The digits in the loss column were a little higher than usual for the Regis Jesuit boys lacrosse team in 2012, but in the end, the Raiders were again right in the thick of the state championship chase.
A huge group of players from the Regis Jesuit team that made it to the state semifinals and pushed Cherry Creek to the brink make up the lion’s share of the 2012 Aurora Sentinel All-City Boys Lacrosse Team, which is selected by the Sentinel in conjunction with balloting of city coaches.
Heavy losses to graduation from a team that won the 2011 state championship didn’t dampen the optimism for coach Jim Soran’s Raiders, who had returning talent in key places and emerging talent in others.
Regis Jesuit — which finished 14-6 overall — was strong on the attack, with the tandem of seniors Ryan Ball and Logan Stelzner proving unstoppable at times. Working well in concert with the other, the powerful Ball — the MVP of last season’s state championship game and a two-time All-City selection — finished with a team-high 46 goals, while Stelzner led the way with 34 assists to go with 24 goals.
Senior Kevin Greenberg was again part of a strong midfield offensively with 15 goals and 12 assists as he prepared to head to Sacred Heart, Colorado School of Mines-bound senior Drake Thenell added a solid defensive presence and junior Brian Wegner — a University of Denver recruit — flourished in a new role as long stick midfielder.
Senior Matt Hess, a future Colorado College player, continued to give Regis Jesuit the advantage on most teams in faceoffs.
Defense was again a Regis Jesuit calling card, with All-American Tanner Scales in control of the backline. The Virginia-bound standout had strength all around him, especially in senior Luke Leathers. The strong defensive presence complimented the transition to a new goalie in Nick Willenbrock, who was outstanding as he filled big shoes left by the graduation of Rhody Heller.
Cherokee Trail made the playoffs for the second straight season with a talented core, which was bolstered by senior midfielder Gage Snowbarger. With size, toughness and plenty of fire, Snowbarger — who will attend Virginia Military Institute — was the Cougars’ goal-scoring leader.
Smoky Hill’s first playoff qualification since 2008 was keyed by strong talent in a variety of spots. Up top, senior attackman Hunter Gillespie played a primary role, making first team All-Centennial League after piling up an Aurora-best 58 goals to go with 12 assists. He is an All-City first team selection for the second straight season.
Junior defender Austin Rutledge was a second team all-league selection and part of a physical presence in front of the net for the Buffaloes, who allowed nearly 50 goals fewer than in the previous season, even with playing an extra game.
Reach Sports Editor Courtney Oakes at email@example.com or 303-750-7555
2012 AURORA SENTINEL ALL-CITY BOYS LACROSSE TEAM
FIRST TEAM — Attack: Ryan Ball, Regis Jesuit, sr.; Hunter Gillespie, Smoky Hill, sr.; Logan Stelzner, Regis Jesuit, sr.; Midfield: Kevin Greenberg, Regis Jesuit, sr.; Gage Snowbarger, Cherokee Trail, sr.; Brian Wegner, Regis Jesuit, jr. (LSM); Defense: Luke Leathers, Regis Jesuit, sr.; Austin Rutledge, Smoky Hill, jr.; Tanner Scales, Regis Jesuit, sr.; Goalie: Nick Willenbrock, Regis Jesuit, sr.; Defensive midfielder: Drake Thenell, Regis Jesuit, sr.; Faceoff midfielder: Matt Hess, Regis Jesuit, sr.
SECOND TEAM — Attack: Garrett Beebe, Eaglecrest, sr.; Blake Knobloch, Regis Jesuit, jr.; Blake Spencer, Smoky Hill, jr.; Midfield: Ugo Chukwuka, Overland, soph.; Dylan Duresky, Cherokee Trail, sr.; Sterling Huff, Cherokee Trail, jr.; Sean Offner, Regis Jesuit, sr.; Defense: Reese Duin, Smoky Hill, sr.; Henry Hood, Grandview, jr.; Robert Orban, Regis Jesuit, jr.; Goalie: Kolby Spring, Gateway, soph.; Defensive midfielder: Brandon Read, Rangeview, jr.; Faceoff midfielder: Cody Olson, Grandview, sr.
HONORABLE MENTION: Cameron Bruckman, Cherokee Trail, sr.; Vincent Cardella, Smoky Hill, sr.; Kelechi Chukwuka, Overland, jr.; Michael Davis, Gateway, sr.; Jonathan Docherty, Eaglecrest, jr.; Ryan Dodd, Overland, jr.; KT Himmelberg, Cherokee Trail, sr.; Do Jones, Regis Jesuit, sr.; Clint Larson, Cherokee Trail, jr.; Cameron MacDonald, Regis Jesuit, sr.; Aiden McIntosh, Eaglecrest, jr.; Ryan Paglioni, Grandview, jr.; Joey Tuggle, Smoky Hill, sr.