The road to the postseason has been less than smooth for the Wildcats (14-2, 6-0 in Area 2AAAAA-A as of last Friday), however, as injuries have wreaked havoc on their starting lineup.
Two of the injured starters — junior attacker Blake Davis and senior defender Michael Taylor — are still out after missing most of the season with concussions.
Westminster assistant coach Kevin Hudson said the Wildcats have been able to prosper through all of the injuries with a number of younger players coming off the bench to successfully fill in the gaps.
“When your starters are injured, it gives less experienced players the opportunity to step up and that’s been kind of the story this year,” Hudson said. “Some younger players who may not have seen as much game time have had an opportunity to show us what they have and they’ve done a great job.”
Westminster is the top-ranked team in the state in the latest laxpower.com poll. The Wildcats are also ranked seventh in the Southeast in the StudentSports poll and 10th regionally in the Inside Lacrosse rankings.
The Wildcats feature a roster that includes six college commitments — junior defender Charlie Trense (Notre Dame), junior goalkeeper William Hudson (Holy Cross), junior midfielder Cole Haverty (Air Force), junior attacker Trip Raye (Lafayette), sophomore attacker Logan Devereaux (Loyola of Baltimore) and senior midfielder Read Ziegler (NCAA Division III school Franklin and Marshall).
“It’s pretty unprecedented,” Hudson said. “It’s very exciting to see these boys commit to play college [lacrosse] at an early age.”
Westminster is particularly strong in the midfield, with Ziegler, Haverty, junior Harrison Fiveash and sophomore John Farley leading the way.
“We have a lot of depth in the midfield this year,” Hudson said. “We have two midfield lines of very strong players who can go offensively and defensively, so that helps really elevate the pace of a game and push the pace of a game quite a bit.”
Goalkeeper Hudson and sophomore Raines Shamburger are among the key players of an outstanding defensive unit that has allowed only about four goals a game this season.
“The traditional strength at Westminster has always been our defense,” Hudson said. “That allows us to settle in and run our offense when we have a strong defense.”
As Westminster now begins the final stage of its quest to defend its AAAAA-A title, Hudson said the team is ready to go.
“Going into the playoffs, our prospects are good,” he said. “We have a young, but experienced team — a team that is heavily weighted towards juniors and sophomores with a few senior leaders. [Head coach] Tony Souza does a great job of coaching the team and helping it improve throughout the season so we peak in the playoffs and that’s the way it looks like this year.
“This has been a very positive team this year. We’ve got great chemistry from the seniors through the sophomores and I think we’re very enthusiastic about our prospects to repeat as state champions.”