Notre Dame Prep lacrosse wins back-to-back state titles, eyes dynasty

The Notre Dame Prep lacrosse team celebrates with the trophy after defeating Salpointe Catholic Friday, May 4 in the state championship. (Photo Courtesy of Mike Harvey/Peak Image Photo)

It’s only taken two years for the Notre Dame Preparatory lacrosse team to establish itself atop Arizona high school lacrosse and the whispers of a dynasty are already growing.

The Saints won their second consecutive Arizona Lacrosse League Division I state title after defeating Salpointe Catholic High School 11–6 Friday, May 4 at Corona del Sol High School in Tempe.

Lacrosse isn’t an Arizona Interscholastic Association-approved sport so participating schools play in the Arizona Lacrosse League in two divisions.

“It’s the best thing I could imagine, going out with as back-to-back state champs,” senior Quinn Stanton said in a May 9 interview. “I can’t wait to see what these younger guys do moving forward.”

In the past two years, NDP has dominated the lacrosse landscape. It has only lost once in that span — earlier this season to Salpointe — and has boasted a fiery offense (second-most goals scored in 2018) and a stingy defense (least goals allowed in 2018) throughout.

Senior midfielder Quinn Stanton (2). (Photo Courtesy of Mike Harvey/Peak Image Photo)

Assistant coach Marc Siegel said he and head coach Doug Lipka have been with the team for five years. The Saints struggled with sub .500 records in 2016 and 2015.

Then in 2017, NDP burst forth with an undefeated record and its first state championship. Coach Siegel said the explosion in 2017 wasn’t a surprise to him because he knew the talent that was coming.

Junior Zack Siegel said winning the back-to-back titles felt really good and he’s excited for the team’s prospects moving forward.

“We’re really just looking forward to getting that three-peat,” he said. “This is just the beginning of a dynasty.”

Before the Saints reached the finals, they had to navigate what Coach Siegel called a difficult schedule so the team “wouldn’t have any letdowns.”

That schedule included several out-of-state programs from California, New Jersey and Oregon. It also included in-state powerhouses such as Desert Vista and Boulder Creek high schools.

To get ready for this daunting gauntlet, Coach Siegel said he and Coach Lipka tried to make practices harder than games so that games are easier than practices and the team can play more fluidly.

Practices had competitive drills that ran full-speed, similar to games. Each drill, Coach Siegel said, would have winners and losers with consequences for the losers and rewards for the winners.

Junior Jake Smith said tough practices were a key ingredient in what makes the Saints so good.

“We work harder than any team in the state,” he said. “Coach Doug Lipka pushes us more than any other coach in the state, I guarantee you that.”

Another result of these grueling practices was a physical and athletic team. Stanton said NDP had a reputation of playing physically and overwhelmingly but not trash talking, just on-field dominance.

“I think it’s great being the team that everybody wants to beat from the start of the season,” he said. “I hope that carries on for years.”

Junior defensemen Zack Siegel (14) (Photo Courtesy of Mike Harvey/Peak Image Photo)

While NDP has been punishing opposing teams and working through tough practices, junior Josh Calvin said the team has grown together to build a solid chemistry.

Calvin said this chemistry is a big part of the team’s success because it helps the team move the ball smoothly and quickly while communicating well.

Many of these student-athletes have played together for a long time, Siegel said. Many of them are multi-sport athletes who play together on other teams.

“We play for the guy next to us and we really look out for each other,” he said. “It’s not an ‘I’ thing, it’s a ‘we’ thing. We’re all a team.”

That chemistry will have a chance to continue as the Saints will return a good chunk of their team. Calvin said he is excited about what is to come.

“We have a lot of returning good guys, some good guys are pulling up and getting better,” he said. “I really don’t expect any less next year.”

Though the Saints lose nine seniors to graduation, they will return 12 juniors next season. Coach Siegel calls those juniors the core of the team and they have a lot of potential to further their already talented skills.

“Hopefully, people think everybody left and take us lightly,” he said. “I doubt that will happen because we have a target on our backs and we wouldn’t have it any other way.”

News Services Reporter Josh Martinez can be contacted at jmartinez@newszap.com or at 623-445-2738

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