Resurgent, relaxed Lenape riding five-game win streak
The team was battling injuries to numerous starters. And all three losses were to quality teams. But 0-3 is 0-3. It stings. The Lenape boys' lacrosse team felt it.
The team was battling injuries to numerous starters. And all three losses were to quality teams.
But 0-3 is 0-3. It stings. The Lenape boys' lacrosse team felt it.
It's a feeling the Indians cite as a big reason they have won five straight, after Wednesday's 12-1 win over Absegami. Two of those wins were against key rivals.
"It was rough for us in the beginning. Nobody wants to lose the first three games of the season," said senior attack James O'Donnell, a Widener recruit. "But it made us more focused. After we lost our third game, we all sat down as a team and took it upon ourselves to figure out how to turn things around."
Added junior attackman Reed Hoffman: "The team had a closed-door meeting, the captains talked to the players, and we decided what we needed to work on and why we weren't doing what we were supposed to be doing - because we did great all preseason."
Much of that meeting, the players said, boiled down not to what they needed to do, but rather, to what they needed to stop doing.
The Indians were overplaying and too tense.
"We had to be a little looser," junior goalie Eric Leonard said. "We decided we had to not be so stressed with the ball. We had to play as a team, trust each other, and move the ball better."
That has resulted in a fluid, balanced system. Couple that with the elevated play of Leonard in net, and it's clearer how the Indians managed to knock off two top-five teams in a five-day span.
On Monday, Lenape topped No. 4 Eastern, an Olympic Conference American Division rival, 7-5. The win came four days after the team beat Shawnee, 8-7 - marking Lenape's first win over the Renegades in the 10-year history of the program.
"We've really got our guys believing in that team concept, it's showing on offense and defense, and that's adding up to W's," Lenape coach Bill Sutphin said.
That concept will need to be in full force in arguably the area's toughest division. Lenape is set to duke it out in a wide-open American Division that includes Washington Township, Cherry Hill East, Cherokee, and No. 10 Clearview, which topped Lenape, ranked No. 7, on April 4.
"Right now, I feel like no one can stop us," O'Donnell said.
Still running. On paper, the first thing that sticks out is how much talent the Washington Township girls graduated from their 2011 South Jersey Group 4-title team.
On the field, it's just as easy to notice how many athletes the Minutemaids still have.
In Temple-bound twins Megan and Nicole Tiernan, Washington Township (4-2) has two stars who play the game as if they're running in a track meet.
"They are exceptionally fast," coach Sandy Stockl said. "And they're very intense. They're competitive, and they want to win."
The senior midfielders are anchoring a team that graduated practically its entire defense and attack. But the Tiernan twins aren't the only players shining for the fourth-ranked Minutemaids. Players such as senior midfielder Christina Brennan and senior defender Lou Kalitz lead one of the most balanced teams in the area.
"The seniors last year really pushed the younger players," Stockl said. "And we were able to use that to springboard into this season."
Paving the way. Absegami boys' coach Scott Winneberger pointed to the number of records his team has already broken this year.
The team set a program mark for goals in a game with 19 against Lower Cape May. Junior attack Austin Goodwin broke the school's career scoring record with 47 goals. Granted, the records are modest.
But for a program in just its fourth year, the records are a sign of a team moving in the right direction.
"Our goal is to have a winning season, which we haven't done yet," Winneberger said.
Absegami is 5-2 and already has beaten Ocean City and Middle Township for the first time.