PressBox recently caught up with St. Mary's faceoff specialist and midfielder Alex Woodall. One of the biggest contributors to the Saints' 11-6 record last season and an appearance in the MIAA A quarterfinals after a 6-9 campaign in 2013, Woodall won about 75 percent of his faceoffs and added 17 points. He earned All-MIAA honors and was named a Baltimore Sun All-Metro second-team selection.
Woodall is listed as the No. 14 overall lacrosse senior by Recruiting Rundown. He'll be part of an impressive incoming freshman recruiting class next year at High Point. Before that, though, Woodall is focused on helping third-year head coach Ben Rubeor and the Saints capture their first MIAA title in 19 years. St. Mary's is 2-2 this season, with a win against then-No. 6 Malvern (Pa.). The team's two and losses came against a pair of North American powerhouses -- No. 7 Landon and Canada's Hill Academy.
PressBox: How does it feel to be ranked among the nation's top high school lacrosse players and to be named first-team All-USA?
Alex Woodall: It feels really good, considering that I was just [underestimated] freshman, sophomore, and junior year by [colleges and media]. But it's cool that, my senior year, I get a lot of credit. I like it. But then again, sometimes, I don't, because I feel like there's a lot of pressure on me -- like losing some faceoffs or making bad plays. [For the most part,] it's awesome. My parents are really proud, too.
PB: What are some of the nuances of your faceoff style and playing style that you feel have brought you success?
AW: Honestly, the most important thing to me is quickness. Because if I can get it out, I know I have the athletic ability to get a fast break. So I try to take 20 minutes out of practice every day to work on my faceoffs.
PB: How have the new faceoff rules impacted you or changed the style you use?
AW: I've played one game with [the new rules], and I think I kind of like them, because there are a lot of faceoff guys that I go against that are quick to the ball. But they can't really do much after the faceoff. I work on that a lot with Coach Rubeor and the offense. [As far as the quickness], I practice that a lot, so when they change up the cadence, I think it's going to help me a lot since I've been practicing that since I was little.
PB: How does St. Mary's look this year?
AW: I think it [has] looked pretty good. I think our starting offense [has] looked pretty good. We have the best defense in the country, and, frankly, I think we will be the best team in the country this year. I think we can definitely win the [MIAA A Conference] championship this year.
PB: Do you recall your numbers from last season?
AW: It was 75 percent [faceoffs] and 17 points.
PB: In what ways do you think your size and strength have helped make you successful, particularly at the faceoff X?
AW: I don't really use my size a lot, because I can get it out quicker, or I try to with most faceoff [opponents]. I don't like to get in there and just [wrestle]. I just like to get it to myself really quick. But, yeah, if I have to, it helps a lot.
PB: As you've come up in lacrosse, have you been part of any camps, clinics or programs that you think may have helped you become as good as you are?
AW: My freshman year, I did [the Jake Reed Nike] Blue Chip [camp]. That was probably one of the coolest experiences. But other than that, the thing that's helped me out the most is my coaches with club, and then St. Mary's. The Annapolis Hawks' Coach, [Matt] Hogan, and Coach [Dave] Cottle helped me get recruited, and they really care about their players.
PB: You've committed to High Point. What other schools were trying to recruit you?
AW: I had problems with eligibility until my senior year, grades-wise. My freshman year, I was visiting Maryland, Syracuse, schools like that. I wanted to go to Maryland or Syracuse. They told me that, once I was eligible, I'd be able to commit. They told me to wait until summer, and that nothing's for sure. So I started visiting other schools -- Towson, High Point, Stevenson. [High Point] Coach [Jon] Torpey, I probably liked him the most of all those coaches. The [High Point] campus is beautiful. That's a program [in its third year] that's just starting out, and they're getting a lot of good recruits. And I'll be happy to be there, and playing against those top-25 teams.
PB: St. Mary's schedule this season is not an easy one, with nationally-ranked Culver Academy (Ind.), Hill Academy, Landon and Malvern, among others. What do you think may be the toughest tests for the Saints, among that strong competition?
AW: Definitely Culver. They're ranked number one [in the nation] by USA Today. But again, personally, I think we are the best [team in the nation].