Cardinal Gibbons (19-2) has won three straight N.C. High School Athletic Association boys lacrosse championships but lost a core of seniors who had a big hand in all three titles.
Adam Barry, Zach Niemi and Anthony Digirolamo are the team’s top returning scorers, while Chris Wozencroft is the returning N&O Player of the Year.
Cap-8/Greater Neuse 4A
Teams: Broughton, Enloe, Garner, Heritage, Leesville Road, Millbrook, Rolesville, Sanderson, Wake Forest, Wakefield.
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Broughton (17-1), the reigning conference champ, will be tough on defense with Lane Tourtellot and Edward Huffstetler defending and Parrish Hinton in goal. David Liggett, Wells Barefoot, Sam Stein, Van Parker and Nick Cattano ensure the Caps will be good across the board.
Leesville Road (14-5) loses a lot of talent from last year’s team. Wakefield (12-6) has a new coach in Derin Vacca but, like Heritage (9-9) returns most of last year’s team.
Millbrook (12-7) is led by top returning scorer Alec Lademann (29 goals).
Garner (2-14) has new co-coaches Dan Burch and Jacob Smith. The Trojans are led by Bailey Benjamin (32 goals) on offense and on defense by Randall Schindler.
Southwest Wake 4A
Teams: Apex, Apex Friendship, Athens Drive, Cary, Fuquay-Varina, Green Hope, Holly Springs, Middle Creek, Panther Creek.
The Triangle’s most grueling conference is breaking apart after this season.
Apex (17-2) won the conference with Middle Creek (16-4), Green Hope (13-6) and Holly Springs (14-5) not far behind.
Apex is led by midfielder Justin Freeman, goalie Patrick Sasser and super sophomores Preston Lalicker and Christian Cechini.
Middle Creek is loaded with experience in Owen Caputo (73 goals), Jake Caputo, Charlie Doetzer, A.J. King, Jared Medwar and Keith Phillips.
Green Hope is led by Aiden Callahan (55 goals) and goalie Conor Ryan.
Holly Springs has a strong senior class led by Cam Roberts, Caleb Ferguson, Nathan Garland and the versatile Tommy Farlow.
Athens Drive (9-9), now under coach Tom Wetherby, is led by faceoff specialist Chris Silver and attacker Bobby Padden (60 goals). Chris Alcorn, Gabe Grew, Nate Randolph and Max Piechottka add experience to the young team.
Apex Friendship (1-15) welcomes veteran coach Jamie Sliwa to a team with no senior class. Hunter Vaughan (19 goals) and Zach Mullins (25 goals) lead the returners while Treven King (28 goals) transferred in from Fuquay-Varina.
Teams: Cardinal Gibbons, East Chapel Hill, Jack Britt, Jordan, Northern Durham, Pinecrest and Riverside.
Gibbons (19-2) finds itself in a league with one brand new programs – Jack Britt – and few challengers outside of East Chapel Hill (11-6).
East Chapel Hill’s Aidan Clark had 23 goals. Jordan (5-14) has one of the league’s best players in Tyler Thompson (175 groundballs).
Northern Durham (5-10) hopes for a winning season with Chad Jeffries, goalie Sam Harding, Dorian Thorpe, Brandon Lee, Abraham Palomo leading the senior class.
Teams: Carrboro, Cedar Ridge, Chapel Hill, J.F. Webb, Northern Vance, Northwood, Orange, Roxboro Community, Southern Durham, Voyager Academy.
With 10 teams in this league, everyone is only guaranteed to play each other once.
Carrboro (15-2) was the state runner-up last year after downing Cedar Ridge (15-4) in the 1A/2A/3A East final.
Chapel Hill, Northwood and Orange are also good enough to make a run to the championship.
Chapel Hill returns St. Joseph’s recruit Sean Voelkel (45 goals), Duncan Tart, Jake Johnson and Ben Gleiter.
Northwood returns All-Metro pick Wesley Roberson, but he’s got plenty of help. Dylan Hamer, Johnny Robbins, Tanner Althoff, Lars Hoeg, John Terzotis, Nate Little, Quin Rooze and Riley Koch give the Chargers plenty of experience.
Southern Durham and Voyager Academy are in their first varsity seasons.
Ravenscroft (17-2) won the N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association Division I championship last season. Durham Academy (11-8) was the 2014 runner-up.
St. David’s (9-4) made the NCISAA DII playoffs and only graduated four seniors. Attacker Owen Williams and goalie Troy Exum lead the returning players.
J.H. Rose (8-9), which is in Conference 2 with teams from the Outer Banks, greater New Bern and Jacksonville areas, got 42 goals from Wesley Carroll.