SUMMIT, NJ - If one needed evidence of the tightrope that is boys prep lacrosse in the Garden State, consider this:
The 2016 Summit High School Boys Varsity Lacrosse Team lost two games by a grand total of two goals, and ended up without a County or State piece of hardware.
Two games. Two goals. Two double overtimes. Westfield in the Union County final. Ramapo in the NJSIAA playoffs.
That's the challenge that Hall of Fame Coach Jim Davidson and his squad face as they head into the 2017 season, as traditional powers are, well, traditional powers, and more schools are developing top-notch programs.
Summit saw 17 seniors graduate, including their goalie, three-fourths of their defense, and a chunk of talented midfielders. The key for Davidson will be incorporating new contributors and getting elevated contributions from his returning starters, both in term of performance and leadership.
The good news is that depth will not be a problem. "We have good numbers," says Davidson, adding, "They have looked good in scrimmages but, for many, it will be the first time they have seen game experience at this level."
Two senior captains -- defender Finn McTernan and attack Corey McManus -- will both be counted on as anchor contributors at opposite ends of the field.
McTernan is a big, agile, and athletic defender, while McManus is coming off a 45-goal campaign which followed his 51-goal total in 2015.
On defense, McTernan will be joined by seniors Patrick Tully, who missed all of the 2016 campaign due to injury, Liam Dougherty, Christian Fusco, and Chris McKee, along with juniors Jameson Waldron and Stephen Sajer, plus sophomore Davis Strabley.
Between the pipes in goal, where the pre-season competition has been fierce, the Hilltoppers have solid options in seniors Patrick Moriarty and Sam Kaplan, and juniors Will Vitton and Julian Rupkey.
In the midfield, expect a committee to get minutes, with seniors Jack Johnson -- moved from attack -- Christian Greer, Sean Crotty, Scott Mauriello, Griffin Breen, and Brendan McGinn; juniors Tom Fischetti, and Eamon McTernan, along with sophomores Greg Moller and Jackson Tyler all expected to contribute.
Senior Sam Zanelli and junior Joe Persche will be taking the face-offs.
Up front on attack, McManus will be joined by senior Chris Fowler -- who has been chosen to wear the hallowed '39' jersey -- and junior Harry Kilkowski.
Like the Hilltopper Girls program, the weather has been no friend of Davidson and his boys, which means that the time normally used for the implementation of systems has been radically condensed.
Still, Summit's 'X Factor' is 331-game winning head coach. Davidson's approach and his system, along with his singular, laser-like approach -- unwavering in 19 years at the Kent Place Boulevard campus helm -- to consistently improve every day, every game, is evident when he is asked about goals set for the upcoming season.
"We were two goals away from being undefeated, but all the programs are getting better," said Davidson. "We don't talk about 'States or 'Counties, we just focus on what is ahead of us - that is what we do."
Summit will undertake a gauntlet-ish start to the season, opening on the road at Seton Hall Prep on March 29, then traveling to Delbarton before returning home to face Westfield.
Such is the world New Jersey high school lacrosse.
2017 Summit High School Boys Varsity Lacrosse Team Roster
Davis Hausman, Senior #1 - LSM
Gray Humphrey, Sophomore #2 - Midfield
Julian Rupkey, Junior #4 - Goalie
Patrick Moriarty, Senior #5 - Goalie
Graham DeSanto, Junior #8 - Attack
Will Vitton, Junior #9 - Goalie
Skyler Schluter, Sophomore #10 - Attack
Nick Thomson, Junior #11 - Attack
Charlie Collins, Sophomore #12 - Attack
Sean Crotty, Senior #13 - Midfield
Corey McManus, Senior #14 - Attack (C)
Harry Kilkowski, Junior #15 - Attack
Greg Moller, Sophomore #16 - Midfield
Jack Johnson, Senior #17 - Midfield
Ryan Riegle, Sophomore #18 - Defense
Jack Browne, Junior #19 - Midfield
Griffin Breen, Senior #21 - Midfield
Jackson Tyler, Sophomore #22 - Midfield
Sam Zanelli, Senior #23 - FO / Mid
Tom Fischetti, Junior #i24 - Midfield
Joe Persche, Junior #25 - FO / Mid
Scott Mauriello, Senior #26 - Midfield
Christian Greer, Senior #27 - Midfield
Grant Kobrin, Senior #28 - Defense
Sam Kaplan, Senior #29 - Goalie
Mike Vega, Senior #30 - Midfield
Liam Dougherty, Senior #31 - Defense
Eamon McTernan, Junior #32 - Midfield
Peter Maldonado, Junior #33 - Defense
Finn McTernan, Senior #34 - Defense (C)
Jack Bonomo, Senior #36 - Midfield
Christian Fusco, Senior #37 - Defense
Stephen Sajer, Junior #38 - Defense
Chris Fowler, Senior #39 - Attack
Chris McKee, Senior #40 - Defense
Davis Strabley, Sophomore #41 - Defense
Pat Tully, Senior #42 - Defense
Dom Yorio, Sophomore #43 - Defense
Brendan McGinn, Senior #44 - Midfield
Jameson Waldron, Junior #45 - Defense
Will Goldy, Junior #35 / 49 - Midfield
(C) - denotes Team Captain
Head Coach - Jim Davidson, 19th Season
Assistant Coach - Nick Schmidt
Assistant Coach - Nick Kilkowski
JV Coach - Dave Hobson
JV Coach - Dave Howarth
Freshman Coach - Kevin Donnelly
Freshman Coach - Dan Trench
2017 Regular Season Schedule
Home Games in BOLD - played at Investors Bank Field
Mar. 29 @ 4:30 p.m. @ Seton Hall Preparatory
Apr. 1 @ 11 a.m. @ Delbarton
Apr 4 @ 4:30 p.m. v. Westfield
Apr 6 @ 4:30 v. Old Bridge
Apr. 8 @ 4 p.m. @ Minisink Valley
Apr. 11 @ 4:30 p.m. v. Glen Rock
Apr. 13 @ 4:30 p.m. v. Sparta
Apr. 15, @ 11 a.m. @ Princeton
Apr. 18 @ 4:30 p.m. v. West Morris Central
Apr. 20 @ 4:30 p.m. v. West Essex
Apr. 22. @ 4:30 p.m. @ Chatham
Apr 26 @ 6 p.m. @ Moorestown (site TBA)
Apr, 29 @ 12 p.m. @ Lincoln-Sudbury Regional, MA
May 1 - Union County Tournament @ 4 p.m. v. TBA (Site TBA)
May 4 - Union County Tournament @ 5:30 p.m. v. TBA @ A.L. Johnson High School
May 6 - Union County Championships @ 7:30 p.m. v. TBA @ A.L. Johnson High School
May 10 @ 4:30 p.m. @ Ridgewood