Meg Lentz Leads Tigers Lax To New Heights
The Heights High senior has tied and set new records at the school.
Meg Lentz never wanted to be the next Dana Lindsay.
Lindsay set Cleveland Heights High School records in goals and points scored on the lacrosse field, won the 2006 state championship as a senior, then played at Stanford.
Then Lentz, a senior, broke all of Lindsay’s records, and set more of her own.
“She’s a gifted athlete and she’s combined that with a really strong ability to work hard, to improve on her athleticism,” said Heights coach Terry Saylor, who coached both players. She’s “pretty much everything you’d want an athlete to be.”
Lentz now holds several school records including most goals in a career, season and game, and most points in a career and season. She’s played on the Ohio team in the national tournament since she was a freshman, and she’s been first team all-state every year. Monday night, in a playoff victory over Kent Roosevelt, she tied a Heights High record for the most points in one game with nine goals and five assists. She was a high school All-American her sophomore and junior years, and is waiting to find out whether she’ll be honored again this year.
Lentz didn’t make the under-19 national team, but she said that’s because she tried out when she was 16.
“But I don’t want to sound like I’m bragging,” she said.
Besides, Lentz added, being one of the best players in Ohio isn’t that significant, given the talent on display in national competitions.
Saylor admires the way Lentz tries to keep the focus away from herself.
“I think she has a strong commitment to her team, and even though she’s satisfied with what she’s achieved, if she expressed that in an overt way, it would detract from what they’ve accomplished as a team,” Saylor said.
But all humility aside, Saylor said, “She’s considered the top player in the Midwest.”
She was recruited by Northwestern, which has won seven of the last eight national championships. Stanford noticed her, too, and offered her a partial scholarship. Lentz hesitated, concerned about following Lindsay too closely.
“I think I was always ‘the next Dana Lindsay,’" Lentz said. But after narrowing her choices down to Stanford and Ohio State, she finally opted for the former.
“It’s hard to turn down Stanford,” Saylor said.
A few months after Lentz committed, Saylor took the Heights team to Palo Alto, CA, Stanford’s home, during spring break. The visit convinced Lentz that she had made the right choice.
“It’s something she feels comfortable with,” Saylor said. “Probably her style of play fits better for Stanford, compared to Northwestern.”
Saylor said Lentz has an unusual ability to anticipate in game situations.
“She’s got the ability to play in the zone,” he said. “She recognizes what the next step is going to be.”
Lentz said her best game this season was against undefeated Peters Township, the top team in the Pittsburgh area.
Heights was leading 6-0, but Peters Township made a furious comeback. Lentz sat out two minutes after being given a yellow card, and when she returned, Heights was losing by a goal. She scored two more goals and Heights won 11-10.
She scored seven goals and three assists in the game, accounting for all but one of her team’s goals.
“I love playing in those close games when it comes down to a big moment,” Lentz said.
“She has the ability to dominate,” Saylor said. “She’s had a lot of games where she’ll score two, three, four goals early, then she’ll be content to pass to her teammates. She scores more against better teams.”
The next game, Lentz recorded 16 draw controls, or face-offs. She holds the school record in draw controls and takeaways.
“Four or five would be a great day, and she had nine in the first half,” Saylor said. “Hopefully, her best game is yet to come.”
Heights last won a state championship in 2006, Lindsay’s senior year.
“I feel like we’re living in that team’s shadow until we do it,” Lentz said of the 2006 team.
If they didn’t win this year, “I’d feel unaccomplished and incomplete.”