#1. St. Johns
Over the past few years, St. Johns has emerged as not only one of the most formidable programs in the DMV, but the entire country, finishing off last season as WCAC Champs, DC Champions, and the #2 ranked team in the country. The catalyst for this upward trajectory has been their tremendous 2022 class which features a bevy of talented recruits headed to play collegiately next year. On the offensive side of the ball, the Cadets are led by senior midfielder Luke Rhoa (Syracuse) an athletic downhill dodger with an excellent outside shot. Two other offensive studs to keep an eye on are senior Attackmen Gavin Kelly () and Mac Haley (Navy), who are both fantastic off ball and as initiators. Defensively, the Cadets are anchored by senior captains Riley Figuerias (Syracuse) and Richard Checko (Lehigh). Figuerias is a poised close defenseman with impeccable fundamentals, while Checko plays with a more aggressive demeanor. Joining this elite defensive unit is fellow ‘22 Syracuse signee Vinny Trujillo, a lockdown SSDM who is a force between the lines. Playing behind this elite defensive unit is Caleb Fyock, a junior Ohio state commit who is one of the top goal keepers in the DMV. The one question for St. Johns head coach Wes Speaks will be replacing the production of ‘22 1st line midfielders, Paul Garza and Jon-Luke Duley, who transferred in the offseason. The Cadets will benefit from a few transfers themselves, particularly in Faceoff specialist Jackie Weller, a scrappy and athletic junior who is committed to play at Michigan. Playing one of the most difficult schedules in the entire country, the Cadets will be tested early and often; however, they will remain the top dogs in the DMV until toppled. Their first test comes March 4th when they take on Georgetown Prep in what is sure to be an epic rematch of last year’s DC championships. Look for the Madlax Media Team to cover that game and make it the DMVLAX Game of the Week!
#2. Georgetown Prep
If the defending IAC Champion Little Hoyas seek to repeat as Champs in one of the toughest leagues in the entire country, the key will be replacing the offensive production of one of the best midfield lines the DMV has ever seen in the form of ‘21 graduates Will Angrick (Notre Dame) Michael Ridgeway (Notre Dame) and Hugh Mulane (Brown). For most teams, these losses would be catastrophic; however, Prep is ridiculously deep and instead of rebuilding, they will simply replace, particularly with studs from their exceptionally talented junior class. Look for huge springs out of junior midfielders Tommy Arata (Colgate), Larry Horning (Georgetown) and uncommitted stud Rafe Bradshaw. Additionally, the Little Hoyas offense will be bolstered by the Episcopal transfer of junior attackmen, Nate Kabiri (Georgetown). Kabiri, one of the top recruits in the ‘23 class will join Prep’s leading scorer from last year, Colin ‘BBQ’ Burns, is another top recruit in the junior class who will play collegiately at Princeton. BBQ runs the offense for the Little Hoyas most ly from X and is an extremely high IQ QB back there. Defensively, the Little Hoyas will be led by a pair of academy commits in senior Sam Muir (Navy) and junior Isaiah Rose (Army). Look for Ryan Welgos or Graham Lesher, sophomores, to be the 3rd starter. Muir, a physically imposing defender who lays lumber contrasts perfectly with the slighter Rose, who has exquisite footwork and throws surgical checks. The Little Hoyas are deep at every position, but their biggest strength comes between the lines in the form of senior Faceoff specialist Mac Eldridge (Virginia) and long stick midfielder Mac Christmas (Duke). Both regarded as Top 10 recruits and the top player at their position in their respective classes, Eldridge has impeccable technique and dominates the stripe, while Christmas’ 6’4 frame and offensive skills allows him to wreak havoc between the lines and often score in transition. While replacing so much offensive production will certainly be a question for the Little Hoyas, they have talent and depth at every position, making them the favorite to take home the IAC and compete for the DC Championship.
#3. St. Stephens
Having burst onto the DMVLAX scene in 2013 with their first IAC title in school history, the St. Stephens Saints have yet to reclaim the title despite several appearances in the Championship game. But with one of their most talented rosters in the past decade, the Saints enter the 2022 campaign with their eyes on the IAC and VISAA Championships. Led by one of the deepest senior classes in the area, the Saints will rely heavily on their extremely talented attack unit to keep them in games. The Saints offense will be led by senior lefty gunslinger Will McCulloch (Loyola), one of the craftiest players in the country whose slick feeds are a thing of beauty. Joining McCulloch is fellow senior Witt Crawford, the IAC’s leading scorer in 2021, who is signed to play at Drexel next year. McCulloch and Crawford have proven to be one of the top duos in the DMV and will be sure to gives opposing defensives fits. The defensive unit of Coach Tim Dodds’ squad is talented, deep, and experienced. The unit is orchestrated by senior goal tender Jasper Simon (LIU) an excellent shot stopper who is also a vocal leader in the cage. Playing in front of Simon is a trio of senior defensemen in Calum Wayer (UMBC), Baylor Hunt (Air Force), and Wolfi Gottschalk (Colorado Mesa). Another key component to this talented defensive group is senior SSDM Grayson Schmidt, a recent North Carolina commit who has proven himself to be a force between the lines. The main questions for the Saints will come at the midfield and at the Faceoff stripe. Look for senior William Aiken and sophomore John-John O’Bryant-Graves to have breakout seasons. Aiken is an off-ball wizard and outside shooting threat, while O’Bryant-Graves is more of a pure dodger with an incredible first step. If the Saints can figure out an answer at the Faceoff X, expect for them to compete for the rare combined duel IAC and Virginia State titles in 2022.
The Bullis Bulldogs enter the 2022 campaign with a sour taste in their mouth, having fallen by a narrow margin in the IAC Championship to Prep. As his Bulldogs look to return the the championship, Coach Jeff Bellestri biggest challenge will be replacing losses to graduation. The biggest loss, arguably comes in the form of Jack Fracyon, a current Penn State freshman who was the top netminder in the area last season. Look for Fracyon’s shoes to be filled by sophomore Brayden Ferguson, one of the top goalies in the class nationwide, who has an incredible top hand punch. Another strength of last year’s Bullis squad was their talented class of senior defensemen headlined by a pair of current Penn freshman Ethan Till and Tyler Khuel. This will be a relatively easy task for Coach Bellestri, as Bullis has a stable of thoroughbred defensemen which includes Till’s younger brother Matthew: A talented junior who will join him at Penn in 2023, Grant Ettinger, a hard nosed, scrappy junior defensemen bound for Colgate, and senior Captain Charlie Muller, one of the top defensemen in the DMV, whose massive frame, ferocious checks, and fantastic footwork make him one of the hardest matchups in the area. Muller will take his talents to Harvard next year. Offensively, less is known about what the Bulldogs will bring to the table. One thing that is certain, they will need to replace the scoring of current Bucknell freshman stud Connor Davis, who led Bullis in scoring last season. Look for Senior Princeton commit Tucker Wade to take over the reins of the offense playing mostly attack in 2022. One of the best players in the class, Wade’s offensive skillset is exquisite. While he played midfield last season, a move to attack makes sense to lead the Bulldogs offense. Other key players to watch on the offensive side of the Ball include junior midfielder Ben Jose, an athletic downhill dodger who is verbally committed to play at St. Joes. For the Bulldogs to be successful and have a shot at winning the IAC crown, they will need a big season out of senior Christian MacArthur, an undersized but scrappy Faceoff specialist and Brayden Ferguson, outstanding sophomore goalie. Expect Bullis to rely on their extremely talented defensive group to keep them in games and to have a strong shot at another IAC title.
For the first time in over a decade, Casey O’Neil will not be calling the show for the Purple Eagles of Eye Street. During his campaign, Gonzaga became a dominant force in the DMV, amassing 9 WCAC championships. But over the past few years, St. Johns has become the dominant force in the WCAC. As former longtime defensive coordinator Jeff King enters his first year as the head coach of Gonzaga, the Purple Eagles look to regain control of the WCAC. Luckily for Coach King, he did inherit a roster stock full of Division 1 talent at almost every position. Additionally, the in-house coaching change will make for a fluid transition. Starting on the defensive end of the field, junior Penn commit Declan Monahan will man the pipes. A vocal presence in cage, Monahan is an excellent ball stopper with a cool demeanor. Playing in front of Monahan will include junior defensemen Austin Cunningham (Army) and Matthew Rienzo (Georgetown), while senior Rutgers signee Ryan Splaine anchors the group. While Splaine is a lethal weapon in transition and typically plays at the long stick position, look for him to occasionally move down low as Gonzaga’s top cover guy. Another huge part of Coach King’s defensive group is Lief Hagerup, a senior short stick defensive midfielder bound for North Carolina. Extremely athletic, Hagerup can match feet with just about anyone, and is excellent on wings and pushing the ball in transition. Gonzaga has several stud midfielders who can play on both ends of the ball including senior Brendan Lane (Holy Cross), and junior Jack Leland (Georgetown) who were both key contributors on the first line last year for the Purple Eagles. Additionally, expect significant contributions from senior Ian McGlynn, and sophomores Robbie Bath, Cody Hobson, and James Gardiner, a dynamic group of athletic midfielders. The offensive catalyst for the Purple Eagles is James Matan, a powerful attackman committed to UNC with significant size, athleticism, and a knack for the creative. Expect Matan to take the role as the quarterback and primary initiator of the offense as they aim for the WCAC title.
Defense-Defense-Defense. The Landon Bears squad entering the ‘22 season is relatively young on offense, but incredibly experienced and talented on the defensive side. The Bears return a large cohort of contributors from last year’s team but are tasked with replacing three pivotal pieces: their leading scorer in Graham Hertzberg (Michigan), defensemen Jake Cohen (Yale), and a stud faceoff specialist, Nick Kopp (Amherst), all of whom were captains and vocal leaders. Leading the returners on defense will be senior goalie, captain and 3-Year starter, Hunter Taylor, who will head to play at Michigan next year. Looking to replace Cohen as Landon’s go to guy on the defensive end of the field will be senior Ohio State signee, Cullen Brown, who will play LSM and cCLOSE much like Jake did. Will Cohen, Jake’s younger brother and future Buckeye, is an extremely versatile athlete at LSM who can shut down top midfielders and score points. Jackson Galiani, senior Captain headed to Hobart, will also start at close. Look for sophomore LSM, Davis Owens, to make an impact also. The shortstick defensive midfield unit are where the Bears are stacked and scary athletic. Preston Lugar, Navy commit, Nathan Furgeson, 3-sport sophomore, and Colin Flood, Colby commit, are arguably the best group there in the area. At the offensive midfield, the first line will consist of senior Will Single (Dickinson), sophomore Anthony Panetti, and senior Dartmouth commit Cameron Brown who burst onto the scene as one of the top middies in the DMV last year. Junior Owen Calderone (Monmouth) and Chase Robertson, sophomore, should also be key contributors from the second midfield. At attack, look for sophomore, Kevin Miller, to take the reins and fill the shoes of Hertzberg as the leader of the offense after a fantastic freshman campaign in which he finished second on the Bears roster in scoring. Joining Miller at attack will be Zak Ohlerking, a four-year starter and Dartmouth commit and Anthony Savoy, Junior. The final piece of the puzzle for first year head coach, Will McGettigan, will be figuring out how to replace Kopp at the Faceoff stripe but Bobby Rudski should shoulder that responsibility just fine. The biggest question mark for the Bears is how quickly their new coaching staff will get the offense gelling and scoring. Former Georgetown Prep and Churchill coach, Mike Kubik, is taking over the offense completely. He and McGettigan have acquired a very young offense and have implemented new systems which could take weeks and weeks to figure out and adjust to so chances are the Bears will start the season slow with low scoring outputs. But, as always, we expect Landon to figure it out, compete hard, and be one of the top teams in the area and jst maybe IAC Champs again in May.
#7. St. Albans
St. Albans is a program that has been on a steady rise in the past few years, and we believe 2022 is the year that they could put it together and potentially make a run at an IAC title. Deeper and more athletic than they have ever been, the Bulldogs have talent all over the field, particularly between the lines, as two of their biggest strengths come at the faceoff and LSM positions in a pair of junior Penn commits. The guy to watch on St. Albans is junior long stick midfielder Pasha Hakimi. The future Quaker uses his rangy frame to throw surgical checks, while his excellent stick and offense prowess make him a weapon in transition. This, coupled with fellow Penn verbal and St. Albans faceoff specialist Will Roberts’ ability to take over games, give the Bulldogs an advantage between the lines against almost anyone in the DMV. Joining Hakimi on the defensive end of the ball are fellow juniors Ike Lohnes (Michigan) a lockdown close defensemen, Steele Bohemian, and Luke Bernasek, another talented LSM who can also play down low. Offensively, they will need to replace the scoring of last year’s leading scorer, Jason Lach, a current Bowdoin freshman who was an All- IAC Selection last season. Look for senior Bob Gross (Amherst) to take the reins. Using his large frame, Gross is excellent at creating around the goal and finishing inside. Joining Gross on the offensive side of the ball are a trio of athletic midfielder in Chris Berry, Corbet Darden (Sewanee), and Luke Harmon (Amherst Football). While St. Albans is talented, one of the biggest questions will be depth; however, if the Bulldogs can lean on their strength between the lines and on the defensive end, we expect a big season for St. Albans.
#8. Paul VI
Paul VI is the second team in the Top 20 and WCAC that will be entering the 2022 season having undergone a coaching change, as long time Head Coach Bob Waters stepped down after last season. During that time, he built a very solid program that has been competitive in the WCAC and VISAA. As new head Coach Stephen Lee takes the reigns, the Panthers hope to battle for the WCAC and return once again to the VISAA state championship, which they lost last year in a thriller to Episcopal. While they return the majority of their roster, they did lose a few key players to graduation and transfer in current Boston freshman Will Barnes who had manned the pipes for the Panthers for several years, as well as talented attackmen and senior Rutgers commit Zach Walsh and Merrimack signee Gavin Levay, a starting defensemen. Replacing Barnes will be junior Utah commit Matthew Denine, a formidable keeper with great hands. Playing in front of Denine are a pair of stud junior defensemen Nathan Murphy (Richmond) and Parker Love (Navy) both of whom play a physical style of defense with a mean streak and are excellent in transition. Leading the way on the offensive end of the field will be senior midfielder Marco Signorello, a dynamic athlete with incredible change of direction and a tireless motor. Joining Signorello at the midfield will be juniors Jayden Mullens (Mount St. Marys) and Henry Fleckner (Boston). The attack unit will be led by the talented duo of senior Carson Boyle (Vermont) and junior Matt Han (Michigan). Boyle plays a calmer style of lacrosse and is an incredible inside finisher with excellent hands, while Han is the initiator at X and has fantastic footwork. Paul VI’s biggest strength may come at the faceoff stripe in their two headed monster of Johnny Kidd (Lehigh) and Grant Giunchi (St. Bonaventure), a pair of athletic, scrappy faceoff men who can push transition. This Paul VI team is talented and deep, the only question will be how they handle the loss of the coaching staff and transition to the new coaches. Also, who will replace the scoring of Walsh. Expect the Panthers to compete in the WCAC and make a deep run at a VISAA title.
The DeMatha Stags were a pleasant surprise in 2021, upsetting multiple teams and making a deep run in the DC Championships, falling to St. Johns in the semifinals. The third Top 20 and WCAC program to be transitioning head coaches, Dave Mitchell will take the helm after a long tenure at the Heights. Entering 2022, the biggest challenge for Mitchell and his staff will be replacing former star and current starting Lehigh midfielder Dakota Eierman, who was not only their biggest contributor, but also a vocal and emotional leader on the field. We expect junior Graham Parker to fill those shoes. Parker, a Navy commit, is a dynamic and versatile athlete with a bevy of moves. While he primarily plays midfield, we would expect a potential shift to attack to boost the offense for the Stags. While DeMatha did suffer key losses to graduation, Dave Mitchell was able to snag a Bullis mid-year transfer in junior attackmen, Malik Wood, who will take over for Eierman at the lefty attack spot. Wood is an excellent dodger and shooter and is committed to play collegiately at St. Joes. Dylan McKelvy, a senior Mercer commit, and Desmond Holt, a senior Stevenson commit, also look to play large roles in the Stags offense. DeMatha will also be tasked with replacing their top cover guy due to the graduation of Ben McKelvy, a current Rutgers freshman. Look for Nick Sims, a rangy athletic junior long stick midfielder bound for Hofstra or Dylan Hendrix, a more physically imposing close defenseman to anchor the defense. Another challenge the Stags will face will be replacing current VMI FO specialist and ‘21 graduate Diego Markie at the faceoff stripe. If the Stags can manage to replace their losses due to graduation, we expect them to have another excellent year in 2022.
No public school in recent years has been more dominant than defending 4A State Champion Riverside, who enter the season having won back to back state titles, with 2021 marking their third title in four years. We are once again very high on the Rams, as they return a vast portion of last year's state championship team, including fifteen seniors. The standout from this loaded senior class is defenseman John Schroter (UVA), a physical specimen who is lethal in transition and is considered to be one of the top cover defensemen in the country. On the other side of the field fellow senior Evan Boswell (Towson) stands out. The tall, athletic midfielder has an explosive first step and is dangerous once he gets downhill. Down low, the attack duo of junior Chase Paschuk (Jacksonville) and senior Cole Jones (VMI) will be a dynamic pairing that should fill stat sheets and make up for the loss of scoring due to the graduation of Navy freshman Carter Ash, who led the team in scoring last season. The bigger hole to fill comes from the graduation of Nick Callis (Utah), a dynamic faceoff midfielder who could play both ways. Look for sophomore Zach Ward to take over the primary duties at the faceoff stripe. For the second year in a row, Riverside will face off against WCAC power Gonzaga in a non conference affair. Last season’s contest was a competitive battle and solid measuring stick for the Rams, and this year’s game will once again be one to keep an eye on. Another game to watch for Riverside is another non-conference clash with MIAA squad Severn. A win in either of these games would be a huge step forward for a program already on an upward trajectory. Expect Riverside to be one of, if not the, strongest public programs in the DMV and to repeat as VHSL 4A Champs.