South Charlotte

Country Day quickly gets to the top of local lacrosse scene

In lacrosse's second season as a N.C. sanctioned public high school sport, the south Charlotte area again stood out as one of the top regions in the state.

The South Charlotte area "lost a lot of great players to Division I schools," said Myers Park lacrosse coach Mike Gambrill. "But I didn't see a drop off in the talent amongst our teams. I think we had better overall teams. I think we are growing faster than any other area. Charlotte lacrosse has just scratched the surface of what it can be."

Charlotte Country Day already has established itself as a perennial power in the N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association, winning its fourth straight state title in the process.

"Tradition is a big part of our success," said Charlotte Country Day lacrosse coach Brad Touma, who has won nine state titles in his time with the Buccaneers. "We expect to have a chance to win a state championship every year."

Providence High was at the top among public schools, advancing to the state semifinals despite having 28 underclassmen on its 37-man squad.

Defending state champion Myers Park also made the playoffs, falling to eventual state champion Northwest Guilford in the second round after winning the Conference 11 title for the second year in a row.

Coach of the Year: Brad Touma, Charlotte Country Day. Touma has been the leader of the Country Day lacrosse program for 24 years. He said this year was just as satisfying as the eight other state championship seasons he has had.

"This group may have come further than any we've ever had here before," said Touma. "We had a lot of question marks coming into the season and lost a lot of talent to graduation. But they still lived up to the championship tradition we have established."

Championships under Touma are an expectation; the Bucs have now played in 19 straight state title games.

Boys Player of the Year: Thomas Passenant, Charlotte Country Day. At defender, Passenant doesn't play the most glamorous position, but the Charlotte Country Day senior is always one of the best players on the field.

This year, the all-state defender had 66 takeaways while controlling the tempo and transition game for his team.

"I think Thomas is one of the best players in the state, public or private," Touma said. "Every team immediately identifies No. 37 as the top player on the field, if they don't know already."

For Passenant, the end of his time at Country Day marks the beginning of his collegiate lacrosse career at Hofstra.