Dulaney High graduated 18 seniors from the 2020 boys lacrosse team that never got to play a game because of COVID-19, but head coach Kyle Fiat is not focusing on that as the Lions prepare to open the season at home against Hereford on Tuesday, May 11.
He’s trying to build a squad featuring a team with very little experience, but with several talented players ready to make an impact and climb up the depth chart.
“What is interesting this year it’s the first time in my coaching career is having to teach basically the entire team,” Fiat said.
Several seniors who were deprived of their final year at Dulaney are playing in college, including All-American midfielder Justin White (Wagner), defenseman Owen Campbell (Randolph Macon), and attackman Johnny McGrain (St. Mary’s).
They were on the 11-4 2019 team that lost to Catonsville, 7-6, in the second round of the Class 4A North Region tournament.
Senior goalie Scott Grim was on the varsity that season and figured to share playing time in 2020.
Now, it’s his gig between the pipes and Fiat is excited for his senior captain.
“He’s a senior goalie who has been a four-year program guy, who has developed into just being an amazing leader and for that to come from a goalie entering this year with so much youth around him, he’s been amazing,” Fiat said. “He is going to be a great leader for our defense.”
The only senior on the defense is Thomas Sheggrud.
“He kind of follows in those same footsteps as Scottie, just being an incredible kid, a great student, an awesome work ethic,” Fiat said.
Junior defender Jack Zeidler made varsity last season and he’ll be joined in the back by sophomore Jack MacLaren.
“He (MacLaren) runs well. He played JV last year as a freshman and he has been one of those great surprises,” Fiat said.
One thing the coach won’t be surprised to see is senior Noah Dow hustling all over the field.
“In our scrimmage, he just showed us what type of motor he has,” said Fiat, of the three-sport athlete who also wrestles and played football. “This kid never slows down. He’s got one speed and it’s full speed and he makes up for every bit of inexperience playing at this level with his motor.”
Sophomore Drew Dannenfelser will play long stick midfielder.
“He’s great on ground balls, a smart player and he’s savvy with his stick,” Fiat said.
Sophomore defender Leo Hale is also in the defensive mix.
Junior Will Bush will take a majority of the draws and seniors Ephrem Fitzsimmons and Isaiah McCamie will be key two-way guys.
“We’ve got kind of a young cast of middies,” Fiat said.
That includes sophomore Chris Esslinger.
“He’s just developed so much this year physically,” Fiat said. “He’s one of the guys who really took advantage of not playing for the year and still getting better.”
Another midfielder is sophomore Colby Betterton.
“He plays a different style with his stick than we’ve had in the past,” Fiat noted. “He’s able to do some things that a lot of high school kids are not able to do.”
Junior Mack Burke moves between attack and midfield to showcase his versatility.
“He kind of gives us an added look at both spots which is something that we haven’t had,” Fiat said.
Seniors Kyler Martin Yeboah and Ryan Distaso are also be in the midfield mix.
Junior Luke Pezzula is the most experienced and he’ll quarterback the attack after playing varsity as a freshman.
Sophomore Braeden Colegrove made varsity in 2020 as a freshman attacker.
“He has a great skill set,” Fiat said.
Left-handed sophomore Liam Holman fills out the three-headed attack.
“They’ve got great skill sets and they are learning a lot about each other and I think just to have the chance to play together for multiple seasons is just huge for them,” Fiat said. “They all kind of bring their own pieces to the puzzle.”
Freshman attacker Ryan Grogan has already made an early impact.
“He has just been a huge, huge surprise for us,” Fiat said.
Junior Drew Connor is making a case for work on attack.
“In the scrimmage, he saw himself climbing a spot on the depth chart and earning those minutes,” Fiat said.
Although they opened with a scrimmage against Franklin on May 4, Fiat has seen the hard work in inter-squad scrimmages.
“It’s going to be a competitive season within our program, but it’s also going to be a season that, as competitive as these guys have to be with each other, everybody is going to get their shot,” Fiat said. “Every single person is serviceable and going to be able to go out there and give us something positive and that’s kind of a cool spot to be in.”
Two athletes who didn’t play in the scrimmage and won’t play this season are junior twins Charlie and Robbie Gifford.
Robbie tore the ACL in his knee last week and Charlie tore his ACL in November.
Although there were several mistakes early in the first scrimmage, Fiat did see some positive developments.
“Our effort on ground balls was just fantastic and our effort riding and clearing was solid,” he said. “As frustrating and challenging as it was at times, the flip side of it was effort and attitude was just incredible.”
Fiat may have a theory for why the energy was up in that first scrimmage after the lost 2020 season.
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“You know what it feels like to have it be taken from you,” Fiat said. “I think the guys are excited to be out there and they are also really appreciative to be out there.”