It is both an end of an era and a new beginning at St. Mary's Ryken.
The Knights will have senior Tyler Sothoron, son of Coach John Sothoron, in goal for one last season. Tyler is the third Sothoron son to start in goal for Ryken.
"I've already coached Larry and Curley," John Sothoron said. "This one's Moe."
Tyler is a three-year starter for the Knights (17-2 last year). He had more than 200 saves and a .710 save percentage last year. He also had three shutouts.
Sothoron's oldest son, Jay, was a junior college all-American goalie in the mid-1990s and played at Greensboro (N.C.) College. Middle son Reed is a sophomore and starting goalie at Towson University.
Tyler, who plans to play for Virginia Wesleyan next fall, could eclipse Jay's Ryken career record of 420 saves with another strong season this year.
Tyler will have to play well, though, because St. Mary's Ryken saw 10 top seniors graduate last year. Sothoron and senior defenseman Eddie Krupa will lead the defense, and senior midfielder Lee Moreland (15 goals, six assists last year) and junior attackman Dustin Harlowe (27 goals, 14 assists) will lead the offense.
The Knights face a challenge to match last year's success, which included victories over traditionally strong Bullis School and Washington Catholic Athletic Conference opponents Bishop Ireton, Bishop O'Connell and Paul VI Catholic. Their losses were to St. Albans and Georgetown Prep.
St. Mary's Ryken has joined the WCAC as a provisional member this year, though it is not eligible for the league playoffs. The move means the Knights will play all of the conference teams in the regular season, including traditionally strong DeMatha (April 10) and Gonzaga (May 6). Out of conference, they play St. Albans on Tuesday and Bullis on April 19.
"We'll play every team in the regular season, and we'll see how we do," John Sothoron said. "We're thrilled; I think it's fantastic. The competition is awfully strong.. . . . This team may be young, but they haven't been scared to work. I'm pleased they showed me that."
Tyler Sothoron is not the only strong goaltender in Southern Maryland. Senior and four-year starting goalie Bart Rogers is back for Leonardtown (12-5). Rogers had 274 saves last year, including 25 saves in a 12-9 loss to Annapolis in the state tournament.
"He's been working pretty much year round. When we go to play indoors, he's always there," Great Mills Coach John Kopicko said. "He's pretty strong. I don't think he's put his stick down since last season ended."
Attackman Matthew Rogers (34 goals, 25 assists) also is back for the Raiders.
Northern (10-5) senior attackman Scott Boutaugh is back after leading the SMAC with 76 points (40 goals, 36 assists). Last season was Boutaugh's first as a starter, though he had shown promise as a sophomore, scoring four goals in three games.
Patuxent (9-6) also has a strong attack back. Junior Paul Rudell had a SMAC-leading 51 goals and added 15 assists. Senior Jacob Truhlar had 42 goals and 18 assists, and junior Tim Sinclair had 24 goals and 35 assists.
"Our three starting attackmen form the only line on the team that stayed intact," Coach Vic Goeller said. "Jacob had an impressive year last year. Tim is a very unselfish player who had a breakthrough season, and Paul has 109 points in two years."
The defense will be led by junior Kyle Fancher, who led the junior varsity last year, converted midfielder Henry Zion and Charlie Zellmer, a first-year player.
Calvert (4-11) has sophomore All-Extra attackman Ben Ganley back. Ganley had 21 goals, 17 assists and 86 ground balls for the Cavaliers last season.
Calverton (2-11) has roughly 60 boys in its high school, and 25 of them play lacrosse. The most notable are senior midfielder Mike Sanders (10 goals), junior midfielder Jesse Hammett (team-high 21 goals) and junior defenseman Peter Trentmen. Coach Jonathan Montes has added a more complex offense from last year.
"I can guarantee we will be much better this year," Montes said. "We're a small school, but we're not going to let that be an impediment. We're trying to build a tradition here. . . . . We've changed our offense; we were a little simplistic last year. This year we can do more things."
With that in mind, Montes said he will rely on seven freshmen, including attackman David Spaulding and midfielder John Brozena.