Harrison defense dominating as it enters postseason
by Adam Carrington
May 05, 2014 04:00 AM | 1948 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Harrison lacrosse, from left, Zach Damneman, Mitchell Barnes, Tyler Buehler and Lucas Wittenberg, and back from left, Michael Fahsel, Austin Gomez, Brandon Galgon, Bryan Ruff and Seth Cowan, enter the postseason 16-1 and will host Lassiter in the opening round on Tuesday.
Harrison lacrosse, from left, Zach Damneman, Mitchell Barnes, Tyler Buehler and Lucas Wittenberg, and back from left, Michael Fahsel, Austin Gomez, Brandon Galgon, Bryan Ruff and Seth Cowan, enter the postseason 16-1 and will host Lassiter in the opening round on Tuesday.
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Harrison coach Jeff Meese said the team that plays the best defense in the playoffs will be the one that wins the state championship.

The Hoyas’ defense is stubborn enough to put Harrison in contention for its first state lacrosse title when the Class AAAAAA state tournament gets under way Tuesday and Wednesday.

The Hoyas (16-1) only gave up double digit goals twice this season – the first coming in a double-overtime win over Etowah to open the season and the second came in its only loss of the season to Centennial.

“Our strength lies in the back,” Meese said. “We have multiple people who can carry the load.”

Offensively, Harrison has racked up double-figure goals in every game this season, and different players — most notably Zach Danneman and Lucas Wittenberg — can score in bunches in any given game. Having experienced depth up front makes it difficult for opposing teams to defend.

Harrison will face Lassiter in the first round Tuesday at Bruce Cobleigh Stadium. Although Lassiter is younger and more inexperienced than usual, the Trojans ended the year winning three of their last four games.

Lassiter is also the healthiest it’s been all season with attacker Connor Bell and midfielder Ryker Martin near 100 percent after missing most of the season with foot injuries.

Although Lassiter (9-8) has matured since the beginning of the season, the Trojans will likely have to keep errant plays to a minimum if they are to upset the Area 1AAAAAA champion on the road.

“I like the idea of first round matches becoming difficult,” Lassiter coach Brendan Leezer said. “Truth is, you have to play good opponents to get to the big dance. There will be no easy games. I like matching up with Harrison because both of us have solid defenses and both teams are solid in transition.”

Lassiter facing Harrison won’t be the only first round matchup among Cobb County teams in AAAAAA. Hillgrove, the No. 2 seed in 1AAAAAA. Kennesaw Mountain also qualified for the state tournament as the No. 4 seed out of 1AAAAAA and will play at 2AAAAAA champ Milton.

Allatoona and Pope will also battle for a state championship in Class A-AAAAA. The Buccaneers will host McIntosh and the Greyhounds will play at Holy Innocents on Wednesday.

Walton will be at Hillgrove and the Raiders (13-5) will likely be carried by their defensive play if they should go deep. Led by all-state defender William Holt, the Raiders have averaged 6.6 goals this season and goalkeeper Jake Hornberger has a 62 percent save percentage.

Hillgrove (15-2) has improved on the offensive end down the stretch with Riley Callahan, Ross Mathis and Stephen Galloway doing the bulk of the scoring. The Hawks scored a combined 41 goals in its last three regular season wins over Grayson, North Forsyth and Woodstock.

“(Walton) is a good team,” Hillgrove coach Tarve Riggins said. “I think this will be a good match up for us.”

Pope, which made the state championship round in 2011 and 2012, is going to the playoffs despite ending the regular season on a five-game losing streak. The Greyhounds (7-10) last won March 27 against Sprayberry but going 17 days in April without playing a game didn’t help either.

Coach Carl Pfaff also said that his team is still seeking some consistency and will go cover all the basics today and Tuesday in preparation for its first round match.

“We’re looking to identify the things we’ve done well and concentrate on them and put some of this stuff behind us,” Pfaff said. “What happened before is behind us.”

Allatoona is still seeking its first playoff win against McIntosh after qualifying three years in a row. The Buccaneers (10-5) are going into the playoffs on a roll by ending their season winning five of their last six games.

BOYS LACROSSE FIRST-ROUND STATE PLAYOFF SCHEDULE

Lassiter at harrison

Tuesday 6 p.m.

Kennesaw Mountain at Milton

Tuesday TBD

Walton at Hillgrove

Tuesday 7:30 p.m.

Mcintosh at Allatoona

Wednesday TBD

Pope at Holy Innocents’

Wednesday 4:30 p.m.

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