Ranking the top boys lacrosse teams in the nation used to be as simple as taking a drive along the I-95 corridor in the upper half of the East Coast: start out in Baltimore, make some stops in Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York before winding things up in Connecticut.
No more. The growth of the game has changed all that.
Now there are players – and teams – worthy of national recognition from sea to shining sea. Make no mistake, though. Most of the top players and teams are still in the traditional lacrosse hotbeds — but not all.
Our initial Xcellent 20 features a team from as far south as Florida and teams from as far west as California, Colorado and Texas.
Leading the way is a pair of teams – Haverford and Darien – that have a combined 28 college committed players. The teams will be meeting Saturday in the Checking for Cancer Classic in Hanover, Pa. Conestoga, Calvert Hall and Salisbury round out the Top 5.
The Long Island section of New York is well represented in our first national rankings, taking four spots among the Top 10 and five among the first 11
MAXPREPS XCELLENT 20 NATIONAL BOYS LACROSSE RANKINGS1. Haverford School (Pa.), 8-0:
The Fords have won the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association championship four times in the last five years, including the last two. This year's team may be its best during that span. Haverford's long list of college-committed players features talent aplenty at all positions, including Virginia-bound attackman/midfielder Carl Walrath
, Maryland-bound defenseman Goran Murray
and Notre Dame-bound goaltender Connor Kelly
. After starting the season with a one-goal win over St. Paul's (Md.), the Fords have managed to win two other nailbiters – 12-10 against McDonogh (Md.) and 9-8 in overtime vs. St. Joseph's Prep (Pa.).2. Darien (Conn.), 2-0:
The Blue Wave, who have won six straight state Class M state titles, may have the nation's top junior in Duke-bound attackman Case Matheis
. The defense is headed up by University of Maryland recruit Eric Parnon
. Darien rolled past another top Connecticut team, Greenwich, 13-6 on Saturday.3. Conestoga (Berwyn, Pa.), 6-0:
An early-season, 11-9 win over Maryland power Boys Latin has highlighted the Pioneers' strong start. Like Haverford and Darien, Conestoga has 14 college-committed players.4. Calvert Hall (Baltimore), 8-0:
A potent attack is led by North Carolina commit Patrick Kelly
and two other D-I recruits, Carter Brown
(Ohio State) and Ryan Brown
(Johns Hopkins).5. Salisbury School (Conn.), 1-0:
The Crimson Knights opened the season with a 12-5 win against a strong Berkshire team. Senior attackman David Solomon
, who transferred from St. Stephens & St. Agnes in Virginia, may be the nation's best overall player.6. Chaminade (Mineola, N.Y.), 5-0:
An impressive 10-5 win over CHSAA rival St. Anthony's has highlighted the Flyers' fast start, which has seen Notre Dame-bound attackman Matthew Kavanagh
enjoy some huge games. 7. Ward Melville (East Setauket, N.Y.), 4-0:
A 10-7 victory over a highly regarded Garden City team has the Patriots confident they can supplant perennial state champ West Islip as Suffolk County Class A champions. Seniors Zach Zanone
, Scott Sanders
, James Cashin
and Brian Droesch
have anchored what has been a stingy defense.8. Deerfield Academy (Mass.), 3-0:
You'd be hard-pressed to find an attack trio more explosive than the Big Green's, which features senior Jimmy Bitter
(North Carolina) and juniors Sean Connors
(Princeton) and Ian Ardrey
.9. Sachem North (Lake Ronkonkoma, N.Y.), 5-0:
The lone team to beat West Islip last season, the Flaming Arrows have scored 14 or more goals in each of their first five games.10. Manhasset (N.Y.), 3-0:
The Indians haven't skipped a beat in one area that was key during their run of back-to-back state titles – faceoffs. Johns Hopkins-bound midfielder Ryan Matthews
has taken over those duties for the graduated Ricky Buhr (Syracuse). 11. St. Anthony's (Melville, N.Y.), 3-1:
The Friars will likely have two more chances (once in the regular season, once in the CHSAA playoffs) to avenge for their loss to rival Chaminade.12. McDonogh (Owings Mills, Md.), 8-1:
A 12-10 setback to top-ranked Haverford (Pa.) is the Eagles' only loss.13. Regis Jesuit (Aurora, Colo.), 10-0:
A 7-6 overtime win against Brophy Prep has highlighted the Raiders' first half of the season.14. Jamesville-DeWitt (DeWitt, N.Y.), 3-0:
The Red Rams are in pursuit of a third state title in the last five years.15. Delbarton (Morristown, N.J.), 3-1:
Coming off an uncharacteristic 9-8 season, the Green Wave are much improved, bolstered by eight Division I recruits.16. St. Paul's (Brooklandville, Md.), 7-3:
The Crusaders have played arguably the toughest schedule so far in the nation with their most recent signature win being a 7-5 victory at Garden City, led by the play of goaltender Gunnar Waldt
.17. St. Andrew's (Boca Raton, Fla.), 11-1:
Aside from a loss to Boys Latin, the Scots have been just perfect, with their resume including a big win over Brunswick (Conn.).18. St. Mark's (Dallas), 14-0:
True, the Lions' schedule is not as stacked as most of the others on this list, but it says here St. Mark's would do just fine if it were.19. Garden City (N.Y.), 4-2:
The defense of D-I commits Stephen Jahelka
, Brian Fischer
and J.P. Burnside
has been solid, but Garden City's offense needs to be more consistent.20. Coronado (Calif.), 7-1:
A 7-6 overtime loss to Torrey Pines is the Islanders' only loss.Joe Lombardi writes the "Lax with Joe" blog at LaxLessons.com and is an analyst for the MSG Varsity Television Network. He is also the primary author of the new edition of "Lacrosse for Dummies," which was released last year. He may be reached at email@example.com.