SUMMIT, NJ - Summit High School Boys Varsity Lacrosse Head Coach Jim Davidson does not wear a white lab coat, and one will likely not see him in the world of beakers, Bunsen burners, and test tubes. That doesn't mean the long-time leader is not a master chemist.
It has been Davidson's advanced level of lacrosse alchemy -- annually blending a strong core with new contributors in a multitude of roles to form a dynamic team -- that has fueled the sustained excellence which Hilltopper lacrosse has come to symbolize.
In a town where the sport is a generational tradition, nigh a religion, there has been -- and continues to be -- a high volume of quality student athletes passing through the program. Lacrosse, however, is perhaps the ultimate "team" sport, and it is the group that can get the most from the sum of their parts that ultimately takes the prize.
The 2015 Varsity is still in the experimental stage, and a gauntlet of a schedule awaits. Only time will tell how high and far they will go, but it is not exactly going out on a limb to think that Davidson and his team will be in the mix when the season reaches its pinnacle stages in late May and early June.
The 2014 Hilltoppers got all the way to the Tournament of Champions final, before dropping a 7-5 decision to the Green Wave of Delbarton. Summit graduated a big part of that team, including: All-American goalie Sam Bebout; attack Connor Murphy, Jarrett Ross, and James Strabley; midfielder Matt Fischetti: defender Matt Sajer, and FOGO Brian Hadley.
The departed seniors will obviously be missed, but a significant chunk of last season's key contributors are back, anchored by a defense that should be, well, the anchor of the squad.
The core nucleus will mix with the next generation, many of whom will be asked to step in and contribute in various roles, all guided by Davidson and his staff, whose collective pedigree to get the most out of their team is without question.
Four senior captains have been named: Defenders Andrew Helmer and Peter McKinlay, attack John Cordrey, and Midfielder Chris Zanelli.
Cordrey will lead a group that includes Charlie Guttila, Colin Andrews, Tucker Hall, Matt Newman, and sophomore Corey McManus. When operating on all cylinders, the ball moves rapidly and frequently in Summit's offense, and opportunities will exist for each to get their share of goals.
A potential big-time strength for the Hilltoppers will get even stronger when Zanelli is added to the line-up. The senior captain is close to returning, after suffering a broken leg in the state football semifinals in late November, 2014.
Andrew Chase, Riley Flynn, Evan Kulpan, and Drew Mulholland will make major contributions to a crew that also includes Hunter Wyckoff, Jack McCarthy, Xavier McCormick, Brian Hagan, Christian Greer, and Sam Zanelli.
Defense and Goal
Traditional to a Davidson-coached team, defense will be the Hilltoppers foundation. All-American Helmer is a special athlete and a three-year starter. He will be joined by seniors Sean Andrews and Peter McKinlay. Expect juniors Casey Andrews and Liam Lawler, along with sophomore Pat Tully, to contribute as well.
Jay Winchell becomes the last line of defense, taking over for Bebout. Like much of the team, communication and chemistry will be a key factor in the defense's ability to reach their full potential.
Steve Rainero assumes the duties, having taken face-offs last season when he spotted Brian Hadley. A long-pole defender on the roster, Rainero will face off with a short stick. Other Hilltoppers who might see action in "the X" include Kulpan and Malcolm Feeney.
If there was a Mount Rushmore for high school lacrosse coaches, Davidson would likely be on it. Entering his 17th season leading the Hilltoppers, he has won six Group and two Tournament of Champions titles, along with myriad conference and division crowns, Inducted into the New Jersey Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 2007, Davidson has compiled a 297-51 record at Summit, for a phenomenal winning percentage of .853.
On the eve of the season -- which begins with the traditional jump-into-the-fire game versus Delbarton -- Davidson knows that his team is nowhere near the finished article he aspires it to be and, therefore, is focused on his team's work ethic, practice habits, and daily improvement.
"We have a good senior core, guys that have been through it before, and that is what we will building on," he said. "We are integrating new kids, some who haven't seen a lot of varsity lacrosse game time."
Known for playing a extremely rigorous schedule, Davidson will see his team play local powers, including Delbarton, Chatham, Westfield, and Seton Hall Prep, while also taking on out-of-state titans like Cherry Hills, CO, and Lincoln-Sudbury, MA.
"We will develop through competition, the schedule is tough, so we'll make our evaluations during the week."
Summit High School Boys Varsity Lacrosse 2015 Roster
Player (Uniform Number) - Class Year, Position
Casey Andrews (2) - junior, LSM
Colin Andrews (29) - senior, attack
Sean Andrews (41) - senior, defense
Jimmy Birle (13) - senior, midfield
Donovan Cahill (9) - junior, defense
Andrew Chase (12) - junior, midfield
John Cordrey (15) - senior, attack
Jack Cranley (10) - junior, midfield
Teddy Cranley (32) - junior, goal
Alex Dadourian, (30) - junior, defense
Malcolm Feeney (19) - junior, midfield
Riley Flynn (22) - senior, midfield
Christian Greer (35) - sophomore, midfield
Charlie Guttila (24) - senior, attack
Brian Hagan (26) - junior, midfield
Tucker Hall (4) - junior, attack
Andrew Helmer (34) - senior, defense
Jack Johnson (17) - sophomore, midfield
Evan Kulpam (11) - junior, midfield
Liam Lawler (37) - junior, defense
Max Limmer (27) - junior, defense
Jack McCarthy (16) - senior, midfield
Xavier McCormick (31) - junior, midfield
Chris McKee (40) - sophomore, defense
Travis McKee (21) - junior, midfield
Peter McKinlay (33) - senior, LSM
Corey McManus (14) - sophomore, attack
Finn McTernan (43) - sophomore, defense
Drew Mulholland (8) - senior, midfield
Matt Newman (28) - junior, attack
Steve Rainero (39) - senior, defense, FOGO
Alex Schluter (1) - junior, defense
Patrick Tully (42) - sophomore, LSM
Jay Winchell (44) - senior, goal
Hunter Wyckoff (5) - senior, midfield
Chris Zanelli (23) - senior, midfield
Sam Zanelli (38) - sophomore, midfiled
Jim Davidson - Head Coach
Kyle Kirst - Assistant Coach
John Alpizar - Assistant Coach
Nick Schmidt - JV Head Coach
Jake Leckey - Freshman Head Coach
Tom Bowers - Freshman Assistant Coach
Summit High School Boys Varsity Lacrosse 2015 Schedule
Date - Opponent, Time
March 25 - @ Delbarton, 4 p.m.
March 28 - Rumson Fair Haven, 12 p.m.
March 31 - @ Chatham, 4:30 p.m.
April 2 - West Essex, 4:30 p.m.
April 4 - Cherry Creek, CO, 10 a.m. @ Oratory Prep
April 8 - West Morris Central, 4:30 p.m.
April 11 - @ Lincoln-Sudbury Regional, MA, 11 a.m.
April 14 - @ Mendham, 4 p.m.
April 16 - Glen Rock, 4:45 p.m.
April 18 - @ Princeton, 11 a.m.
April 20 - Mahwah, 4:30 p.m.
April 25 - Westfield, 11 a.m.
April 29 - @ Seton Hall Preparatory, 4 p.m.
May 2 - Old Bridge, 3 p.m.
May 4 - Union County Tournament
May 6 - Union County Tournament
May 9 - UCC Championship
May 12 - TBD
May 14 - Ridgewood, 4:30 p.m.
May 16 - NJSIAA Sectional
May 19 - NJSIAA Sectional
May 21 - NJSIAA Sectional
May 23 - NJSIAA Sectional Championship
May 27 - NJSIAA Group
May 30 - NJSIAA Tournament
June 3 - NJSIAA Tournament
June 6 - NJSIAA State Final