The Centennial Knights are off to an 8-1 start, good for a No. 3 ranking in both the AJC’s 6A-7A poll and LaxPower.com’s Georgia RPI rankings. Their only loss came at the hands of Lambert, the No. 1 overall team in the state. A few weeks later, they beat No. 6 Pope — which holds a No. 4 RPI ranking — on the road in overtime.
As the Knights prepare to take on No. 5 Lassiter (5-1) on Tuesday, AJC lacrosse beat writer Adam Krohn spoke with Knights head coach Bryan Wallace about the team’s season thus far.
Krohn: What’s the biggest difference between this year’s team and last season’s? (The Knights finished 2016 with a 17-3 record, reaching the AAAAAA quarterfinals.)
Wallace: Not a whole lot, to be honest. We have more seniors this year (12). Last year we had three. This year, we have a nice veteran group of three-, four-year varsity starters.
K: Talk about your upcoming match with Lassiter.
W: I was fortunate enough to be there for a year (Wallace was an assistant at Lassiter before becoming Centennial’s coach in 2012) and I know that program well, know some of the kids who are seniors now when they were younger. They have a handful of (college) committed kids. We’re definitely looking to right the ship with them after they beat us last year in the quarterfinals. This game means a lot to our seniors as far as a statement game. They’re a quality program and they’re strong across the board. We’re not looking past them.
K: What are the team’s plans during spring break?
W: We’re heading to Palm Beach to play St. Andrew’s and Oxbridge Academy. St. Andrew’s is traditionally one of the best teams in the state. I think they have around 25 state titles. And then Oxbridge is strong too. Both of those teams have double-digit wins. We’ll take a 10-12 hour bus ride down and play St. Andrew’s on Friday, then Oxbridge on Saturday. We’ll stay down there for spring break.
(St. Andrew’s, 12-3, holds a No. 4 RPI ranking in Florida on LaxPower.com; Oxbridge Academy, 11-4, is ranked No. 25.)
K: What are the team’s takeaways from the loss to Lambert?
W: That was an early contest (played Feb. 28) and a good challenge to see where we are. We used to play in the same area and compete for the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds for the playoffs every year. They’re a quality program with good coaches and a lot of (college) committed kids. We learned a lot about ourselves from that game. They’re a very complete team and we were still kind of putting the puzzle pieces together.
K: You guys were able to post a big win in overtime over Pope a few weeks later. Talk about that.
W: Pope is a very good team with a big senior group, an athletic group, and for us to come in there and come back and steal a win — we did what we needed to do. It was a close game. We were always within one or two goals of them, but they led the entire way until Nicky Solomon scored the tying goal in regulation, and then the game-winner in overtime. That was the only time we led.
K: You mentioned you have a number of players who will play at the next level. Who are they?
W: Nicky Solomon (junior attacker), North Carolina; Ryan Siracusa (sophomore attacker), Maryland; Eric Cecere (senior goalie), Sienna; Mack Dickie (senior defenseman), Jacksonville; Jake Able (senior defenseman), North Greenville; Jeremy Sartin (senior midfielder), Utah; Luke Sadd (senior midfielder), Mercer.