High School Boys

December 30, 2008

Ode to '08: Headliners

This article highlighting the figures who helped shape the year in lacrosse, appears in the December issue of Lacrosse Magazine. LM is a US Lacrosse publication available exclusively to its members. Join today to start your monthly subscription.


James Hendrick, a goalie at Fletcher (Fla.), was  struck by a shot and collapsed in a game on Feb. 27. Fletcher was revived with an AED, returned to play in the season, and  visited US Lacrosse in May to film a public service announcement about AEDs.

The year marked somewhat of a tale of two halves for Grant, who earned National Lacrosse League All-Star honors with the Rochester Knighthawks and then his second straight Major League Lacrosse Player of the Year award with the Rochester Rattlers, whom he led to their first MLL championship. Did we mention he led the MLL in scoring for a second straight year? But as summer gave way to fall, a complex infection in his elbow and knee forced Grant to undergo three surgeries -- the last of which removed the ACL in his left knee. Grant will miss the 2009 NLL season.

The West Chester senior attacker had one milestone wrapped up -- all-time scoring leader in NCAA Division II history. But the one she wanted, a national championship, had eluded her by a single game in her first three seasons. Kienle made the most of her final opportunity, scoring three goals to lift the Golden Rams to their long-awaited NCAA title with a 13-12 win over defending champ C.W. Post.

Many wondered what Greer, the NCAA's all-time goal scorer, would do with the extra year of athletic eligibility granted to non-senior members of the 2006 Duke lacrosse team. Stay at Duke and try to get over the Hopkins hump for an NCAA title? Transfer somewhere north to play hockey? In August, Greer did transfer, enrolling at Bryant to be reunited with former Duke coach Mike Pressler. With the school in the process of moving up to Division I, Greer will not have the opportunity to win a national championship due to NCAA policy. But he'll get ample opportunities to increase his career goal total of 206 (Gary Gait ranks second with 192) against D-I rivals, including tournament teams Loyola, Maryland and Virginia.

Hill, an All-America midfielder on Onondaga Community College's NJCAA championship teams in 2006-07, was charged April 30 with the murder of his pregnant ex-girlfriend, Tashina General. General went missing from the Six Nations Reserve in late January. Her disappearance sparked aerial and dog searches on both sides of the U.S.-Canada border. Her remains were found near Hill's home, on property owned by his father.

There was no doubt Gait would make news in '08 -- it's the how that came as somewhat of a surprise. The Hall of Famer returned to alma mater Syracuse as new coach of the women's team, and promptly guided the Orange to the Big East Conference championship and first-ever trip to the NCAA semifinals. Save for two games against Northwestern, Syracuse's offense proved as dynamic as suspected under the tutelage of one of the game's greatest scorers -- who's apparently not done scoring on his own. In October, Gait came out of retirement in the National Lacrosse League, and with his rights traded from Colorado to Rochester, he'll suit up as a Knighthawk for the 2009 season at age 41.

Spencer had built Fairfield into an NCAA tournament contender over a 13-year period. Diagnosed with neck cancer in late 2007, Spencer fought off the affliction and returned to the sidelines in 2008. But perhaps the toughest pill he had to swallow came over the summer, when he opted to accept an administrative position in the athletic department after his coaching contract was not renewed.

These two high school players survived, thanks to quick action by first responders and the proximity of automated external defibrillators (AEDs), separate incidents of commotio cordis. In the process, they drew needed attention to risk management at athletic events, specifically having an AED available at game and practice sites. Beuris, a defenseman at Cardinal Gibbons (N.C.), was struck in the chest by a shot against Providence Day (N.C.) on April 19. Three doctors in attendance rushed to his aid, administering CPR and the school's AED to restore a normal heart rhythm. Hendrick, a goalie at Fletcher (Fla.), was similarly struck and collapsed in a game on Feb. 27. Fletcher was equipped with an AED, although paramedics arrived in time to use a more advanced device. Fletcher later returned to play in the season, and he visited US Lacrosse in May to film a public service announcement about AEDs and the organization's alliance with AED manufacturer Cardiac Science.

What a difference a year makes, let alone two. In his second year at Bryant after his much-publicized departure from Duke, Pressler guided the Bulldogs to a school-record 14 wins and their first-ever appearance in the NCAA tournament. In September, he was named head coach of the 2010 U.S. team that will compete for the Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) World Championship in Manchester, England. Pressler called it "the greatest honor of my professional career."

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