As the season progresses, formulating these rankings should be getting easier. With the balance in the Central League and the fact that so many teams are playing so well, though, that’s not the case. The top two remain set, but the separation between the next five teams appears to be a moving target from week to week. Here’s the latest offering. (Records through May 8)
1. Haverford School (17-3) Last Week: No. 1
Grant Ament (19 points in his last three games) is on an absolute tear. So much of the Fords’ season, though, comes down to what happens Friday afternoon at Malvern Prep. Can they avenge a two-overtime loss to the Friars last time and unseat the undefeated rulers of the Southeastern PA lacrosse scene this season?
2. Penncrest (17-0) Last Week: No. 2
I was a little startled by the talk from Penncrest after they beat Radnor last week. A lot of the conversations about their share of the Central League title used words like “finish” and “end” as if their journey to the title had culminated. That raised some eyebrows for me that a letdown could be in the offing against Conestoga. There was no such worry, as the Lions wrapped up the undefeated run through the league slate. That’s a testament to not just how skilled this team is, but its fortitude.
3. Radnor (13-3) Last Week: No. 3
The Raiders get the benefit of the doubt here. They are a much different team when midfielder Jack Wilson is healthy, and you can’t help but wonder if his presence alongside Jack Norton in that dynamic midfield could’ve turned the tide of the loss to Penncrest last week. A loss to Springfield isn’t the way they Raiders want to head to the postseason, but they’re certainly still in line for a high seed.
4. Springfield (14-3) Last Week: No. 7
Don’t look now, but the Cougars are winners of six straight, including that triumph over Springfield and a throttling of Upper Dublin, one of the best PIAA teams from Montco. The key is in the reemergence of secondary scoring from people other than Lucas Spence. Whether it’s Mike Gerzabek, Luke Charamella or Dan Wasson, they’ve been getting more of that offense lately.
5. Garnet Valley (12-4) Last Week: No. 6
The Jags have won nine of 10, the only loss an 8-6 setback to Conestoga. That stretch includes a 5-4 win over Ridley that sets their relative hierarchy (if only because it’s freshest in the mind). The Jags are a solid team that proved it could win low-scoring games or more offensive affairs. I think if they are eying a long districts run, though, they need more clinical finishing. That means someone stepping up consistently, as Jacob Buttermore did against Ridley, with goals. When leading goalscorer Christian Portale takes one shot against Ridley (it went in, but still), that’s indicative of a need for more killer instinct so the offensive burden doesn’t fall completely on uber-talented freshman midfielder Matt Moore.
6. Ridley (13-4) Last Week: No. 5
The Green Raiders’ stumble against Garnet Valley is their only setback in nine games. The offense is starting to hum with Brock Anderson and Lou Harrison pulling the strings, and they have one of the stingiest defense in the county backed by a goaltender in Dawson Faust who is constantly improving. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Green Raiders made some postseason noise.
7. Episcopal Academy (6-12) Last Week: No. 4
I can’t say that I feel great about dropping the Churchmen this far. They are talented and have played a prohibitively tougher schedule than anyone else in front of them save Haverford School. But consider this: Since April 10, the five teams immediately in front of the Churchmen have six combined losses (all but one of them dealt by a fellow Super 7 team). In that same time frame, EA has six losses. Much of this placement is not just about absolute skill but also a team playing as well as it can, coming as close as possible to its optimal performance. I think the ceiling for EA is higher, and it hasn’t necessarily been met.