The tradition very much continued.
Cathedral High School’s boys lacrosse program in 2018 continued to do what it has done through much of the last decade: Build a program that will contend for state titles over the long term.
“If 2018 doesn’t result in a state championship it will result in us looking back and saying it was a year that was built to win multiple [future] championships; we’re very confident in that,” longtime coach Andy Gruber said shortly before end of a ’18 regular season that featured a young, underclass-dominated Irish team.
The Irish, who won the Indiana High School Lacrosse Association state title in 2016 and 2017, sustained big graduation losses from the ‘17 team. The 2018 season featured a smaller senior class, a core of juniors and sophomore class that featured 10 key contributors.
The Irish in 2018 continued the approach that has helped them develop into an elite program, playing one of the toughest regular-season schedules in the Midwest, with the idea being to play the best possible competition entering the postseason.
That sometimes results in losses to out-of-state teams early in the season, but also prepares the Irish for a difficult Indiana postseason.
The Irish in 2018 went 4-8 against out-of-state teams with the lone regular-season losses to in-state teams coming by one goal to Hamilton Southeastern (12-11) and Carmel (7-6).
“We did OK out of state, probably not as good as we wanted,” Gruber said. “We had some quality wins. There were a lot of teams in the Midwest who would have traded places with us.
“It’s not like there’s an ease-in where we can get momentum against some of the easier teams. We dropped some teams from Indiana and increased our competition. It’s not an easy trek. In the long run, the goal remains the same – to win a state championship. We put ourselves in a position to do that again this year.”
A highlight of the early season: a 10-9 victory over Cincinnati (Oh.) Moeller, the Irish’s fifth consecutive victory over the perennial Ohio power.
“That win showed what we can do,” Gruber said.
The Irish were among the state’s top programs through the regular season and entered the postseason with one of the IHLSA’s top rating percentages.
A significant regular-season game came on May 18, when the Irish played longtime rival Carmel in the regular-season finale. The Irish lost 7-6 in a game that often has served as a preview of the state final and it appeared at the time that could be the case again.
The Irish beat Carmel for the state title the past two seasons, and have won the title three of the last five seasons. The Irish and Carmel have played for the state title the last seven seasons and the Irish also have played in 10 state finals.
Gruber entering the 2018 season expected the underclassmen to be strong, and they were. The Irish in 2018 were led by sophomore attackers Matthew Dennen (17 goals, 15 assists) John Petruzzi (18 goals, eight assists) and Nicholas LoPresti (15 goals, 16 assists).
Among the key seniors was defender Max Wirth. Senior midfielder Kevin Kolb also was key, registering 20 goals and eight assists.
The Irish also got strong performances from a solid junior class, with a rib/kidney injury to junior midfielder Richie Krolewski early in the season costing him much of the season.
Senior goaltender and third-year starter Brock Snyder – the CHS valedictorian for 2018 – also was key to a defense that Gruber said was led by junior defenders Lucas Carrico, Noah Gruber, Ryan Stiffler and junior midfielders Jim Maher and Tanner Dunwoody in the midfield.
“You’re going to have to build teams in different ways over the course of multiple years,” Gruber said. “We’re no different in that respect. We’ve taken the program now in our 18th season to a startup in the middle of Indianapolis to a program generally known as a powerhouse in the Midwest. We have that reputation all over, which is pretty cool and fun to be able to say hat.
“We’ve bene through this rodeo before as a coaching staff. We know with more detailed work and some more focus these guys are going to grow and we know what we have do over the course of the next year to improve. Moving ahead it’s going to be a fun several years for Cathedral lacrosse. It’s going to be fun to see how all of those classes mesh and create a great environment for kids to play on the hill.”
Editor’s note: Because of printer deadlines, the postseason results of the Cathedral boys lacrosse team were unavailable at press time. For information on the Irish’s postseason boys lacrosse results for 2018, please visit gocathedral.com.