The start of spring sports marks another chance for the boys lacrosse team to defend its two consecutive Mercer County titles. Coming off of these two consecutive seasons with MCT championship wins, the coaches and players are hopeful looking forward.
“[The team] looks at [defending the MCT title] as let’s attack the championship this year, let’s prepare ourselves to go out and win another one … It’s going to take us a while to to get into our groove, but we definitely anticipate that we’re a dangerous team in the postseason,” said Head Coach Peter Stanton.
After eight seniors graduated last year, the new season not only allows the returning players to defend their titles, but gives the new players an opportunity to rise to the occasion. “It’s a whole brand-new team with a lot of young players,” said Assistant Coach Chip Casto. “It’s gonna take a whole different route to get to that goal.”
The team intends to take advantage of the introduction of younger team members and use this adjustment as another motivating factor for the team’s overall improvement. The coaching staff integrated the new players into the fold of the team through a rigorous preseason practice schedule. “We have been lifting and running pretty much every day,” said Co-Captain Colin Buckley ’15, regarding the work in preparation for the season.
At the beginning of each season, every member of the team is given a strength and running test. “We like to get a good sense of the team and gauge their commitment to the sport as a whole,” Casto said.
Measured by how much a given player can bench press and how fast they can run a “Dempsey,” a 1.6-mile run around neighborhoods near the school, players are able to see where they stand in their physicality and determine their personal improvement. This test serves to raise the standard of the team as a whole.
“Stanton and I are always thinking about the team and what happens on the field, off the field, and the culture of the whole program, to make sure we are always pretty well-prepared,” Casto said.
In addition to rigorous conditioning and a history of postseason wins, long-standing team traditions contribute to the team culture. The coaches are looking to build new traditions too, such as psychs before games. “In the playoffs we do a thing called the dream rock,” Buckley said. “Before every game, a player has a rock and they have to go home and find an inspirational quote that they really like.”
According to the team, the dream rock tradition and unique psychs will contribute immensely to team unity. Players and coaches agree that such unity has historically been a key factor in their success.
“We see the performance benefits [of team unity] … If you’re a unified team a player can address another player to help take corrective action,” Stanton said. “You’re going to play harder if you care about your teammates.”