Blue Devils have extended win streak to 49 straight and remain strong, but other area teams are primed for a run to the top

The 2017 boys lacrosse season is upon as the big question, of course, is can Victor keep winning? 

The Blue Devils haven’t lost a game since the 2014 season, and with a 5-0 start this season, they’re at 49 straight victories as spring break kicks off. Loyola Academy of Chicago and Brother Rice of Michigan are the next two teams to test the Blue Devils and after that, the Blue Devils have games against Pittsford, Fayetteville-Manlius, Webster Thomas and Canandaigua.

Still, not all eyes are on Victor and the streak as this season unfolds. Is this the year a loaded Palmyra-Macedon wins its first Section V title? How is Canandaigua doing under new coach Deven York? And can the Bloomfield/Honeoye Pride keep the momentum from last season rolling into this year? 

Worthy inquiries, all, so let’s take a closer look at the area teams and what they’ve got to work with for this season.

Bloomfield/Honeoye

Coach: Brandon Trombley, third season.

Last year: 7-10, lost to Bath in Section V Class C, first round.

League: Finger Lakes.

Outlook: With seven wins last spring, the Pride had their most successful season in terms of victories since the team won 15 games in 2010. And in losing just two starters to graduation, the team is in great position to be even better this season. Leading scorer Dalton Phillips is one of the graduates, but the next three leaders in scoring from 2016 — juniors Tyler Joslyn (21 goals), Jon Marble (18) and sophomore Alex Roach (15) — are back. Senior Colton Welch led the team in ground balls (97) and is winning 61% of his faceoffs this season, getting plenty of help from the speed of senior LSM Jake Davis, who is composed and smart with the ball on clears. Davis can also play close defense and joins junior Dennis White and sophomore Cody Wohlschlegel to provide a solid unit in front of No. 1 goalie, sophomore Devin Campbell. The Bombers are playing good team lacrosse so far are in the newly-formed Class D, which includes top contenders Penn Yan, Midlakes and Gananda. Trombley likes what he’s seeing so far this season and if the Pride takes care of details and prepares correctly, more success is on the way.

Canandaigua

Coach: Deven York, first season.

Last year: 10-9, lost to Webster Thomas in Section V Class B final.

League: Monroe County.

Outlook: A new era is underway at Canandaigua with first-year coach York, the former junior varsity coach who took over for the retired Ed Mulheron. The Braves lost 10 to graduation, but there is a new wave eager to prove itself. Senior attackman Devin Andrews is back after leading the team with 69 goals, and senior midfielder Carson Greene (14 goals) gives the Braves a playmaker who can create his own space with dodges that are slick and quick. Newcomers already making impacts on offense include sophomores Mark Belles and Mitch Pfeiffer, along with senior Connor McClain and junior Alex Burley. Senior Joe Post is a grinder on faceoffs and is already winning 64% of his draws this season, while senior Tim Rice is sharing time in goal with senior Brandon Moore. Seniors Roger Panara, Spencer Taft and Jake D’Agostino give the Braves plenty of experience at close defense and York points to discipline and ethic as the keys to this season. Playing smart lacrosse and understanding the value of possession will play a big role as well, and even though the Braves have two losses this season, each are by one goal. 

Marcus Whitman

Coach: Ryan Kerrick, third season.

Last year: 0-16, did not qualify for postseason.

League: Finger Lakes.

Outlook: It’s been a rough go the last couple of seasons for the Wildcats, who went a combined 1-31 in 2015 and ’16 after winning seven games in 2014. Whitman won its opener against non-league Watkins Glen but hasn’t been able to sustain the momentum since, losing four straight. Four of Whitman’s top five scorers are back this spring, including juniors Timmy Cornish (37 goals) and Schuyler Bredesen (22). Freshman Seth Benedict is back too and is leading the team with 14 goals so far this spring. Junior goalie Michael Dhondt is back and is showing improvement. Last spring, his save percentage was at 44% and through five games this year, he’s at 54%. If the Wildcats can tighten the defense and find ways to score, they should have no problem adding a few more Ws to their total for the final whistle of the season.

Midlakes

Coach: Ben Clement, sixth season.

Last year: 6-11, lost to Palmyra-Macedon in Section V Class C, first round.

League: Finger Lakes.

Outlook: The Screaming Eagles closed last season with four wins in their final five games and that momentum appears to be rolling into this season. With wins in six of their first seven games, the Screaming Eagles are on a roll, and with their top four scorers back from a year ago, why wouldn’t they by? Senior Ryan Macdonnell has already scored 32 goals after scoring 29 last spring, and fellow seniors Robert Middlebrook (13 goals) and Jon Salotti (12) are giving Midlakes other options. Sophomore Brandon Macdonnell has 13 goals as well, providing even more depth. The defense is allowing just 6.5 goals a game so far, getting quality work from seniors Zach Davison and Blake Smith in goal. Davison has seen the most work at 254 minutes, but he’s stopping shots at a rate of 54% while Smith is at 68% in the 82 minutes he’s played. The quick start to the season has made Midlakes a contender in the Finger Lakes, but with games yet to be played against Geneva and Palmyra-Macedon, bigger tests will provide a more accurate reading on exactly where the Screaming Eagles stand.

Palmyra-Macedon

Coach: Joe Hill, 10th season.

Last year: 13-5, lost to Gananda in Section V Class C quarterfinals.

League: Finger Lakes.

Outlook: The Red Raiders lost one starter to graduation and so far this spring, they’re playing like a team that has nine starters back. They’re 6-1 and are outscoring opponents nearly 15-3. Too, the one loss this season is a one-goal road decision against Brighton. Any talk of the Pal-Mac offense begins with senior attackman Brian Burger, who has 33 goals already and has scored no fewer than three goals in any game. Sophomores Kasey Gallina (10 goals) and Jake Gallina (10), senior Joe Lyko (10) and freshman Grady Arnold (14) give Pal-Mac plenty of options on offense. And with senior Jared Hurlbutt stopping shots at 65.8%, the defense has a solid anchor in the cage. In front of him, senior Nate Arnold is the focal point of the defensive runners, and seniors Jeff Patnode and Brandon Hawkins round out the experienced unit. All the pieces are in place for the Red Raiders to contend for their first Section V championship in a Class C bracket that includes Aquinas, Honeoye Falls-Lima and Wayne.

Victor

Coach: Jim Andre, fifth season.

Last year: 22-0, Won Section V Class A championship and NYS Class A championship.

League: Monroe County.

Outlook: What do you think the outlook is for a team that lost nearly every starter from a two-time state championship team? Exactly, and that’s why the Blue Devils are 5-0 this season and have won 49 straight games. But even with the massive graduation hit, the Blue Devils have plenty of skill and experience coming back. Juniors Andrew Russell (16 goals) and Mitchell Cain (12) and senior Zach Estabrooks (10) are the leaders of a balanced unit that has six players with six or more goals. And how about the faceoffs, now that TD Ierlan is gone? Junior Tucker Hill (55%) and sophomore Richie Pierpont (63%) are splitting that duty and doing well. Defensively, junior goalie Chayse Ierlan is back after missing the hockey season with an injury, and he’ll have juniors Mike Novitsky, Mitch Rydzynski, Tanner Hay and senior Matt Gardner among the runners in front of him. The Blue Devils are winning by an average score of 15-6, but there are some big games upcoming, including a couple of non-league teams from Illinois and Michigan that will test the win streak. It’s clear, though, that pressure does little to ruffle the feathers at Victor and with the team’s return to Class B, a fourth straight Section V championship is not out of the question.