By Chris Hagan
Review Staff Writer
Last year the varsity boys’ lacrosse team ended their regular season with a record that really stuck with the team’s junior class.
And not in a good way.
They finished 5-14 and the elusive OAA Red Championship was once again out of their grasp. Winning the OAA Red is something the lacrosse program has never done before and, according to head coach Brad Thomas, that will hopefully change this season
Led by senior defenseman Jack McClear, the team has instituted a new set of goals and overhauled their mental game, which so far has worked as they’ve gone 3-0 to start the season.
“We had eight games decided by two goals or less last year and we have a group that collectively decided that wasn’t going to be acceptable this year,” Thomas said. “We were a very young team last season and we’re kind of reaping the fruit of that this year. We definitely have taken on a new attitude as a program. We’ve got some great leadership out of our seniors and I think we’re doing a great job of pushing each other. I think that’s been very welcomed this year and it’s a much better team.”
Thomas moved up two coaches from the junior varity, Jeff Colbert and Cory Gordon. Both have brought new ideas and the team is doing different things in practice.
With the addition of the coaching staff, the senior leadership has embarked on two goals that Thomas says are difficult but achievable if the team keeps working. One is to win the OAA Red while the other is to play after Memorial Day, which would put them in the Sweet 16 of the state playoffs.
“What it boils down to is the leadership of our seniors, they have set a high expectation and goals that they want to achieve this year and are really working towards them everyday,” Thomas said. “They have said ‘this is the legacy that we want to leave as seniors’ and this is what we want to accomplish.”
McClear, who’s a third year senior for the team, has been the most vocal about setting the high expectations and keeping the competitive attitude at a high level. Echoing McClear’s message and motivation are seniors Jake Chapie, Cole Schafer, and Daniel Diponio who are leading the underclassmen by setting a high example. He also says seniors Mike Giovannazzo, Charlie Woods, Alec Mehl, and Zach Daining have taken on the leadership roles as well.
Feeding off the anchoring of the senior leadership, Thomas’ 30-man team has depth throughout the field. Thomas Finneran and Peyton Gasche have done a great job in midfield leading and being underclassman along with defensemen Eric Dietz and Drew Hubbard.
“They have really turned up the competition level. Our young kids who were sophomores and juniors last year have grown into seniors and juniors and we’re using that experience to our advantage,” Thomas said.
The team looks to take on defending OAA Red Champions Birmingham Seaholm on Friday and on Saturday they travel to Farmington.
Thomas says that having an undefeated start to a season is a great motivator but it means your team is put on the radar and that’s when the real work begins.
“The biggest hurdle is starting to become a little more of the hunted, we have a good and shiny record right now but with that comes expectations of how you’re going to compete with the other teams,” he said. “As well as continuing to improve and not getting complacent and winning a couple more games.”
By Chris Hagan