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2014 ULA Boys D-II AA Preview

Jordan Ikeda West Lacrosse
Jordan Ikeda

The season is just days away and we will kick off our previews with the newly formed ULA Boys D-II AA Conference. It is a conference of its own for teams who are trying to build a steady program. The top two teams in the conference will have a play-in game with the two lowest seeds from the D-II conferences for a chance to be in the official bracket for the playoffs.
There are 5 teams in the D-II AA conference this season: Idaho Falls, Murray, Summit Academy, West and Westlake. Idaho Falls, West and Murray had rough 2013 seasons and will hope to rebound this year. Summit Academy spent 2013 as a JV only team and will be anxious to compete at the Varsity level. Westlake is a new team this season with a handful of players from Lehi.

Jordan Ikeda West Lacrosse
Jordan Ikeda
We talked with West Head Coach Cory Merrell about his 2014 team.
ULN: Who do you expect to be a stand out player this coming season?
CM: Jordan Ikeda, one of the only 4 year players on my team.  He has shown great improvement from his Junior to Senior year.
ULN: Who is returning to the team that fans may not know but should?
CM: Jordan Ikeda – lead the offense from the midfield. Kent Bendixen – 2nd year player that has filled in very nicely at midfield. Raphael Chanut – 4 year goalie that will look to be the anchor on defense. Jackson West – only Senior defender
ULN: What is the difference between this years team and last years team?
CM: We have lost our leading scorer to an ACL injury (Zach Wolfe) so we have to move some attack to the midfield.  We have very good captains and leaders this season.  We are also very thin with 26 players total between varsity and JV.
ULN: What else should we know about your team?
CM: We have a new assistant coach Nick Merrell and two transfers from Judge that are sophomores.
We also talked with Steve Nelson who is the head coach at Westlake.
ULN: Who do you expect to be a stand out player this coming season?
SN: Zach Billman and Erik Jones are no-nonsense players on attack who puts their nose to the grindstone and just get the job done.  They’re a one-two punch who lead by example and Zach is our only senior starter on varsity. Tyler Richards is a gritty faceoff guy who brings his hardhat and lunch pail to work every day at practice. He’ll put in work at the faceoff-x and on both sides of the field. Jake Tippetts and Austin Whiting are guys that have rare speed and stick skills as long poles and could probably play at any position on the field.  They’re both Freshmen and I’m looking forward to having them for the next four years. The Isaacson brothers, Nate and Ethan, are big heart guys who lift our team up.  They keep the team moving and motivated.
ULN: What is the biggest challenge you will face in conference play this year?
SN: A lot of our players haven’t played together before and we’re establishing a new identity because we’re a new program.  All of the teams that we’ll be facing in conference have played together in some capacity before, and we simply have a LOT of young players.  If we can gel as a team and overcome our youth and inexperience, I like our chances.
ULN: What single thing are you looking forward to the most this season?
SN: I’m looking forward most to our first official varsity game ever as a program.  The players and parents have put in SO much work out here that it will be great to see it all finally pay off.  I expect us to win some games this season, but just putting this team on the field is a huge victory.
ULN: What else should we know about your team?
SN: I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the number of former players who have shown up to coach with me at Westlake.  Our entire high school coaching staff is made up of former players and they all bring their own valuable experience to the table.

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  1. Always love to hear about former players coming back to coach. I fully believe that building a solid team starts at the top, with the coaches. The more young coaches are involved the better. Hopefully they utilize all the tools available: ULA Coaches Education, US Lacrosse Coaches Education courses, Duke and Notre Dame online clinics, etc… Always learning and picking up new tips and tricks

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