High School Lacrosse

2013 High School Lacrosse Preview: New coaches for Hilton Head Island, Bluffton

ccox@islandpacket.comFebruary 27, 2013 

Eight months ago, the Hilton Head Island High School athletics program tabbed Dennis Daly as its new boys lacrosse coach.

No one would have known it judging by the last week.

"I've been inside more this year than I've ever been," Daly said Tuesday. "It's a little difficult to see how, as a team, we're going to transition from being on a basketball court to going out to a field."

The weather hasn't been as cooperative with the new Seahawks coach as much as his team has been. The rains have forced Hilton Head High indoors since last week's season opener against Savannah Christian and washed out Daly's home debut against Dorman on Saturday, a game the new coach desperately wanted to play in order to learn more about his group.

"Our team is still an unknown to us in competition," he said. "We play the scrimmages as scrimmages. We asked the kids to play with an intensity to win, but we weren't playing to win. We were playing to find out about ourselves.

"We've been off the field since Thursday. ... We haven't even run 110 yards. It's just been so long."

He'll learn more about his new club Wednesday night, when the Hilton Head High boys and girls teams square off in a doubleheader against rival Bluffton beginning at 5:30 p.m. The games also will give fans a first glimpse at new Hilton Head High girls coach Kathleen Marshall and Bluffton boys coach Herman Kramer, whose Bobcats opened up the season with a 22-2 loss to Academic Magnet last Wednesday.

Here's what Daly does know about his team: The Seahawks (1-0) must replace All-American and S.C. Midfielder of the Year Nick Bautista, who netted 37 goals, 64 points and 60 ground balls a year ago while leading Hilton Head High to the Lower State final against Wando.

Daly plans on doing so with a more-balanced, spread-out offense, featuring veteran attacker Nate Jones (59 goals, 77 points in 2012) and midfielders Thomas Farrell (36 goals, 39 points) and Robert Moody. He also returns a stout defense, led by all-state sophomore Thomas Kirby, and senior goalkeeper Madison Gayle, who retained his starting spot after a spirited preseason battle.

"The kids have been great," Daly said. "They're busting their butt, coming together and they're making sacrifices for the good of the team. I like what I've seen so far. I would like to play all of our games. We want to find out what we need to do to get better."

The same could be said for the area's three other teams. Bluffton girls coach Dani Tosky is now the area's most tenured coach, as longtime Hilton Head High coaches Joe Monmonier and Meg Hendy stepped away last season. The pair spent a combined 20 years with the Seahawks and won a total of 137 games between them.

The Bobcats, meanwhile, are looking to build on a new foundation in 2013. Tosky is tasked with getting the girls program back to the postseason for a fourth consecutive year while Kramer is hoping to get the boys team back into the playoffs for the first time in three seasons. Bluffton failed to win a game last year and lost a pair of blowouts to Hilton Head High.

On Wednesday night, the Bobcats will get a chance to erase their misfortunes from a year ago.

"They're trying to grow their program," Daly said. "Herman Kramer is doing a great job over there. I think, at this point in the season, we're just a bit more experienced and a little bit stronger. I've heard very, very good things about what he's doing from the discipline of the team and the hustle of the team.

"But I think if we go out there and play well ... I think we're the better team. I don't know how that will manifest itself on the field. We have to go play the game."

2013 HIGH SCHOOL LACROSSE TEAM CAPSULES

Bluffton High boys

Coach: Herman Kramer, first year

2012 results: 0-12, 34th in South Carolina

Coaching staff: Matt Novosel

Prognosis: Kramer wants to develop a "fundamentally sound, competitive program," but will do so in 2013 with a relatively young roster. The Bobcats are looking to rebound in Kramer's first season and make a return to the playoffs, which they have missed in each of the last two seasons.

Hilton Head Island High boys

Coach: Dennis Daly, first year

2012 record: 10-5, lost to Wando in the playoff semifinals

Coaching staff: John Farrenkopf, Andy Stringer

Notable personnel losses: Nick Bautista, Justin Shaw

Top returning starters: GK Madison Gayle, D Justin Wan, MF Robert Moody, A Nate Jones, D Andrew Kirby, MF Thomas Farrell

Key newcomers: GK Sam Jones, MF Chase Rhinehart, MF Layton Kirby, A Bentley Moore

Prognosis: First-year coach Dennis Daly has a wealth of experience returning from a Seahawks team that reached the final four last season, but he does so without arguably last year's top player, Nick Bautista. He was a first-team all-state player a year ago and won the state's Midfielder of the Year honor after recording 37 goals, 27 assists, 64 points and 60 ground balls a year ago. Stepping into his shoes is junior Nate Jones, an attacker who tallied 59 goals, 18 assists, 77 points and 40 ground balls last season. He was a second-team all-state performer as a sophomore and will look to replicate his numbers as the Seahawks shoot for another trip to the Lower State final.

Bluffton High girls

Coach: Dani Tosky, second year (7-7 overall)

2012 record: 7-7, lost to Bishop England in first round of playoffs

Notable personnel losses: D Taylor Cocuzza

Top returning starters: MF Katie Sills, G Talley Young, A Madison Aust, D Shelby Ludwig

Key newcomers: MF Devon Espinoza, A Megan Laseter

Coach's prognosis: "If we can bring together the talent we do have with the newcomers and continue our drive and motivation," Tosky said, "then I see Bluffton returning to (the) playoffs and growing to become very successful."

Hilton Head Island High girls

Coach: Kathleen Marshall, first year

2012 record: 9-5, lost to Blythewood in first round of playoffs

Coaching staff: Nicki Bruno, Billie Marshall and Ken Kendrick

Notable personnel losses: Morgan Raffaele, Elaine Natoli, Jenna Sheeran

Top returning starters: D Maddie Campbell, M Carson Kendrick, A Abby Ogden

Prognosis: The Seahawks not only must replace coach Meg Hendy, who compiled 79 wins in her 14 years with the program, but three veteran starters who led the team a year ago. Goalkeeper Morgan Raffaele is now at Newberry while defensive wings Elaine Natoli and Jenna Sheeran also depart. New coach Kathleen Marshall will lean on a trio of veterans -- Maddie Campbell, Carson Kendrick and Abby Ogden -- to keep the team afloat as it pushes for another postseason bid.

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