Commentary

2012 Girls' East Region Preview

Updated: February 28, 2012, 9:50 AM ET
By Tom Peace | ESPNHS.com

Jenny Thompson, Londonderry Courtesy Thompson Family/ESPNHSJenny Thompson returns to lead Londonderry (N.H.) after helping the team to a Division I championship last season.
The amount of talent is evident in the East Region and that should translate to many teams finding their way into the POWERADE FAB 50 rankings in 2012.

This region has the developing hotbeds in New Jersey, Massachusetts and Virginia, and states such as Connecticut, Delaware and New Hampshire have teams that all appeared in the rankings last year.

St. Stephen's & St. Agnes should be a Top 3 POWERADE FAB 50 team to start the season. Expect Moorestown to once again be a force in New Jersey after not winning a title for the past two seasons. New Jersey had several teams in the FAB 50 last year; Mendham, Glen Ridge, Ridgewood along with Moorestown should see time in the rankings again in 2012.

The Starting Lineup

G: Kelsey Duryea, Sr., Governor's Academy (Beverly, Mass.), Duke
D: Shelby Aubin, Sr., Needham (Mass.), Georgetown
D: Anne Farnham, Sr., Andover (Mass.), Massachusetts
D: Kendall Speno, Sr., Summit (N.J.), Virginia
D: Tory Waldstein, Sr., Needham (Mass.), undecided
M: Madison Acton, Sr., Lincoln-Sudbury (Sudbury, Mass.), Duke
M: Claire Scarrone, Sr., Rumson-Fair Haven (Rumson, N.J.), Duke
M: Emily Tropsa, Sr., Darien (Conn.), Gettysburg
A: Caroline Cordrey, Sr., Summit (N.J.), USC
A: Aly Messinger, Sr. Mendham (N.J.), North Carolina
A: Carly Reed, Jr., St. Stephen's & St. Agnes (Alexandria, Va.), North Carolina
A: Kelci Smesko, Sr., Ridgewood (N.J.), Duke

Sizing Up The Region

Connecticut: Darien (Conn.) is the defending Class M champ. It enters the 2012 season without losing much from last year's team. Darien returns nine starters from last season's squad and 18 from the 2011 roster. The Blue Wave had three freshman start on midfield last year: Dillion Schoen, Hollis Perticone and Emily Stein (Northwestern), who totaled 38 goals and 18 assists last season. ESPNHS Top 50 junior attacker Taylor Hardison and ESPNHS 100 top defensive midfielder Emily Tropsa (Gettysburg) lead the way in 2012. Fairfield Ludlowe (Fairfield, Conn.) went 12-7 last year and return attacker Sarah Nesi (Brown) who will be instrumental in a Falcon run in Class M. Greenwich (Conn.) returns Division I commits Tori Dunster (High Point), Claire Feeney (Winthrop) and Emily Johnson (Denver) from a team that finished 15-5 and won the Class L state championship. Loomis Chaffee (Windsor, Conn.) returns five starters, including 2012 Division I commits Devin Markison (UNC) and Dianne Vitkus (Brown). New Canaan (Conn.) went 13-8 in 2011 and returns a high powered offense in 2012 with Sarah Mannelly (Boston College) and Olivia Hompe (Princeton,) both ranked in the ESPNHS 100. The main question with New Canaan is will they have a formidable defense to play in front of goaltender and ESPNHS Top 50 Junior Liz O'Sullivan (Stanford). Staples (Conn.) had a breakout season in 2011 led by senior and ESPNHS Top 25 midfielder Maeve Flaherty (Brown). Someone to watch for Staples is junior Ryan Kirshner (Colgate). Wilton (Conn.) returns junior talent Megan Boepple (Loyola), Casey Pearsall (Notre Dame) and Tegan Helms (Columbia) from a team that finished 18-3 last season. Wilton will have its third head coach in three seasons with the arrival of Meredith Adamicki Meyran to the sideline.

Delaware: Since PJ Kesmodel (250 career wins) took over Cape Henlopen (Lewes, Del.), the Vikings have won three-consecutive Delaware state championships. The Vikings return 10 of 15 starters from last year and will be led by UMBC junior commit Anna Frederick who made first team all-state as a sophomore after scoring 49 goals and adding 13 assists. Junior middie Sara Young (Penn) had an impressive sophomore season, scoring 37 goals and 10 assists.

District of Columbia: Georgetown Visitation (Washington, D.C.) has six players already committed to Division I programs, led by seniors Gen Giblin (St. Joseph's), Mary Grace Mooney (Bucknell) and Margaret Tonner (St. Joseph's). Defense should be strong with Giblin returning in goal and Tonner returning on defense. The offense will be led by Mooney along with juniors Tess McEvoy (Yale) and Caroline Smith (Stanford). The Tigers will once again boast a tough schedule with expected FAB 50 teams Good Counsel (Olney, Md.), Loyola Academy (Wilmette, Ill.) and St. Stephen's & St. Agnes (Alexandria, Va.).

Massachusetts: Andover (Mass.) boasts an impressive offense with Ally Fazio (UConn) and the Farnham twins, Anne and Kate, who are headed to the University of Massachusetts. Both girls were recognized in the ESPNHS 100 top defenders list. Senior Laura Lilley (Union) and junior attacker Meagan Jane Keefe (UMASS) will be two girls to watch this season. Lincoln-Sudbury (Sudbury, Mass.) is led by senior Madison Acton (Duke) who is a MIAA Girls Lacrosse All-state team member and made the ESPNHS 100. Acton totaled 105 points (68 goals and 37 assists) last season and helped lead the Warriors to the Division I Eastern Massachusetts finals. Longmeadow (Mass.) went 19-4-1 last season in a conference that includes some very tough competition in Andover, Westwood, Needham, and Lincoln-Sudbury. The Lancers made it to the state finals a year ago, but will be young this season with only five returning starters. Seniors Jenna Fisher, Elieen McDonald, Kit Rosen and Paige Smith (Union) will provide strong leadership to a young roster. Needham (Mass.) is one of the top teams in Massachusetts and will be tough to beat in 2012. Needham has two ESPNHS 100 athletes in Tory Waldstein and Shelby Aubin (Georgetown). Waldstein is the No. 4 defensive midfielder and Aubin is the No. 3 defender. The Rockets went 21-3 in 2011. Westwood (Mass.) is the defending D-I state champions and finished No. 50 in the ESPNHS FAB 50 in 2011. Westwood is a program that reloads rather than rebuilds and this season is no different. Though ESPNBoston.com's Miss Lacrosse Sarah Biron (Johns Hopkins) graduated, the Wolverines went 25-0-1 last season and defeated every team on the schedule by 13 or more points. Returning in 2012 are two All-Americans and All-State team members in Laura McHoul (New Hampshire) and Kate Rich (Boston College). Mchoul totaled 172 points (86 goals, 86 assists) and Rich totaled 128 points on 93 goals and 35 assists. Senior goalie Mollie Brown (Plymouth State) should be a factor for the Wolverines in the cage.

New Hampshire: Londonderry (Londonderry, N.H.) have won the last three Division I state championships and return eight starters from last year's team. Jenny Thompson, the New Hampshire Union Leader's girls' lacrosse Player of the Year and Boston University commit, returns to the midfield.

New Jersey: Glen Ridge (Glen Ridge, N.J.) finished last season at No. 49 in the POWERADE FAB 50 and won the Group 1 state championship. The Ridgers return 10 starters from that team, including three players who are committed to Division I programs: Mary Alati (Virginia) Danielle Lisovicz (Dartmouth) and Maggie Moriarty (Yale). Mendham (N.J.) returns 10 starters from last year's team. North Carolina commit Aly Messinger returns at attack after scoring 67 goals last season. Overall, six players on Mendham's roster have committed to Division I programs. Moorestown (Moorestown, N.J.) returns 11 starters from last year's state runners-up, including ESPNHS 100 midfielder Stephanie Toy. Eight players on the Quakers team have made commitments to Division I colleges. With a schedule that includes St. Paul's (Brooklandville, Md.) along with defending the Tournament of Champions winner Ridgewood (Ridgewood, N.J.), the Quakers will once again have a tough national schedule. Ridgewood N.J.) has won the past two Tournament of Champions titles and returns six starters. The defense should be strong this season with a midfield and defense that boasts four Division I commitments, including senior Kelci Smesko (Duke) who is the No. 10 player in the ESPNHS 100.

Vermont: Mount Anthony Union (Bennington, Vt.) head coach Thomas Otero has a career record of 114-69 and one state championship. The Patriots went 9-7 last spring and return eight starters. Mounty Anthony Union returns the entire starting low defense and goalie Shelby Wicks (Becker College). Last year's leading scorer Paige Leveque (Stetson University) leads the offense. Other notable players are senior defender Cassidy Lang, juniors Colleen Hendry and Lily Taub and sophomore Emily Cross.

Virginia: Bishop Ireton (Alexandria, Va.) returns nine starters from a season in which they lost six games by four goals or less. Three players are Division I commits: Eva Irwin (Monmouth), Margaret Nealon (Vermont) and Maddie Zeigler (William & Mary). The Cardinals boast a tough schedule this season with three defending state champions: Milton (Ga.), St Anne's Belfield (Va.) and St. Stephen's & St. Agnes (Va.). Collegiate (Richmond, Va.) boasts an impressive roster with six starters and 14 players returning from last year's 18-8 team. Senior middie Austin Pruitt (Notre Dame) and ESPNHS Top 25 defensive midfielder Carter Reifsnider (James Madison) provide star power. The Cougars' schedule pits them against rival St. Stephen's & St. Agnes in addition to IAAM powerhouse Roland Park Country (Baltimore, Md.) and Bishop Ireton. G.C. Marshall (Falls Church, Va.) returns the entire 2011 line-up this year starting with ESPNHS Top 2012 defensive midfielder Rachel Waldron (Coastal Carolina). In the last three seasons, Waldron has set the all-time school record for points (170), goals (130) and assists (40). Senior goalie Meredith Crizer (William & Mary), junior Jessica Taylor and sophomore Kelly Brown will ensure teams cannot focus solely on Waldron. Godwin (Richmond, Va.) went 9-2 last season and returns seven starters and 12 players overall. The Eagles have strong leadership with senior attacker Melissa Gerndt, defender Sam Puglisi, goalie Hannah Slough (Christopher Newport University), and junior defender Olivia Hassell. James Madison (Vienna, Va.) went 21-0 and won the state championship last season and return nine starters. Seniors Savannah Bentley (American University) and Megan Bisson (George Mason University) will lead a fairly young team. Junior goalie Taylor Rivera-Silva leads the way of a talented group of underclassmen that includes sophomores Sam Babbit, Julia Kehoe and Katie Kerrigan. St. Stephen's & St. Agnes (Alexandria, Va.) plays one of the strongest schedules in the nation this season. The Saints play the defending state champions from Florida, Georgia and Pennsylvania in addition to last year's No. 6 POWERADE FAB 50 team, Good Counsel (Olney, Md.). The Saints are up to the task with 15 players already committed to Division I lacrosse programs, including two ESPNHS 100 seniors and three Top 50 Juniors. No. 1 Defensive-Midfielder Paige Patterson (UNC) leads a senior class that has seven future D-I players and a defense that allowed double-digits in goals in just four games last year. The Saints played a total of 33 games last season. Possibly the only thing that can outshine the Saints' senior class is its junior class, which boasts eight players aleady committed to D-I programs. No. 2 junior Carly Reed (UNC) is already the program's all-time leading scorer with 237 career goals -- four more than the previous record of 233 by Kelly Austin. Western Albemarle (Crozet, Va.) returns seven starters from their 17-3 team last season. Defense will be strong with five defenders returning.

Underclassemen To Watch

(Position: athlete, year, high school (State), college commitment)

Goalie: Sarah Ford, Jr., Londonderry (N.H.); Olivia Cole, Soph., Bishop Ireton (Va.); Gussie Johns, Soph., St. Stephen's & St. Agnes (Va.); Liz O'Sullivan, Jr., New Canaan (Conn.), Stanford; Taylor Rivera-Silva, Jr., James Madison (Va.).

Attack: Stephanie Carr, Jr., Pingry School (N.J.), Harvard; Besser Dyson, Jr., St. Stephen's & St. Agnes (Va.), Virginia; Taylor Hardison, Jr., Darien (Conn.); Olivia Hompe, New Canaan (Conn.), Princeton; Meagan Jane Keefe, Jr., Andover (Mass.), UMass; Nicole Kopyta, Jr., Indian Hills (N.J.), Rutgers; Kaitlin Murphy, Jr., Londonderry (N.H.); Caroline Thiele, Glen Ridge (N.J.); Julia Wasserman, Jr., Londonderry (N.H.).

Midfield: Heidi Annaheim, Jr., Kinnelon (N.J.), Notre Dame; Alexa Bedell, Soph., Londonderry (N.H.); Maggie Carver, Jr., Ridgewood (N.J.); Kendall Cunningham, Soph., Bishop Ireton (Va.); Jillian Doherty, Jr., Brooks School (Mass.), Vanderbilt; Tegan Helms, Jr., Wilton (Conn.), Columbia; Megan Kelly, Jr., Moorestown (N.J.), Pennsylvania; Casey Pearsall, Jr., Wilton (Conn.), Notre Dame.

Defense: Margaret Tucker Fogarty, Jr., St. Stephen's & St. Agnes (Va.), James Madison; Meghan Moloney, Jr., St. Stephen's & St. Agnes (Va.); Wyatt Whitley, Jr., St. Stephen's & St. Agnes (Va.), Virginia; Molly Winchell, Glen Ridge (N.J.).

Defensive Midfield: Mikaela Bradley, Jr., Ridgewood (N.J.), Bates; Natasha Dombrowski, Glen Ridge (N.J.); Lauren Munhall, Jr., Ridgewood (N.J.), Connecticut College.

Games To Watch

April 5: Mendham (N.J.) at Good Counsel (Md.)
April 13: Loyola Academy (Ill.) at Bishop Ireton (Va.)
April 14: Good Counsel (Md.) at St. Stephen's & St. Agnes (Va.)
April 27: Milton (Ga.) at St. Stephen's & St. Agnes (Va.)
April 28: St. Stephen's & St. Agnes (Va.) vs. Garnet Valley (Pa.)
April 28: St. Paul's (Md.) at Moorestown (N.J.)

How This Region Affects The FAB 50

The term Beasts of the East aptly applies to girls' lacrosse. Even without discussing Maryland and New York, the East Region boasts some of the most powerhouse programs in the nation. Each state competes on a national level and top teams dominate in-state competition.

With inter-state games pitting teams from the east against Maryland, New York and Pennsylvania along with Florida, Georgia and Illinois this region will have the most impact on the voters in 2012.