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BOYS LACROSSE PREVIEW: Kettle Run, Fauquier and Liberty wage fight for district title

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TIMES STAFF PHOTO/COY FERRELL

Junior Reece Kuhns and the Falcons figure to fight defending champion Kettle Run for the Northwestern District title with Liberty also in the mix.

Perennial powerhouse Kettle Run looks to win its third straight region boys lacrosse title, picking up where the Cougars left off in 2019. 

Fauquier is coming off a region appearance in 2019 and expects to challenge the Cougars for district supremacy.

Liberty also features college-bound talent and has opened 2-0 with a formidable squad.

Cougars have big dreams

Two years after making the Class 4 quarterfinals, the Cougars remain bullish on their chances at making states again. “We want to win a state championship,” said coach Bryan Logan, whose Cougars won the last two region titles in 2018 and 2019.

The Cougars certainly have the talent. They boast a rock solid defense led by seniors Robby Smith, Dalton Odom and junior Garrett Hall. “I love our defense, we’re long, Robby is our leader and he is a big, big man, who can move. Our defense is just our team’s anchor,” said Logan.

Starting as a freshman goalkeeper is a big ask, but Luke Moriarty has seized the role. “Luke is getting better every practice. I’m really proud, really impressed, because he just keeps growing,” Logan said. 

Kettle Run features a star in long stick middie Nick Fasce, who will play next year at Washington College (Md.). Fasce is gritty and hard-working. “He’s not the biggest long stick middie, or the fastest, but he’s just so tenacious. He does not stop,” said Logan. 

The midfield is propelled by seniors Matt Schumacher and Nathan Kim. Both are smart and hard-working with nifty stick skills. The midfield has depth with three lines able to contribute.

Kettle Run’s offense is supplied by attackmen Joey Shull and Charlie Evans, both seniors, along with sophomore Matt Green. 

“Our attack can shoot. Charlie has a rocket, and Joey just has a great feel for the game. Matt has done a great job meshing in with the seniors and he’s looking really confident out there,” Logan said.

Kettle Run opened with a comfortable 24-9 win over Eastern View on May 6, then lost to Handley 12-11 in overtime on Monday.

Logan says the short season will be interesting, forcing the Cougars to rely on the senior veterans. “If we get frustrated or sloppy, that’s where our issues come in. We have a lot of youth, so we need leaders, otherwise those guys will struggle. I’m loving how much our senior leaders are taking the guys under their wing,” Logan said. 

Falcons plan to sprint to victory

Fauquier is coming off of a magical run to the state tournament in 2019 and a 10-6 record.

Speed will be the Falcons’ calling card as they duel Kettle Run for the district title.

“We’re going to be really strong in transition, and more than that, we’re going to be really tough to beat,” said coach J.B. Tippett.

The offensive unit is set to be a force, with the attack led by Shane O’Hara, Reece Kuhns, and Rielan Pura. O’Hara has committed to play at Vassar (N.Y.) College, and Pura at Aurora (Ill.) University. “Our attack package is probably the strongest group I’ve seen in my time here, they’re just deadly,” said Tippett.

The Falcons’ midfield is tough, dynamic and deep. Starters will be juniors Wes Heflin and Wyatt Croson, alongside senior J.T. Diehl. Adding energy are key players Taylor Whorton, Dylan Taylor, Ben Bell, Tyler Cadle, Matthew Fischer, Ethan Roteman, Andrew Ludwig, Brendon O’Hara, Braeden Propheter and Parker Amirato. 

Grady Panagos, Ethan Polster, and John Carneckis will also come in as long-stick midfielders when needed. 

In defense, seniors Ian Napolitano and Nolan McEachin will start alongside Corey Burke.  “Our defense is strong, we’ve been working on the fundamentals and really just want to make things hard for our opponents,” Tippett said.

The starting goalie is Collin Anderson, who earned the spot last year before the pandemic. 

The Falcons have their sights set on making the state tournament.  “We want to lead statistically in the region. Ground balls, goals allowed. If we do that, we can do great things,” Tippett said. 

Fauquier is 1-1 after routing James Monroe 23-6 thanks to five goals by Rieland Pura and four from Shane O’Hara. The Falcons lost to Class 6 power Battlefield 13-3.

The Falcons face Liberty May 12 and Kettle Run on May 20.

“We’re looking forward to playing Liberty and Kettle Run. Those county games always have a little something special to them, and this year they could decide the region,” Tippett said.

Liberty opens 2-0

Liberty may not have the lacrosse pedigree of county rivals Fauquier and Kettle Run, but don’t tell the Eagles that. Coach Michael Gesiotto’s program has seen steady improvement and is ready to make a splash. 

“We have the capability to do something here at Liberty that hasn’t been done before,” said Gesiotto, who has four college-bound talents.

Liberty is riding high after burying Culpeper 17-1 on May 5 and James Monroe 17-3 on May 10. 

Liberty’s midfield features the senior captain duo of Keegan Shipe and Colin Cooper, committed to the University of Mary Washington and St. Vincent College (Pa.), respectively. Filling out the midfield is junior Tyler Dyson. 

Liberty’s attack is led by senior Michael Baldwin, who’ll play at Randolph College. Filling out the attack is senior Trent Harmon and junior Caleb Laskaris. Goal-scoring figures to be Liberty’s strong point, giving them optimism against Kettle Run and Fauquier. 

“The players’ lacrosse aptitude and IQ has been improving because of the dedication to lacrosse at Liberty. The expectation now is to compete, to be competitive in every game we play, against any competition,” Gesiotto said. 

The Eagles have talent in defenders Owen Swain, who’ll play at Pennsylvania Tech, and Bryce Utterback, who’ll play at Davis & Elkins College (W.Va.). Junior Aiden Rollins will also start on defense.

In goal, Liberty will start sophomore Nick Sampollos after junior Brennan Lasher broke his thumb. Sampollos got varsity experience last season in varsity scrimmages. 

“We’re still solid there, but if there was an area we had to work on it would be defense,” said Gesiotto. 

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