Saints aim to keep rolling in lacrosse

Published 9:04 pm Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Nansemond-Suffolk Academy sophomore Matt Buttery, left, and senior Greg Doloresco, No. 17, defend against a member of visiting Trinity Christian School on Saturday during the Saints' 10-3 victory. (Sam Mizelle photo)

Nansemond-Suffolk Academy sophomore Matt Buttery, left, and junior Matt Minter, No. 17, defend against a member of visiting Trinity Christian School on Saturday during the Saints’ 10-3 victory. (Sam Mizelle photo)

The Nansemond-Suffolk Academy boys’ lacrosse team has started its 2015 campaign off with a couple of wins, appropriate for a motivated team that finished last season with NSA’s first trip to the state title game since 2001.

“I feel like we’re in a solid place right now,” Saints coach T.W. Johnson said.

NSA defeated visiting Trinity Christian School by the score of 10-3 on Saturday, following a 7-3 season-opening win against visiting Hampton Roads Academy on March 17.

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Despite the Saints’ win against HRA, Johnson noted they did not play great. But against Trinity Christian, which returned significant players from its 2014 squad that advanced to the state semifinals, his team gave a much more balanced performance.

“I think it was a good step for us in the right direction,” Johnson said.

Senior attackman Whit Riddick, junior attackman Noah Dowd, senior midfielder Addison Peak and junior midfielder Noah Serianni scored two goals apiece, while senior midfielder Cole Jackson and sophomore attackman Tanner Jackson each scored one.

The Saints return many players who contributed to the team’s 2014 success but also lost several due to graduation and one due to transfer. The nine graduates included Zach Leitner, Jacob Edwards and Dan Hotte.

“All three of those players were first team all-state last year,” Johnson said.

Junior Morgan Wentz, who was a starter, has transferred to Norfolk Academy.

Nansemond-Suffolk went 10-8 last season, reaching the Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association Division II state final where the Saints fought hard, but ultimately fell 12-10 to The Covenant School.

This year, NSA features 11 seniors, 11 juniors, six sophomores and two freshmen.

While the team has some seasoned players, “it may not be quite as experienced as it looks,” Johnson said, noting as an example that two seniors have never played before this year. Another is coming back after a few years away from the game.

But Johnson said he does not expect to change his expectations much from year to year.

“We want to be competing for the state championship and the TCIS championship on a yearly basis,” he said. “Neither one of those are easy, but we want to set the bar high, see if we can achieve those goals.”

Helping toward that end, the Saints have some talented players in place all over the field.

“I think our attack unit is very good,” Johnson said.

It features Whit Riddick, a returning starter, Noah Dowd, who was excellent in the state playoffs last year, and Tanner Jackson, who saw plenty of playing time as a freshman.

Addison Peak, who was a key player for NSA last season, returns in the midfield.

Johnson said that, like last year, the defense is going to be the cornerstone of the team.

“David Gough is a returning first team all-state player on defense,” he said of the senior football star.

Other defensemen include seniors Austin Babb and Grant Leicester, and long-stick midfielders include junior Cole Christiansen, junior Reed Browne and sophomore Jack Bivins.

On defense, “we’ve got depth, we’ve got size, we’ve got speed,” Johnson said.

Senior Mac Hardee takes over in goal for the graduated Hotte.

“We’ve been really pleased with Mac’s development, and I feel like he’s going to be a very positive factor for us this spring,” Johnson said.

Nansemond-Suffolk (2-0) hosts Norfolk Collegiate School this afternoon.