For the majority of the season, the Wilde Lake boys lacrosse program has struggled with one of the most important facets of the game: ball possession.
But, after Siyon Lowe’s hat trick, and John Radcliffe’s three assists and a score Tuesday against visiting Long Reach, the Cats may be closer to putting that problem in the rearview mirror.
“We did a good job of running our offense, being patient and taking what they gave us,” said Wilde Lake coach Jon Robinson, whose squad went on to defeat the Lightning in the rain, 12-4.
The Wildecats scored three goals in each quarter of the win, completing one of their most consistent offensive showings of the season. Lowe – who led the day in goals – noted that the steadiness and poise his team displayed goes back to improving on mistakes that have plagued them all year.
“That was mainly because we were able to possess the ball…It’s what we were working on all day,” he said. “It just showed that we could get our offense working if we could just hold onto it.”
One of the biggest concerns throughout the spring for Robinson’s club has been at the faceoff position. So, in an effort to shake things up, the Cats recently promoted Isaiah Zamora from JV – a move that proved to be a difference-maker in Tuesday’s contest.
Zamora won nine of 15 chances at faceoff, becoming a major contributor to a team that barely skipped a beat for the entire 48 minutes. “He’s been a huge help for us,” added Robinson.
In the opening quarter, Wilde Lake built a 2-0 advantage in the first three minutes before the Lightning could respond.
With 5:50 left before the first break, Long Reach’s Andy Belush scooped up a ground ball from goalie Anthony Valenza’s long clear, and fired. Shortly after, Konor Kick knotted things up at 2-2 on a score of his own.
In the final 10 seconds of the quarter, the teams traded scores to keep things even at 3-3.
“When they tied it up, we just told them to be patient and execute our offense,” Robinson said. “Defining roles is a big thing. I think we’re finally settled into our identity. We’re a team that works hard.”
Though the Lightning kept it close early, no group on the field worked harder than the Wildecats’ defense for the remainder of the game. The team’s goalie, Joe Boccher, notched 11 saves, but it was those in front of him that helped limit the visitors to just one goal in the last three quarters.
“Before, we wouldn’t be able to slide, and we wouldn’t know which man to pick up off of transitions,” Lowe said of the changes his team’s defense has made this year.
Winning the possession battle, as well as the fight on defense, allowed the Cats’ offense to get into a rhythm, where it picked up goals at a steady pace for the remainder of the game.
Robinson took solace in the fact that none of the scores were on what he referred to as “trash goals,” saying that each one was well earned through running the designed offense.
“(Long Rach) seemed tired, because we were able to keep our offense moving,” Lowe said. “Over time, the defense will slow down, passes will be there, and lanes will be there.”
Fresh off the eight-goal county victory, and with just one regular season game to go, Wilde Lake players and coaches think they can make some noise down the stretch. Though Lowe said he knew it would be a “slow journey,” his team may be finally hitting its stride at the right time.
“We all think that, when playoffs come, we’ll be ready,” he said. “That’s our goal, to be the team that we know we can be.”
Wilde Lake 12, Long Reach 4
Goals: WL – Siyon Lowe (3), John Radcliffe (2), Jack Quinn (2), Pierson Swanson, Bran Houstle, Patrick Riley, Ashwin Sundram, Ryan Tiffey; LR – Konor Kick (2), Andy Belush, Cristian Jerry.