One measly goal.
That's what separated the South River boys lacrosse team from a state championship last year as the Seahawks fell to Linganore, 7-6, in the Class 4A-3A title game.
Despite the loss, senior defenseman Jordon Kneisly will tell you it was the best experience he's had on the lacrosse field. It also drives him this season.
A three-year starter, Kneisly has one more chance to bring home a state title, and he's confident the team has the goods to make a return trip with a better outcome this time. The Seahawks are a tight group, and charity work has helped bring them closer. In the fall, they had a canned food drive to support Harvest for Hungry, which contributes to the Anne Arundel County food bank. Every winter, the team sponsors a family in need, donating clothes, food and anything else that helps.The Seahawks also participated in the Polar Bear Plunge, raising $30,000 for the Special Olympics Maryland.
In addition to lacrosse, Kneisly also played two years of varsity on the football and basketball teams at South River. Maintaining a weighted 3.86 GPA, he is set to play lacrosse at Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia with plans to study economics.
What expectations does the team have for the season?
We're looking to get right back to the state championship. Most of the defense returns, and we have some guys stepping up on offense to fill some spots, and the main goal is to get back to the state championship. We have extremely demanding off-season workouts. We're not just coming out and going through the motions. Just being a state championship team, it pushes people because we want to keep getting back to that level. Guys [are] doing a little extra after practice like playing wall ball, staying after to shoot around just to get better at small parts of your game. Our coaches always tell us little things make the difference.
What do you enjoy most about playing defense?
At South River, we're known for our defense, so playing defense is kind of special. We always look to keep teams below eight goals, and it's definitely a challenge every game because there's some pretty good offenses — Arundel, Severna Park, Broadneck — we're going up against. I just love shutting them down — not letting my guy get one goal the entire game. That's my goal every game, I'm going to shut my guy down every single time he touches the ball.
What are the benefits that come with playing sports?
Sports has helped me with my determination and pushing me to the max in school, in my relationship with my friends and other things. One thing somebody who doesn't play sports may not have is the determination to always finish things out. That's something I've really developed through sports — once you start something, you finish it. I look for that to kind of carry me for the rest of my life, just pushing through things no matter how hard it gets. You're always going to face adversity in life, and it's how you react to the adversity that really matters. And that's really what sports has taught me the most.
What's the best advice you've received?
I guess the best thing I've heard was from one of my football coaches when he said hard work beats talent that doesn't work hard. I've always tried to work my hardest, because no matter how good you get, there's always room to improve. I heard it in the fall and I've tried to stick by that.
How rewarding is it for the team to help out a family in need?
It makes you feel really good. Every winter, the team sponsors a family and we donate clothes, food and anything else we can come up to give to a family in need. It's really nice to help a family out, especially in this community because they come out and support us in lacrosse and all the other sports.
What's been your best day playing lacrosse?
I've had a lot of them. Going [to the state title game] last year and coming up short was really disappointing, but that's still is my favorite. Just being in that atmosphere, the fans were going crazy, and it was great. We had the opportunity, and that's all we could have asked for.