2018 Lacrosse Preview

Zach Keenan, Staff Writer

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There’s a difference between showing up to a game and expecting to win, and showing up to a game wanting to win. When a team walks out on the field with their chests puffed, walking through warm-ups cracking jokes, there’s no question that they’ve already played the game through their heads, and know they will win. But, when a team of men hustles on the field and work through every drill, the latter is the descriptor for them. In my opinion, the University School 2018 Lacrosse squad may not expect to win, but they have the will and want to defeat any opponent.

On Friday, March 3rd, the lacrosse team closed out its second full week of practices. Productive, yet still more to be desired. After this time, it becomes clear who spent their offseason on the couch, and who spent it in the weight room or hitting the wall, working on stick skills. As the weekend hit, so did a snowstorm. Any athlete knows that practicing inside is a serious burden, and can dampen the motivation of any practice. By Saturday, the field had been coated in a thick layer of snow and frost, and the team practiced inside. On Sunday however, a small group of players decided that they wanted more. Instead of sitting at home, they spent over five hours outdoors shoveling a small portion of the field. A little over 300 square yards, actually. They shoveled the field from the end zone to the 30 yard-line. Seemingly insignificant, the team was able to practice outside on Monday. While half the team conditioned in the snow-covered 70 yards, the other half shoveled more of the field, and worked on drills thereafter. The phrase, “You made your bed, now lie in it” has never been taken so seriously.

On Monday, all other area teams spent their practices indoors. There are obvious downsides: the ball bounces differently for goalies, it’s harder to see the ball, running is different on rubber vs. turf outside, and there’s significantly less room to operate. Most importantly, the players are unable to prepare for tougher conditions they may face outside later on in the season. A group of motivated players gave this Preppers squad a leg up versus other area teams, by choosing to put in extra work on the weekend. The want to win is very present with this team.

Captains Max Baldridge, Charlie Bidwell, Jon Blackwell, and Ryan Hammer will be complimented by other seniors Andre Berglund, Griffin Butler, Ryan Donahue, Nick Kosir, Tommy Sinito, and Kyle Winings, and this group certainly has their work cut out for them. The gaps left by standouts Ben Davis and Tommy Nook on attack, Alex Hoyen and Stephen Wafalosky at midfield, and Antonio Dargaj and Max Feldman on defense are evident. However, those filling in are more than capable. This is a team where every player will have to work for the team to succeed–there is no room for slacking. Additionally, the depth the team offers also brings great amounts of flexibility. For instance, many attackmen will also be playing offensive midfield, to allow other players to get playing time. Every player on the field will have to earn their spot. Max Baldridge, Charlie Bidwell, and junior George Brinn could be the starting attackmen, though Baldridge will move to midfield at times to allow sophomore Charlie Brennan to get on the field. Additionally, Brennan could move to midfield to allow junior lefty Colin Crawford to work. It would be a waste for many of these players to be on the bench, so the flexibility of other players is essential for the team.

At midfield, juniors George Curley and Connor Zwagerman will work alongside sophomore Miles McIlvaine to form a dominant scoring midfield. On the defensive side of the midfield, US is stacked. Alex Afnan, Enea Cominelli, Ryan Hammer, TJ Kelly, Nic Pujolas, and Kyle Winings will all play in every game. No other Northeast Ohio team has this much depth to offer in the midfield. Sophomores Thomas Butler and Brooks Crowley will play long-stick midfield, or LSM, and the defensive poles will be some of the most talented in all of Ohio. Jon Blackwell, Jake Kapp, and Nick Kosir will likely start, though Tommy Sinito and Paul Marotta will likely find time off of the bench in games. Three goalies will take the pipes, Critter Coughlin, Cam Gable, and Alex Miller. Though these three may be inexperienced, US grad and former college player Coach Ran Kirby will train all three into possible starters.

I reiterate­–no other team in Ohio rivals the amount of depth that this US squad offers. Other teams have superstars, but no other players to compliment their likes. Not to say US doesn’t have superstars, but picking just one MVP will be a difficult task at the end of the season.

The 2018 US Lacrosse season will start off with a bang: the Preppers will play one of their most formidable opponents of the season in their first game, St. Ignatius on March 20th, under the lights at 7:30PM at Ignatius’ field.