All-County Lacrosse: Smith, Shiver helped EC boys break out in 2012
By CHRIS GOLTERMANN
Since it began varsity lacrosse in 2008, East Coweta’s lacrosse program had been looking for its breakthrough moment.
The Indians finally got their chance this spring.
Throw in a couple of victories against your closest rival – including a key one in Area 1-AAAAA play – and this spring brought long awaited success to Garland Shoemake Stadium.
Accomplishing those tasks, however, came only after putting together its most complete – and deepest – lineup in school history.
Just take a look at this year’s Newnan Times-Herald All-County team, where nine Indians lead the way. Newnan, which also made a return trip to the state playoffs, had five players honored including talented freshman defender Mike McMahon, this year’s Newcomer of the Year. Northgate, playing one of the state’s toughest schedules, had two players selected.
Topping the list, though, were the two key pieces to East Coweta’s success – its top scorer, senior
Bronson Smith as well as its No. 1 defender, senior Jakob Shiver – who were named Times-Herald Co-Players of the Year. Both players also received First Team All-Area selections from the Fayette County Lacrosse Club.
Every successful team needs a scorer – and in some cases — a sniper. Smith fit the mold impressively in 2012 while setting a new school record with 51 goals that came from all angles on the field. the 6-foot-2, 190-pound senior scored in every game but one, the season-finale at Lassiter where East Coweta found itself outmatched in a 14-1 loss to Lassiter.
In 12 of 18 games, Smith scored at least three times while also adding 12 assist and 74 ground balls at the midfield position. Most of the time, opposing goalies could get an eye, let alone a stick, on the ball.
“He may have the fastest shot in the state,” commented East Coweta coach Ryan Post, who played Smith sparingly in big leads this year. “A few goalies have admitted to not seeing the ball from 15 yards out.”
While Smith roughly averaged one of every four goals the Indians scored in 2012, he was only part of half the success the team had this spring. Defensively, East Coweta had the most talent in the county with three senior defenders, an outstanding junior long-pole middie and a sophomore goalie who’s primed to become one of the state’s best.
Senior defender Jacob Shiver, however, was the cog that kept the pieces together, joining Smith as Co-Players of the Year for East Coweta.
While Smith was responsible for scoring goals, Shiver typically kept his man from finding the net. An Under-Armour All-American selection prior to the season, the 5-11, 170-pound defender showcased his quick feet and superb stick skills, scooping up 34 ground balls and, more importantly, allowing just three goals to opponents he shadowed in his own zone.
The duo weren’t the only major contributors, however. Joining them among Indians on the All-County team were junior midfielders Matt Schlumper and Tyler Sandusky, both repeat selections from 2011. Schlumper traded in his long stick to become the team’s “point guard” of the offense, leading the team with 24 points and adding 14 goals while scoring on 51 percent of his shots.
Sandusky was equally important in the middle of the field, winning 60-percent of his faceoffs and scooping up a team-high 96 ground balls. He added 21 goals and seven assists on offense.
Also at midfield, as well as attack, senior Colin Duncan (5-10) provided balance while posting 17 goals and 19 assists with what Post called “the best ground-ball skills on the team.” Duncan scooped up 48 of them, some as his coach described, “like a magician.”
Not far off Smith’s scoring lead, sophomores Connor McMeen and Bryce Durden each eclipsed the 30-goal mark using unique body frames to their advantage. At 6-2, 195 pounds, McMeen used his power and strength to put together 33 goals and 12 assists, adding 49 ground balls a year after being named as the Times-Herald’s Newcomer of the Year.
The 5-8, 140-pound Durden added 30 goals and six assists while showcasing his potential. “Every goal this season came under pressure after contact within five yards of the crease,” commented Post.
Opposing players, meanwhile, had difficulty at times coming within the same range. In addition to Shiver, senior defender
Kyle Durden (56 ground balls, 2 goals) and long-stick junior middie Jacob Weston (75 ground balls, 2 goals) provided a stout back line.
Post referred to the 6-3, 175 pound Durden as the “most improved long pole from last season,” while the 6-0, 175 pound Weston gave the team a long pole “that can transition and play both ends of the field. He plays it like is was a shorty.”
For the second consecutive season, Newnan’s net was equally in good hands during a 9-9 season. Senior goalie Adam Lanyi was peppered with shots much of the season, stopping 71-percent of those he faced while also earning All-Area First-Team honors with senior teammate Harris Eldridge.
Up front on attack, Eldridge finished with 32 goals and 10 assists while collecting 26 ground balls in his final season. Joining him from Newnan’s front line was senior Kyle Ward, who posted 29 goals and 10 assists despite missing four games this year.
The Cougars’ most valuable player may have been senior midfielder Josh Skinner, who found himself as a No. 1 target of opponents’ top defenders. Skinner managed to lead Newnan with 42 goals and 71 ground balls while adding 12 assists despite losing linemate Weston Yeager to a knee injury midway through the season.
Both Skinner and Yeager will continue on as teammates at Shorter next year.
Despite losing that entire group to graduation, the Cougars will get a boost from the return of defenseman Mike McMahon next year. As a freshman, McMahon was second among county leaders with 92 ground balls while also assisting on a pair of goals this year.
“He was the only freshman to start every game this season,” commented Newnan coach Tom Ohliger.
The leader among ground balls was Northgate junior Jake Smerka — by a landslide. The talented midfielder, who took some of the leadership reins of the Vikings following the graduation of older brother Max, a Berry College freshman player, scooped up a whopping 171 ground balls while also leading Northgate with 28 goals and five assists.
Smerka rivaled East Coweta’s Sandusky as the county’s top faceoff man, winning 61-percent of draws.
“Jake is an unselfish two-way player,” commented Northgate head coach Derek Rials. “He truly dedicated himself at helping the team improve their lacrosse skills throughout the year instead of being the one-man show.”
Northgate’s schedule was the 11th toughest among 37 schools in Class AAAA-A this spring, with the Vikings playing 12 playoff opponents among its 18 games. Senior Anthony Harmond came up big for 12 of his 21 goals in those dozen contests while adding five assists and 52 ground balls for the season.
Rials described Harmond as an “extremely fast attacker with an ability to drive the cage and deflect checks. [He’s] a player with a deep heart who truly cared about his teammates throughout a difficult season.”
2012 Newnan Times-Herald Boys All-County Lacrosse Team
Co-Players of the Year
Mid/Att – Bronson Smith, East Coweta, Sr. ... 51 goals, 12 assists, 74 ground balls
Def – Jakob Shiver, East Coweta, Sr. ... 34 ground balls
All-County Lacrosse Team
Def – Dylan Byrum, East Coweta, Sr. ... 46 GBs
A/M – Colin Duncan, East Coweta, Sr. ...17 G, 19 A, 48 GBs
Att – Bryce Durden, East Coweta, So. ... 30 G, 6 A, 36 GBs
Def – Kyle Durden, East Coweta, Sr. ... 56 GBs, 2 G
Att – Harris Eldridge, Newnan, Sr. ... 32 G, 10 A, 26 GBs
Att – Anthony Harmond, Northgate, Sr. ... 21 G, 5 A, 52 GBs
G – Adam Lanyi, Newnan, Sr. ... 71.0 save percentage
A/M – Connor McMeen, So. ... 33 G, 12 A, 36 GBs
Mid – Tyler Sandusky, East Coweta, Sr. ... 21 G, 7 A, 96 GB, 60 percent faceoffs won
Mid – Matt Schlumper, East Coweta, Jr. ... 14 G, 24 A, 14 GBs, 56 percent shooting
Mid – Josh Skinner, Newnan, Sr. ... 42 G, 12 A, 71 GBs
Mid – Jake Smerka, Northgate, Jr. ... 28 G, 5A, 61 percent faceoffs, 171 GBs
Att – Kyle Ward, Newnan, Sr. ... 29 G, 10 A, 15 GBs
LS/Mid – Jacob Weston, East Coweta, Jr. 75 GBs, 2 G
Newcomer of the Year: D – Mike McMahon, Newnan, Fr. ... 92 GBs, 2 A
Honorable Mention: Newnan – D Gus Wacaser, Sr., M Weston Yeager, Sr., A Bradley Roberts, Sr., D Zach Amaroso, Jr; M Bruce Powell, Sr.; D Kyle Sorrells, Sr.; Northgate – D Cameron Wilson, Jr; D Gage Wozniak, Jr.; East Coweta – G Bryan DeBole, So., D Dylan Byrum, Sr., A Lee Stead, So., M Caleb Dailey, Jr.