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End of An Era For Utah Military Lacrosse, Wrapping Up College Previews and New Coach Introductions.
Welcome to another edition of the Utah Lacrosse Report. We’re continuing to preview the upcoming season with our College Previews, along with introducing as many new coaches as we can get in contact with. As always, we want to extend a huge thank you to our sponsors Tribal West Lacrosse (website) & MinersTown Strength and Conditioning (website), who make the great coverage here at ULR possible!
Recently we came across a bit of news within the lacrosse community that Utah Military Academy would not be fielding a team for the 2023 season. The program began in 2018 and made significant strides over the course of the past four seasons of play. It seems like the growth of the game has swallowed up the program for now, Coach Reed Keller has moved on to Northridge and the growth of the game has led other players to find opportunities with other programs. It’s a sign of what happens with growth, specifically, change. I won’t claim to know all the works of Nathaniel Hawthorne but Martin Scorsese introduced me to the quote that “Families are always rising and falling in America” and really, so it goes with teams and programs in the world of sports. While the loss of the the UMA team is worth a mention and perhaps a bit of mourning, there’s also the news that Judge Memorial is moving to 4A. It’s a storied program in the lacrosse scene, and we’re looking forward to previewing more of what new Head Coach Jeff Brzoska has in-store as he takes the helm. If you don’t know Jeff, you can read more about him from Tim’s profile here. It’s hard to find someone who has as deep and rich a history in the sport locally as Jeff does, his journey is something like what Hawthorne spoke about, and while we embark on a new season where hope springs eternal, there will always be highs and lows no matter who and no matter which team we talk about. That’s the exciting part for me, being able to sit back and tell the stories but there’s a part of me, as someone who has been a coach trying to build a program from the ground up that is jealous of the highs and lows that come from being in the seat with the best view. For now, I’m looking forward to hearing more from you all about your programs as we prepare for the season and cranking out as many previews as we can. For me, this is the fall before the rise when we get action on the field, and I can finally get my feet wet in what I do best.
A Special Thanks To Dane Stewart and Kenzie Christiansen For Our Previews
Utah State Men’s Lacrosse Preview by Dane Stewart
Scott Bingham begins his 6th season leading the Aggies all the way. The 2022 season saw the Aggies surpass 10 wins for the first time in his tenure on the sidelines as they’ll look to build on that momentum in 2023 as they were voted by coaches as the preseason champion. The most notable note for Utah State in 2023 will be the returning Cooper Williams. The Sophomore Attacker out of Baltimore, Maryland led the Aggies in points in 2022, scoring 32 goals with 18 assists. Spencer Bishop, the Senior Midfielder who led the Aggies in assists is also on the roster in ’23. USU banked their 2022 defense on youth and will see returns on that this season. Nathan Boehme and Isaac Mann who led the team in ground balls will return, as do their LSM’s, Tycen Biggs and Jace O’Brien.
While the Ags must feel good with the status throughout the field, they will look for Jake Okelberry to help lead a new crew between the pipes as Jake the only keeper from last year to return to the 2023 squad. Coach Bingham will look to solidify the cage as soon as he can to help the preseason pick to keep with the pace of the pack.
The Rocky Mountain Lacrosse Conference Div-II will look a little different in 2023. Last year’s champion Utah has moved up to D-I. Southern Utah and Utah Tech will be newcomers to the conference’s Northwest division. Denver has also joined the conference, although will be in the Southeast division.
The 2022 Aggies advanced to nationals as an at-large and were picked as the preseason Division II champs. USU lost to Rhode Island, an eventual finalist in the first round in overtime. Utah State will not play in back-to-back conference games this year. The Ags will start on the road for their first four games, including their conference opener at SUU. The Aggies’ home opener will be on Friday, March 3 when they take on the Crusaders of Northwest Nazarene. The home slate will include St Johns in the 4-game home schedule.
**Indicates RMLC conference game
Feb 11: @ Utah Valley
Feb 17: @ College of Idaho
Feb 18: @ Boise State
Feb 25: @ Southern Utah**
Mar 3: vs Northwest Nazarene
Mar 4: vs Colorado Mines**
Mar 7: vs St Johns
Mar 17: @ Brigham Young
Mar 24: @ Wyoming
Mar 31: @ Northern Arizona
Apr 1: @ UC San Diego
Apr 7: @ Montana State**
Apr 8: @ Montana
Apr 14: vs Denver**
Apr 15: Utah
Utah Valley Men’s Lacrosse Preview by Dane Stewart
You know what they say, if you want to be the best, you’ve got the beat the best and the 2023 Wolverines will have the chance to do just that. UVU will have a 16 game schedule, with 10 of those games being against teams that finished ranked in the DI poll, including South Carolina, the defending MCLA DI Champion. Brian Barnhill starts his 8th season leading Utah Valley after leading the Wolverines to 9 wins, their most since 2019 and hopes to continue their trajectory upward in 2023.
And while the schedule will test these Wolverines, they’ll look for this young roster having only 3 Seniors, to step up and grow into new roles and skills. Utah Valley graduated its two top point contributors in 2022 in Chad Renslow and Preston Burbidge, but return Nathan Huntsman and Zack Fankhauser, both of whom were Top5 in points for UVU as Sophomores last year. Remington Peterson, a 3rd Team All-America has also moved on, so the defense will look for Patrick Fletcher to help anchor its defense. Also returning to the defense is Tommy Tuite and Seth Wilkins, but a few incoming Freshman can help deepen the corps, including local products Nate Delis (Olympus) and Cole Felis (Brighton).
Max Sturgill returns to help anchor the cage. Sturgill started 12 games last year posting a .571 save percentage. Preston Barrat and Marcus Gunderson return, while they’ll welcome in Freshman Thomas Fraser (Viewmont) and Canyon Curtis (Brighton). It’s a young, but talented group.
The Wolverines have added some great talent to the roster, including Zachary Bezzant who as a Senior at American Fork won 81% of his faceoffs. He’ll have to elevate his game to MCLA level to help replace departing Connor Boss and Austin Doyle, but he could have opportunities early to help the Wolverines. Taylor Bezzant will join his brother, along with 18 other Freshman from Utah including Porter Searle (Fremont), Mason Anderson and Jacob Lundin (Green Canyon).
The Wolverines just missed out on the RMLC tournament last year due to a tiebreaker, but expect to charge back to the postseason in 2023. Utah Valley received 1 first-place vote in the preseason coaches poll.
**Indicates RMLC conference game
Feb 11: vs Utah State
Feb 18: vs Westminster
Feb 24: @ NC State
Feb 25: @ South Carolina
Mar 3: @ Utah**
Mar 4: vs Oregon State
Mar 9: @ USC
Mar 11: @ Grand Canyon
Mar 16: vs Liberty
Mar 18: vs Santa Clara
Mar 29: vs Cal Poly
Apr 1: vs Boise State
Apr 8: vs Georgia Tech
Apr 15: @ Brigham Young**
Apr 20: vs Colorado State**
Apr 22: vs Colorado**
Utah MCLA D-1 Preview by Dane Stewart
While the University of Utah boasts the only NCAA Division I program in Utah, their MCLA Division II Championship program has taken a step up to MCLA D-I and will join the RMLC in 2023. Coach Kyler Banks, in just his second season will lead this transition for Utah, having led Utah to the D-II Championship in his first season.
Utah will bring a lot of their scoring talent with them in their rise to D1, including their leading goal scorer and points contributor Aidan Wallace. Trevor Douglis (25 assists to lead the team last year) and Owen Edwards (30 goal scorer last year) both return as well.
Jack Hindley was solid at the x last year, he’ll return to the new DI Utes. Defensively Connor Kuhl and John Zins, LSM’s will return for Utah, as do Abram Wilcox, Will Harvat and Hart Swan. Some needed depth was added to the defensive corps, including Freshman Caleb Rudd out of Jordan.
The largest question may be what to expect in cage. While the goal will look the same, 6x6, the players protecting it will be as new and fresh as the paint on the iron. Three Freshman will compete for the starting position, Charlie Reno (don’t let the name fool you, he’s from Illinois), Max Hove out of California and David Kraus from Virginia.
Utah will replace Texas in the RMLC Division I, joining Utah Valley, Colorado, Colorado State and Brigham Young in the division. The Utes will have to earn their respect, as they were picked by coaches to finish at the bottom of the division. Their home opener will also be the first divisional opponent and may tell a lot about what the Utes can accomplish this year.
**Indicates RMLC Conference game
Feb 18: @ Washington (in Los Angeles)
Feb 19: @ USC
Feb 24: @ Boise State
Mar 3: vs Utah Valley**
Mar 5: vs Oregon State
Mar 19: vs Santa Clara
Mar 24: @ Arizona State
Mar 25: @ Grand Canyon
Mar 26: vs Oregon (In Phoenix)
Apr 6: @ Colorado**
Apr 8: @ Colorado State**
Apr 11: vs Brigham Young**
Apr 15: vs Utah State
Apr 16: vs Denver
Layton High School by Kenzie Christiansen
First year Head Coach Kylee Cash is taking Layton Girls Lacrosse to the next level. With her knowledge of being a former athlete and student at Missouri Valley. Assisting her is Ashton Gold; is a former HS Laxer and now a defensive specialist and Rob Murdock who has coached boys lacrosse and is excited to transition into girls lacrosse while supporting his daughter.
There have been numerous changes at Layton lacrosse!! Starting with Layton HS first ever girls lacrosse JV team!! The Lancers are excited at the opportunity to have two competitive teams this year. “My goals for this year are for each player to personally improve and for Layton to be a strong competitor in our region and in the state. We are going to work hard here at Layton to bond as a team and continue growing the sport in Northern Utah.” Said Coach Cash.
Bingham High School by Kenzie Christiansen
At the helm of Bingham Lacrosse is Head Coach Courtney McCabe, assisting her is Kenadee Hatch (14+ playing experience, “First Team All-State”, USU alumni and coach at Utah Elevate), Kyra Lopez (Brighton alumni and1st year coach), Hannah Kelleher (Herriman High 2019 state Champ, “All-Region”, “All-Academic”, Westminster College and founder of MaxLax), Emmaline Russell (10+ playing experience, Westminster College and “Second Team Conference Defender”)
Head Coach McCabe graduated from the one and only Brighton High School! She continued her lacrosse career at Westminster College where she was a strong starting midfielder. She led her team as a captain her senior year, and was named “Rocky Mountain Conference Academic All-Conference”! McCabe is highly involved with the Utah Lacrosse community as she officiates high school, youth and is a US Lacrosse certified trainer for officials. McCabe was as outstanding head JV coach at Brighton from 2017-2020, coached with the highly competitive Wasatch LC from 2020-2021, and coached with Ignite in the Fall of 2022.
“With being new to Bingham High, we are bringing a brand new perspective. We only lost a handful of seniors and have a strong incoming freshman class to fill those big shoes. Bingham has a group of hard-working, skilled, and motivated girls. I see high potential in our team with the ability to compete in the state championship tournament among the top teams. From a coaching perspective, we truly have no comparison for a team dynamic and are aiming to come in with an unbiased lens. Our team's top priority is to demonstrate the most work ethic, sportsmanship, and supportive team culture. We believe that our team will reach its full potential when every athlete relies on their teammates to push each other. We want lacrosse to be a space where every player feels they have the most fun and knows their role within the team to be challenged. This mentality applies on and off the field as we want our players to not only be great athletes, but exceptional students, teammates, and members of their community. We have a rather challenging spring schedule and can't wait to face strong opponents! We are facing several teams outside of our region who were semi final contenders in the state tournament last season. Our team strongly believes that facing strong opponents makes us better players, and we are looking forward to some tight games. We are so excited to get the season started and look forward to seeing everyone on the field! Go Miners!” Stated Coach McCabe.
Coaching Clinic at IMLax in Murray.
For those interested in polishing their skills as a coach or for anyone who will be taking over for the first time, you can register via the IMLax Registration page here. Full schedules for the Girls and Boys clinics are located below.
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