Fort Mill Times

Prep lacrosse Lane, Salerno in all-star game

Justen Lane has a nickname - "Sunshine."

But don't let the warm description fool you.

Although Lane could be described as glowing in most aspects of his life, the Fort Mill lacrosse club standout is as intense as any competitor on the field, and plays defense with a tenacity that earned him a lengthy list of honors in his senior season, including a spot in the Queen City Top 50 All-Star game played may 29 in Charlotte.

"This was a pretty great honor," Lane said after the match. "It was a ton of fun - it was great to play against such a high caliber of athletes."

Lane and Fort Mill goalkeeper Chris Salerno were both named as among the top 50 high school lacrosse players in the Charlotte area. Lane said it meant a lot that two Fort Mill players were chosen to the list and saw it as a sign that the visibility of lacrosse in the area is continuing to improve.

"I guess [Fort Mill lacrosse] has come a long way," he said. "This was quite an accomplishment for us...the level of play tonight was a lot higher than we're used to in South Carolina."

In addition to playing in the top 50 game, Lane was named to the South Carolina All-State team and chosen as South Carolina defender of the year. He was also named to the high school All-American team, the first lacrosse player from York County ever to receive that honor.

He said being named to the All-American team was the most meaningful award he received.

"Only a select few players in the nation got that. I guess all the hard work paid off," Lane said.

Last month, Lane, then a senior at Nation Ford, signed a national letter of intent to play lacrosse at Queens College in Charlotte.

Salerno, who is attending the University of South Carolina next fall, said he plans to play on the Gamecocks' club team.

Fort Mill Head Coach Jim Van Blarcom, who was one of the coaches in the top 50 game, said filling the holes left by the graduation of Salerno and Lane would be a tough task.

"Replacing Chris in goal and Justen's leadership - they will be hard to replace," Van Blarcom said. "This game shows that we are getting somewhere. It's a reflection of the kids. They are playing during the summer, fall [and are] just getting better."

Although Salerno and Lane came out on the losing end of a 17-14 game, getting the chance to compete against the best players in the area was really what the game was about. Lane played defense and midfield on and off throughout the game. Salerno played in goal for the second half and gave up eight goals, but he did notch three saves.

"I've enjoyed this an awful lot," Van Blarcom said about coaching from the sideline of the game. "I really enjoy seeing the kids respond to this game - to the challenge of getting better."

Prior to the game, the top underclassmen in the Charlotte area were honored, including two other Fort Mill lacrosse players - Parker Thomas and Kyle Simon.

"This was cool, it was a big honor," Simon said. "I'm looking forward to next year. I'm hoping to play in this game."

The pair of top underclassmen boosted the total to four Fort Mill players who were honored at the all-star game, something Simon was encouraged to see.

"We made it to the playoffs this year and that helped us gain a little recognition," he said. "[Fort Mill lacrosse] is a solid program - it's definitely growing."