The last two days have been full of competitive lacrosse.
Day 3: After getting a good night’s rest after all of our travel, we set our alarms early to arrive at breakfast by 7:30 a.m. A few eggs, some toast, and a few pieces of fruit later, we were on the bus headed to the practice field for our 9 a.m. practice.
Practice No. 2 began where practice No. 1 left off. We were pumped up all through practice, for later we would have our first crack at the English National Team. Improving off of the first practice, our stick skills were sharper, our coaches walked us through multiple plays, and we were beginning to conceptualize our game plan for the first scrimmage against the British.
Scrimmage No. 1 was an extremely competitive game. Our first opportunity to scrimmage another team in 2014, the scrimmage was fast-paced, aggressive, and with high intensity. Although we experienced a few injuries in the first two practices, all healthy players on the roster had the opportunity to step onto the field.
Coming out fast, Haverford quickly put up the first two goals of the game (from Andrew Dalke and Dan LoSardo). The quick start knocked our British counterparts back on their heels, realizing they would have to bring their best to pull out a victory. Despite the favorable start, the English team capitalized on their experienced roster and familiarity playing under the International FILA rules to pull ahead by four heading into halftime (6-2). Increasing their lead to seven by the end of the third quarter (9-2), the English side gave us our first spell of adversity in the 2014 season. Proud of the way our men responded, Coach Bathory and Coach Wilber made some savvy tactical changes that led us to outscore our opponents 4-3 in the final quarter, leading to a 12-6 final score. Running through our full roster allowed everyone to overcome some nerves, play in live action, and gain valuable experience. Given the fact that we were two practices into our season and outscored our opponents in the fourth quarter, we felt good coming out of the first scrimmage with the English.
After the game, we headed back to our hotel where we ate dinner, then explored the town with our three hours of free time. With a full slate of lacrosse the next day, we headed off to bed to rest up.
Day 4: We put in some hard work on day 4. Another 7:30 breakfast gone, we had our third practice session at 9 a.m. With our coaches focusing on our attention to detail, discipline, and conditioning, our third practice got off to a fast start. Coach Walts (our strength & conditioning coach), Coach Bathory, and Coach Wilber led us through a rigorous conditioning session. After working hard in the first half of practice, we turned our focus towards the “clinic” portion.
Together with the English team, we led a clinic for the Spanish and Portuguese teams. Our teams continued practicing as normal, but with the addition of the Spanish and Portuguese players into our drills. This was an incredibly valuable experience. Sharing an interest in the game of lacrosse, it was amazing for us to share this moment with our new Portuguese teammates. They brought a refreshing enthusiasm to the field that reminded us of how much fun this game can be. The lacrosse fraternity is generally a small and tight-knit community, however it was inspiring to witness the ways this game can bring people of different cultures closer together.
We returned to the hotel for bag lunches, and had two hours to rest up for our second scrimmage against the English.
Scrimmage No. 2 was a controlled scrimmage. With each half focusing on different aspects of the game (e.g. high pressure defense, zone defense, man-up penalties, etc.), both teams practiced overcoming different weaknesses. Rotating new players into the game every five minutes, our coaches experimented with different combinations of defensemen, attackmen, and midfield lines. As a result, all players had a significant amount of playing time and chemistry was beginning to form between certain players. Ben Miltenberg was working hard at the face-off X, PJ Jackson was pushing transition with speed, and Tav Hafner, Andrew Dalke, Jack Bodine, and Dan LoSardo were all raining the goalie with a wide variety of shots. The unfortunate result of 15-7, in favor of the English, exposed some of our weaknesses and tested us in aspects of the game outside of our comfort zone.
Despite this unfavorable result, we took a lot away from this scrimmage. By exposing some of our strengths and weaknesses (as well as theirs), we can alter our game plan in time for our winner-takes-all matchup tomorrow.
With two scrimmages behind us, we will put all of our energy towards the final scrimmage, where both teams will put their very best on the line to earn a victory.