Southerns is packed with competitors ready to prove that they're the best in the region. Nobody is safe.
May 8, 2015 by Xavier Stewart in Preview with 6 comments
The 2015 edition of Southerns will be even better than the 2014 version. Admittedly, there is a decrease in geographic diversity with teams like Fernandina Beach not making the trip this year, but there is a serious case to be made this this only makes the level of competition even higher. Every team at the tournament has played one another, many of the lower seeds have upsets against the higher seeds, and, unlike last year, the results of this year look anything but certain.
Carolina Friends Is Back On Track
Carolina Friends is again dominating entering into Southerns. The reigning Southern Regional Champions must be the favorite to repeat again. More than anything, though, CFS is beginning to prove that it’s a program now instead of simply a team.
It didn’t matter that Sol Yanuck and arguably the best 2014 senior class of any team last year graduated. It didn’t matter that the Fighting Quakers long time coach Rim Vilgalys has left the team and has been replaced by Augie Krevenas. It didn’t even matter that this year’s team was led by two sophomores in Liam Searles-Bohs and Dillon Lanier. The season, despite it’s ups and downs, has proven that this team is here to stay. Their dominate result at YULA is more indicative of their season than their early loss at QCTU. Even when their stars go down, CFS has the depth to go toe-to-toe with any of the top programs, as they showed at YULA during pool play when the team had to cope with the loss of Searles-Bohs.
Now Or Never For Lakeside
Top seed Lakeside High School had a very unfortunate 2014 High School Southerns. With a roster of only ten they stumbled through the tournament, falling to third in their pool and then losing in prequarters to Grady. There is one upside to their last final: experience. The team brought no seniors to Southerns last year and now the ten players on that roster have another year of playing experience, and, in some cases, club experience with ATLiens last summer.
Leo Warren, Jacces Perivier, Connor Brownwell, Drew Teachout, and Austin Hegemon headline a group that plays with a lot of confidence and will attempt to capitalize on their number one overall seed for the tournament. Coached by former Chain Lighting player Frederic Perivier, Lakeside has all the tools it needs to challenge Carolina Friends for control of the Southern Region.
Paideia Now Fully Loaded
The one blemish on Lakeside’s record has to be their loss to Padeia in the finals of the Georgia State Championships in April. But this isn’t a reflection of Lakeside choking when it counts, instead this is a testament to the Padeia team that is beginning to round into form at just the right time. This team doesn’t have a lot of club experience in comparison to the other top seeds but it more than makes up for it in poise and history.
Gruel as a program has been winning since before many of their opponents have even been established. That comes with all kinds of pressures and standards, but it also supplies a support group that knows how to win a game. Jack Smith and Daniel Sperling played important roles on the ATLiens this summer and they’ll take that experience with them as they attempt to win another tournament for Gruel.
Year Of The Clam?
Since losing to Carolina Friends in the YULA Invite final, the Carrboro Clams have been on a bit of a win streak. They swept the competition at TYUL Easterns (admittedly without Friends present) and have dominated any team outside of CFS. The team has all the indications that their “Year of the Clam” predictions can still come true, but until they come up victorious against the Quakers, they can’t be the favorite for this tournament. Marcus Rovner and Yuma Kobayashi are the players to watch in this tournament as they carry a team with more expectations than last year.
Can Independence Take Flight?
The team from Thompson Station passes the eye test as a contender in the Southern region. Lots of experience playing elite competition (Rivertown Throwdown 2015) and a team that’s been there before losing the final game against Carolina Friends to come in second at Regionals last year. The 9-8 loss to Blackman in the Tennessee Boys’ state championships along with losses to Neuqua Valley and Holy Family Catholic must give some pause, however. This is a team that is right on the borderline between a semifinals caliber team and a team that loses in prequarters.
East Chapel Hill A Threat To Everyone
East Chapel Hill is either the third or fourth best of the North Carolina open teams but that doesn’t necessarily mean they wont make some noise at this tournament. Outside of losses to Carrboro and Carolina Friends, ECHHS is 7-0 in sanctioned play. With one good showing against any of the top seeds ECHHS could find themselves going deep into the bracket.
The above teams have all either won or gotten to at least the semifinals of major tournaments this year. The teams located here have all lost to one of the teams above and will most likely be scrambling for one of the bottom two spots in bracket play.
Yorktown High school is up and down. Joe Freund and Sean McSweeney highlight a team with elite quality upside, but bringing that talent for a whole tournament against the highest level competition will be difficult. The Patriots should at least hold seed and make it to Sunday.
Apex high school has lost to the teams above them (Carrboro and ECHHS) but have beaten many teams below them in convincing fashion (CHUF and HB). They benefit from having a pool with not a lot of talent in the lower seeds and they should be able to fend off any challenges on Saturday. The tests will most likely come from one of the out of state competitors such as Grady or Yorktown if they fall.
After their victory at the Tennessee State Championships, Blackman high school has to feel comfortable with their seeding. Having beaten Independence when it matters, this team could have a solid chance to do it again and advance to bracket play. If not they have to be a threat to beat every team in this tournament. Having only a 9-7 loss to Holy Family Catholic at Rivertown Throwdown, it might not be that this Blackman team deserves to be a 9 seed, they just might be such an unknown we aren’t sure what team will be in Winston-Salem on Saturday.
Grady High has been in the second tier of teams all season. With losses to Paideia, Lakeside, and Carrboro, it would take an incredibly strong performance this weekend to break make it into bracket play. Regardless, expect Gauntlet to win the games they’re supposed to and possibly break seed by one or two spots.
This year has been one of struggling for Chapel Hill high school. With several losses to Apex, Lakeside, and Carrboro, it’s going to be a struggle for this team to win games. When their stars are clicking and they’re moving the disc however, CHHS can win games. It’s just a question of whether the higher level defenders that will surely be at this tournament can stop Elijah Long and Valeri Kozarev from getting what they want on the field.
Woodside High school had a schedule filled with B teams (both college and high school) and they won when they were supposed to. One of the two teams at this tournament who has beaten Carolina Friends (along with Lakeside), Woodside has an incredibly steep hill to climb to move past Apex and Catholic to take a place in bracket. They’ve had average results since their hot start and it all begins and ends with the performance of Josuel Jimenez. If things are going well for Woodside expect to see Jimenez around the disc often, but if he is shut down things will quickly go south for the Wolverines.
The bottom four seeds should all be favored to stay there at the conclusion of the action on Saturday. Catholic has lost to most of the teams in their immediate area including the team seeded below them: Brookwood Inferno. Brookwood has beaten Catholic but also lost to Paideia, Grady, and Lakeside. HB Woodlawn is a very dangerous bottom seed but their pool is so talented them moving up seems unlikely. Finally NCSSM has lost convincingly to every top team they’ve played, but with few results from out of state expect them to get a few wins in Sunday consolation play.