by: VERN UYETAKE David Swanson returns to the Pacers this year and coach Curt Sheinin believes he is one of the top players in the state.

The Lakeridge boys lacrosse team will be fun to watch again this year. The Pacers, coming off an appearance in the Final Four last year, have reloaded and feature an exceedingly deep team that should be explosive offensively.

"We have the talent to be right there again. It's a nice mix of veterans and younger players," coach Curt Sheinin said.

The Pacers should have no trouble putting the ball in the net this year with a very talented group of attackmen and two terrific midfield lines.

"Offensively we should be difficult to stop. Our midfield is as good as we've had in a number of years but we have strength everywhere," Sheinin said.

As a result, the Pacers will generally try to push the ball as much as possible.

"We definitely have a lot of team speed. We have outside shooters and guys who can drive and, on attack, we have finishers," Sheinin said.

Up front, the Pacers will look to get the ball to Johnny Clayton, one of the more dangerous scorers in the state.

He will play alongside another returner in Connor Dales.

But where Lakeridge has a huge advantage this season is through its midfield.

The Pacers can come at teams in waves with two exceedingly talented lines.

The first is anchored by David Swanson who Sheinin believes is one of the best players in the state.

Swanson is joined by another talented scorer in Michael Hoch, along with Blake Dutton, one of the best all-around athletes on the team.

On the team's second midfield line will be Alberto Cristobal, who missed last year with a torn ACL and who has an extremely quick shot.

Ty Damon and Cole Fritz will also play on that line which has terrific chemistry on the field.

"I'm hoping we'll be able to wear our opponents down," Sheinin said.

Defensively, Lakeridge should be solid as well. Clark Salamie is the team's long-stick midfield and has been terrific in two early-season wins.

The Pacers' top returner on the back line is Dylan Patterson and he is joined by Bryce Dorrance, Roy Jarman and Carsten DeBakker.

In goal will be David Salamie who looks to continue Lakeridge's tradition of exceptionally talented keepers.

"He's waited his turn and has been very strong," Sheinin said.

The Pacers will gear up for a strong league schedule with a brutal non-league slate.

Lakeridge has already picked up wins over Jesuit and Tigard this season and will play against some of the best teams in the Northwest and Canada in an upcoming tournament.

And the Pacers will open the league schedule with crosstown rival Lake Oswego.

Lakeridge, Lake Oswego and West Linn will likely battle it out for the league title again this year with all three teams boasting squads capable of advancing to the Final Four.

"We're all strong again. The attitude of this team is fantastic. They're willing to do the work and we have great senior leadership," Sheinin said.

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