After playing only seven total games, with one in Mission League, the boys’ lacrosse team officially ended its season Monday afternoon, after Head of Athletics Terry Barnum announced via email that the school had canceled all remaining spring athletic competitions. The announcement came on the heels of the California Interscholastic Federation’s decision to cancel the spring sports season April 3.
Now that his high school career has concluded, captain and midfielder Charlie Keller ’20 said that he will miss the relationships he forged while participating in the program.
“I’m going to miss my teammates and coaches, but I won’t forget the bonds we have formed throughout my four years playing [Harvard-Westlake] lacrosse,” Keller said.
With seven more regular season games on the original schedule, and potentially more in Mission League and CIF playoffs, the players and coaches will not be able to display all the hard work they have been putting in since summer.
“It’s awful that the season was forced to end the way it was,” captain and midfielder Brody Listen ’21 said. “I think everyone feels the same way and shares a similar pain. I am happy we had the chance to play together and will miss the senior class. I believe the seniors really stepped into a leadership role this year, and I know many of them viewed this season as a special opportunity to finish out their Harvard-Westlake careers.”
Compared with previous years, this year’s team had relatively little varsity experience. The loss of players such as Wesleyan University midfielder Donovan Econn ’19, Amherst College goalie Alex Russell ’19 and first team All-Los Angeles midfielders Harrison Listen ’19 and Sultan Daniels ’19, was evident early in the season, as the team won only one of its first seven games. Along with the lack of experience, the Wolverines also dealt with injuries to many of their starters.
This combined stress proved too much to handle. The team fell 13-4 to St. Francis High School, a team that no Wolverine on the current roster had ever lost to, in its first game of the season. The loss also marked the team’s most lopsided defeat since 2018. Three days later, the squad then traveled to Santa Margarita High School and lost 9-8 to the Eagles. Attacker Owen Hudgins ’21 led the way with four goals and midfielder Simba Makawa ’21 had three of his own.
“We played with a lot more intensity and technically we just moved the ball around well as an offense,” Captain and defender Nik Grube ’21 said. “Overall, intensity and attitude really made the game for us and this is a team that really has a lot of potential.”
The team would eventually secure its first victory in a dominant 21-3 performance against West Ranch High School at home March 3. The Wolverines fired on all cylinders, with Hudgins and Listen leading the way with seven and eight goals, respectively.
The team followed that performance with losses to Palos Verdes High School and St. Margaret’s High School. The latter, against the reigning CIF Southern Section Champions, was not only the squad’s last game together, but also could have been arguably its most impressive performance of the season, Listen said. The Wolverines battled in a close 12-10 loss, proving that it could keep pace with the state’s most elite competition.
“We had unfinished business and were truly beginning to click on all cylinders,” Listen said. “The wheels were set in motion and I think that the path we were going to pave ahead was about to be special.”
Grube, who was also very optimistic about the way the team had been headed, said that not being able to finish the season was disheartening.
“Regardless, I’m obviously very disappointed that the season ended in any way, but especially with this group of guys and considering the adversity that we faced this season,” Grube said. “Even though we didn’t do that well this season, just being able to compete with this group of guys is an experience that I’m very sad to have to give up.”
The loss of so many games prevented not only the Wolverines from making a playoff run, but also many players from accumulating film for recruiting. Because lacrosse is a spring sport, players are generally noticed prior to their senior year. Also, with most recruiting camps occurring over the summer, many players are also at risk of failing to gain exposure.
Even with the unfortunate way that the season ended, Listen said he found a new appreciation for the moments he had with the team and the game itself.
“I like to look at all of our preparation and time together optimistically,” Listen said. “Although my junior season ended short and our numerous hours of preparation were never truly put to the full test, I am grateful for what we did get to experience together as a team. Lacrosse was a release from the outside pressures of life and just being able to get out onto the field this year a few times was a blessing. Cliche but true, distance truly makes the heart grow fonder.”