Spotlight on St. Ignatius Prep Wildcats (California)

By Brett Manney

The St. Ignatius Prep lacrosse program does not rebuild, it reloads. Despite losing four Division I players to graduation last season, the Wildcats return some savvy veterans and blossoming underclassmen to form one of California's most dominant squads.

St. Ignatius has been a power in the Golden State for many years, and, according to first year head coach Chris Packard, the tradition will not likely change anytime soon.

"There are huge expectations every year at St. Ignatius," Packard said. "Without a playoff in California, the team's goal is to be undefeated. We as a coaching staff expect them to set their goals high."

Even with a difficult schedule, Packard is confident that his team can build off of the success from last year. In '08, the Wildcats finished the season 19-1 overall and ended up as LaxPower's No. 1 team in California, even with the most difficult strength of schedule in the entire state.

Packard believes that winning the tough games away from home will be the biggest challenges of the season. This year, the Wildcats will face serious tests in Foothill, La Costa Canyon and De LaSalle on the road, plus Mullen (CO), Monte Vista/Danville and Bellarmine Prep at home.

La Costa Canyon features LaxPower Western Region Player to Watch selection Spencer Peterson, a Duke recruit. The match-up on March 20 features two of the most talented teams on the West Coast battling for bragging rights. The squads finished first and second, respectively, in the final LaxPower California standings in '08.

Meanwhile, the Stevenson School, located in Pebble Beach, will host the Wildcats in one of LaxPower's Western Region Games to Watch. The Wildcats should expect a tough battle against a Stevenson team that returns more than half of its starters.

"Stevenson is an excellent team and should be a great test," Packard said. "It has been a rivalry game for over a decade, and they are tough to play on their grass field."

Although the schedule ahead for the Wildcats appears rocky, the squad is armed with plenty of firepower. Led by Will Fredericks, one of LaxPower's Western Region Players to Watch, the Wildcats are equipped with one of the best finishers in the nation. The 6-4, 205-pound attack is a Loyola recruit and heads a talented core of players that will be counted on to step up in '09.

"I have watched him turn into a goal scorer," Packard said. "He has a knack for scoring and fits in to the system very well. The beauty is that his work ethic sets a precedence."

Packard's team also features six Division I recruits, including standout midfielder Rob Emery, a Virginia recruit, plus Kevin Downs, Billy Mattimore, Carlton Fisher, and Nick Miller.

It's evident that a reloaded St. Ignatius team will once again be in the hunt for the prize of being crowned as the Golden State's top team in '09. With Packard, Fredericks Emery and company at the helm, it's easy to see why the bar is set so high.



You can reach Brett Manney at brett.manney@activenetwork.com.

2009-03-10



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