If at first the boys’ lacrosse team didn’t succeed, it would try and try again. And try, and try, and try, and finally, succeed in beating its bitter rivals Loyola on March 26. The Wolverines lost three games to the Cubs last year. This year, they blew a three goal lead in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter. But they kept going, and finally, they conquered the Cubs, winning 13-12 in overtime and preserving an undefeated record.
The team has had an unbelievable start to the season, remaining undefeated through 10 games. But that one game that mattered the most, the Loyola game, was really where the team began to emerge as a huge contender in the race for the Mission League title. Additionally, a MaxLax coaches poll for week four of the season places the Wolverines as the top team in Los Angeles, overtaking the Cubs, who were number one the previous week.
After battling it out with the Cubs for a grueling four quarters, the team was able to barely eke out a victory 13-12 in overtime from a Paul Rodriguez ’18 goal. Despite emerging as one of the Mission League favorites and gaining the top rank, the players says the record will not get to their heads.
“Our undefeated record this season has just given us confidence in what we are doing,” team captain Zac Harleston ’17 said. “We have worked incredibly hard this year and are beginning to reap the benefits of putting in the time.”
Midfielder Jared Goldman ’18 also said the team isn’t getting comfortable and is working even harder to preserve their record.
“We aren’t big-headed, we understand that we will play good teams and we don’t take anything lightly,” Goldman said. “We hold ourselves to high standards, so winning is a big deal, and if anything, we are only pressuring ourselves.”
A large contributor to the Wolverines strong season has been the defense. Experienced defenders such as Simon Pompan ’18, Shane Houska ’17 and Donovan Econn ’19 have shut down opposing teams on multiple occasions, with the help of Veteran goalkeeper Troy Hattler ’16, who has also had a number of strong performances. Head Coach Erik Krum believes a large part of the team’s defensive success comes from teamwork and communication.
“In our defense, individually we have very skilled defenders, but one thing that all the coaches have been trying to continue with the boys is a concept of team defense,” Krum said. “One on one defense is great but we need to play a full six on six defense and everybody needs to continue to communicate. Communication is one of the biggest things for our defense to continue moving forward.”
On the other end of the field, the attack has also been very dangerous. The junior attacking trio of Rodriguez, Tommy Park ’18 and Reid Hudgins ’18 has scored over 70 goals combined this season, accounting for over half of the team’s goals. Additionally, Rodriguez scored the winning overtime goal to beat Loyola.
Despite the success, there have been times when the team has looked unlike the number one team in Los Angeles. In a preseason game against Thousand Oaks on March 7, in which the team won 14-12, the team gave up a six goal lead at the end of the third quarter to concede eight goals in the final quarter. However, the team has been focusing on this issue, Krum said.
“We’ve been saying to the boys we need to play a full 60 minutes of lacrosse, and that’s combining first quarter, second quarter, third quarter and fourth, and to be able to do that and combine it into one game,” Krum said. “That’s been our goal all season, sometimes with some of the teams we’re getting some younger players on the field that usually wouldn’t get as much playing time, but towards the end of the game we’re trying to possess the ball, move the ball around and hopefully not die down.”
Looking forward to the rest of the season, not only will the team hope to continue its undefeated streak, but it will also hope to uphold the reputation it has gained over the past few weeks. With the Loyola win and the number one rank, every team in Los Angeles will be gunning for the Wolverines.
“One way we like to deal with having the target on our backs is come out every single day of practice with an attitude and a purpose,” Krum said. “We need to come out with energy and we need to come out with a purpose for that day, whether we’re going to work on zone offense, zone defense, man-to-man offense or defense. We need to continue to go full speed in practice, so when we come to the game we’re ready to go.”
The Wolverines will face off away against Notre Dame on April 5 next, a team they beat 14-1 just a few weeks ago. The team will hope to take another victory against the Knights to take its record to 11-0 overall.