by Dane Neumeister, firstname.lastname@example.org / Photo by Scott Springer
Moeller High School varsity boys' lacrosse head coach Sean McGinnis will be starting his fourth season next spring as the Crusaders leader. In just a bit longer time involved with Team Ohio (six seasons as head coach), the Moeller leader of the local group of high school all-stars has developed a friendly rivalry in the summer with a team from out of state - the Long Island state team, with players set to graduate in 2017 and 2018.
McGinnis and his team of rising juniors and seniors recently completed play in the Brine National Lacrosse Classic, which was held July 19-22 in Midlothian, Virginia. This is the ninth year of the tournament, and McGinnis has been at the helm of a team for the summer's tournament for the past six years.
The Brine Classic is played on 12 turf fields and features guest speakers who relay information to the coaches and players regarding lacrosse, fitness, and other topics related to the sport. The Classic, which also runs a girls' division, too, featured four boys' Ohio teams (with teams of players related to graduating classes in 2017/2018, 2019, 2020/2021 and 2022/2023. The 2020-2021 team, coached by James Rice, recorded a 5-2 overall mark during this past week's tournament, losing in the championship game, 8-6 to Long Island.
High school and middle school players in Southwest Ohio, and particularly the Cincinnati area, were well-represented at the Brine Classic. McGinnis, in fact, had 10 players from the Cincinnati area, including four players from Moeller High School. They were: Conner Rice, Paxton Kreger, Lucas Klever, and Conor McGeeney. Drew Grafflin attends Loveland High School and is also on the team. Rice is an attacker while Klever and McGeeney play midfield. Kreger was one of two goalies on the team. Grafflin is a long stick midfielder/defenseman.
Other local players, out of the 24 on this summer's 2017/2018 team, were: Andrew Ellis (Kings, defender), Benjamin Sabelhaus (Lakota East, goalie), Nick Edkins (Lakota East, midfielder), Jack Streicher (Elder, midfield) and Garrett Nemitz, (Springboro, defenseman). McGinnis was assisted on the coaching sideline by two coaches out of Columbus, Ohio.
McGinnis' Team Ohio finished 2-0-2 in pool play, and qualified to the winners' bracket. Team Ohio recorded ties against Rochester and New Jersey on the first day of action (July 20), defeated Colorado, 11-5 on July 21 and suffered a 6-5 setback to Virginia on July 21. They moved on to take on Long Island in a first game of the winners' bracket, dropping a hotly-contested match by a 4-3.
The lost to Long Island was a rematch of sorts for Team Ohio, who last summer knocked off the same team from the east, 7-0 to win the National Championship at the Brine Classic.
"Having the experience of playing them last year helped us this time,'' McGinnis said. "We talked to the kids about coming together as a team quickly and tried to explain to them about the competition level."
McGinnis had only three players back from that 2015 summer team, and was pleased with how his team came together and played this time, with very little time to practice. The team selection process began in December of last year, and after 25-30 boys were picked from three different Ohio regions, the team was finalized in June, and had only two practices before the tournament. There were 15 teams in all that played from various states in the 2017/2018 division.
"We played some good teams in the tournament, particularly Rochester and Florida,'' McGinnis added. "We just ran out of time at the end against Long Island. We had some chances and the game went back-and-forth a lot in the last two minutes.
"As the defending champion you have a bull's eye on your back. We beat them last year and they got us this year."
McGinnis said the Brine Lacrosse Classic is very well-run event, which features the likes of college coaches from every level. Those coaches are there to watch players and recruit during the off-season. McGinnis stated that speakers and games were on the daily schedule from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. each day and there were plenty of talented players, both male and female, that competed.
The team's head coach added that the talent level in Southwest Ohio has grown every year. He stated that there are five former Cincinnati-area high school players that are currently on Division I college teams.
"The talent in southwest Oho is getting better every year due to things like having a tournament like this (the Brine Classic) to play in,'" McGinnis said. [Read More]