Boys lacrosse eyeing state repeat

Nationally ranked Trevians hope to topple Loyola again to capture state

New Trier Boys Lacrosse won the State Championship in 2017 and judging by their current record, it will take a valiant effort by an opponent to change that this year with the IHSA state playoffs beginning May 18.

The 15-3 (at the time of this writing) Trevians are undefeated in state, with their only defeats coming at the hands of Culver Military Academy (the number one team in the country) twice and St. Xavier, a team from Cincinnati who they took down in a rematch later in the year.

“[The second St. Xavier matchup] was a game we were really excited to play,” said senior Wilson MacRitchie, “because we felt we didn’t have our best game the first time around against them, and were looking for some revenge.”

The tough out of state schedule approach has paid off many times before, with New Trier winning not only last season’s title but with rings in both 2015 and 2014 as well. Before that, they had an incredible run of seven consecutive championships from 2005-2011.

“We play a really challenging schedule so we are prepared to play at a high level, but in the end we need to play our best here on out to continue to advance in the playoffs,” said head coach Tom Herrala.

Despite the three losses, the Trevians remain a juggernaut according to multiple national high school rankings. They come in at fourth in the Midwest in the US Inside Lacrosse poll and second in the US Lacrosse Magazine poll.

“The pressure is definitely there, but we try not to think about it,” said junior midfielder and first team all-conference selection Brian Sitzer. “As long as we put in the work and stay focused, we know that we’re on track to repeat.”

Sitzer is one of five such players on New Trier, including attackman Henry Scherb (who Herrala noted is their leading scorer), midfielder Johnny Mayday, defenseman Nate Carlton, and long stick middie Tommy Defelice.

MacRitchie didn’t think that New Trier had any extra internal pressure put on them to win as the defending champions, but in reality the pressure comes from their opponents, who all have New Trier circled on their calendars.

“Because of this, we have to respect every opponent, and play a great game, our game, against every opponent. We still have the same end goal as last year, to win state,” he said.

New Trier is dominating the vast majority of its competition despite star attackers Collin Kroll and Nelson Gaechter graduating after the 2017 state title.

Gaechter was an especially huge loss, as he finished his New Trier career with the all-time lead in career assists for Trevian Lacrosse. He also ranks top ten in assists in a season, career points, points in a season, and goals in both career and in a single season.

For a lot of New Trier teams, if Loyola Academy is on the schedule, it’s the number one game on everybody’s mind.

For a powerhouse like the Lacrosse team, it’s still important, but doesn’t mean quite as much as it would to others, although you would think the opposite considering Loyola ended their dreams of a 2016 championship in the title game.

“It’s a great win and obviously everyone was really excited about it,” said junior midfielder Carson Ochsenhirt. “But all it is a regular season game. And just because we beat Loyola in the regular season, it doesn’t mean they will give up. We need to use this as motivation and to work harder to prepare for them and any other team in our way of winning a state championship.”

Coach Herrala emphasized the team’s message – the only goal is to repeat – best when he said “It’s always nice to beat Loyola but the last game of the year is the most important one.”

Sitzer agreed to a quite literal extent, repeating Herrala’s exact words on the subject. “It’s always nice beating Loyola in any sport,” he said. “But that was just a regular season game. The only game that matters in the end is [the state championship], and that’s the game we’re focused on.”

The Trevians know, however, that to win the state championship they’re almost certainly going to have to face the Ramblers once again.

In the past, per MacRitchie, the regular season winner of NT vs. Loyola has lost the playoff game, meaning New Trier will have to “break the curse.”

“To do that, we know we are going to have to outwork them, and come into the playoffs wanting it more than them,” said MacRitchie. “That is what will be the difference between this season and past seasons.”