Unlike the last few years, a lacrosse game against Englewood no longer means an automatic win, because this season the Pirates are an improved, competitive team.
The Pirates opened the season with three wins and, when Englewood hosted a tournament April 6, they won one of their three games.
The Pirates have a week to work on improvement, as they return to the field at home April 13 against a strong Rangeview team. The faceoff is at 11 a.m., and the game will be played in the Englewood High School Stadium.
The Rangeview game is the last warmup as the Pirates prepare to begin divisional play when they are at home against Valor Christian at 6 p.m. April 18.
This year, for the first time, the state split lacrosse teams into two classifications, 5A and 4A. There are five leagues in 5A and Englewood is in one of the four leagues in 4A. The other teams in Englewood’s league include Valor Christian, Denver South, Machebeuf, Ridgeview Academy and Windsor.
This is the first season that coach Tim Williams has directed the Pirates. He said that because he believes strong fundamentals win games, he has had the players working on fundamentals a lot in practice.
“I believe all that work, plus doing a lot of conditioning drills to build stamina, has paid off for us,” the coach said. “We have improved our lacrosse skills, developed stronger teamwork and established better communications. That helped us win our first three games, and the wins help build our confidence.”
The changes the coach talked about were evident when the Pirates played Glenwood Springs in the April 6 Englewood-sponsored tournament.
Englewood’s players displayed better skills passing, catching and scooping up ground balls. They also played aggressive lacrosse, pressing the attack when they had the ball. They scored five goals in the first 12-minute quarter and won the game, 15-2.
Collin Owens, one of the team captains, said this season is a big step up from last year.
“Our new coach pushes us hard because he knows we can play well, so he expects us to play our best every time we are on the field,” he said. “We have a small roster, so the coach has pushed us hard to develop the stamina needed to keep playing at top speed the whole game.”
Owens said another big plus is that the new coach has instilled in the team that they have the talent needed to win games.
Owens is a player who can be picked out, as he carries the defensemen’s long stick but often moves between defense and midfield.
“I like defense and I like the long stick,” Owens said. “The longer stick extends my reach and helps me when I try to stop a pass or knock down a ball in the air.”
Teammate and fellow captain Josh Kavinsky said he thinks a major difference in the Pirates is their strong teamwork.
“Last year, it was more individual play, but this year we are working together and I think everyone is playing to score goals, even if it means passing to another player who puts the ball in the net,” the three-year letterman said. “The new coach has helped us as a team and me as a player. When I make a mistake, he tells me what I did wrong and how to correct it.”
He said the early-season wins were important, because they showed the Pirates they can play good lacrosse and get wins.
Kavinsky said he likes playing attack and has scored seven goals so far this season.
“I like playing on this team because everyone is ready to help each other. Like against Glenwood, when they started double-covering me, I told the others on attack someone should be open for a good shot,” the senior said. “The season is going well and I would like to score 15 goals this year. It’s good to know I am now halfway to my goal.”