeton and Division III nation No. 1-ranked Rochester Institute of Technology, Beal isn’t the only Bomber laxer fixing to play at the next level.
Senior all-region attackman Will Britton is planning to play at Clarkson University, senior all-region midfielder Brandon Oakes is going to St. Bonaventure University and senior attackman Clay Barkan is committed to Mount Union, while senior all-state attackman Brian Apshago is a Division I recruit and senior attackman Jack Rogers is fielding Division III offers.
“This senior class is special,” Lammers said. “There are some apex predators in this class that are going to play some high-level college lacrosse moving forward.”
In particular, Apshago, Beal, Britton, Rogers and Oakes have been varsity lacrosse players since their freshman season, while senior defenseman Connor Kure, a three-sport athlete, joined the varsity roster as a sophomore in 2016.
While Kenston graduated some key talent between the pipes and on defense from its 10-8 campaign last season, the bulk of experience from 12 seniors has led the Bombers to its early-season success, Lammers said.
“Now that they are competing against guys their own age and fighting within their weight class, it shows how special they are,” he said. “They’ve been carrying our team for four years, and they’ve been doing a really good job of it, but it’s very difficult when you’re a freshman, sophomore or junior, competing against the senior classes that University School and Chagrin Falls have been able to trot out there over the years.”
In the last five seasons, Kenston is 1-11 in games against University School and Chagrin Falls, with the Bombers last defeating Chagrin by a 16-13 final in 2013.
Although, Kenston has given both programs all they can handle in recent years, losing an 8-7 battle against the Tigers during the Division II regional semifinals last season, and an 8-7 double-overtime heartbreaker against US in 2016.
Not to mention, Kenston’s lone loss this year came by way of a 13-12 decision in a home battle against University School last Wednesday. Nonetheless, the Bombers still outshot the Preppers by double-digits in that affair.
“It starts at the faceoff X with Dillon,” Lammers said. “And he runs our transition game. Between him and Val (Carriero), you know, they get up and down the field very, very quickly.”
Oakes and sophomores Carriero and Jonathan Abbarno run the Bombers’ starting midfield unit, but sophomore defenseman Logan Vargo, who is on the wing for faceoffs, and senior long-stick midfielder Scott Sciuva motor the Bombers in transition.
After the loss to US, Kenston put together a convincing bounce-back victory on the road against Hawken School, 18-3, on Saturday night. Vargo and Sciuva were awarded the golden hammer for their transition efforts that propelled a scoring spree late in the first quarter, when the Bombers took a 7-1 lead they never looked back from.
“We give away a golden hammer in games that we win, and, even though we put a lot of goals on the board, you know, we had two defensive players win the hammer because of their ability to start transition by getting the ball on the ground, getting the ball up and letting our horses run,” Lammers said. “And when we run and gun, we are a team to reckon with.”
Joining Vargo and Kure on close defense this campaign are senior Patrick Vanderbilt and junior Joseph Staudenbauer, who was a goalie last season but has taken to a long pole in his hands like fish to water, Lammers said.
Vargo, in particular, returns as a first-team all-region and third-team all-state selection as a freshman last season.
“That doesn’t happen too often,” Lammers said about a freshman pole getting all-state recognition. “The other coaches that play against us and see us, they know. And it doesn’t take long to see that he is a special, special lacrosse player.
“And I told you we have a special senior class. We have 12 seniors, and Logan was elected captain of our team as a sophomore, which says a lot. And all you have to do is watch him play. He is, as a sophomore, the best long pole I have ever coached.”
That’s saying something, considering the fact that Lammers worked with University School 2009 graduate and all-American defenseman Tommy Visconsi, who led the Preppers to a Division II state championship victory, 7-5, against Mariemont his senior year.
Joining Vargo as a team captain this spring is starting senior goalie Evan Measures, who gets the pleasure of following up the successions of all-region goaltenders Simon Coughlin and Luke Ostoyic.
“Evan is a skilled, fundamentally talented goaltender, and his best aspect is his ability to run the defensive side of the field for us,” Lammers said. “This is his time to be our field general, and he does a really, really good job of leading the defense and getting these guys into the right spots. And even though we tend to possess the ball and get the ball on our offensive side of the field, Evan comes up time and time again with huge saves in huge moments for us.”
Up next, Kenston will travel to Wooster to take on the Generals at 4 p.m. Saturday, before returning home to host Bay Village at 7 p.m. Monday.