After a three-year hold on the championship title, the boys lacrosse team lost the title to Pembroke last year.
“Last year we thought we were going to do a lot better,” junior Mark Ward said. “This year we are going to make up for [losing the championship], at least we are going to try our hardest to.”
The team’s three championships were won under former head coach Chris Kliewer, however he had never played lacrosse. This season, Will Garrett, who played for four years at Washington and Lee University in Virginia, was promoted from offensive coach to head coach.
“[Our new coaches] really understand how the game works,” senior Sam Huffman said. “Our previous head coach hadn’t played lacrosse, but he brought a lot of assistants in to help him with that. [Kliewer] was more of a motivator.”
Garrett’s promotion allowed the players to improve their spacing and planning for goals on the field by learning about the awareness and strategy on the field. During practices, the coaches work with the players to learn where to be on the field, what to see on the field and to plan for specific plays during games.
Scrimmages allow the coaches stop plays and break them down for the players. They show the players where they are supposed to be on the field and help them to understand how the play is supposed to work.
“Especially here in Kansas City, a lot of these kids didn’t grow up playing lacrosse, so it’s really important that I teach them, I call it Lacrosse IQ,” Garrett said.
The team is also able to use film this year, because of the coach Dustin Delaney’s addition, which has helped the players to see their mistakes on the field during practices and games.
“[The film] really helps us to see what we’re doing wrong,” Ward said. “The coaches can circle players, put out notes for each player and we can all access and see that. We all go over it as a team so we can fix that on the video and then we go out and fix it on the field.”
After watching the film from the first game, Garrett was pleased with the improvement the team made already this season.
“Their spacing that we worked on is 10 times better than last year, and it’s really setting up some of our good scorers too,” Garrett said. “It makes their life a lot easier. I think John Aliber had 10 goals in our first game and a lot of that was our offense setting him up correctly.”
The team won their season opener 16-4 against Lee’s Summit High School.
Later this season, the team is scheduled to face Rockhurst, Pembroke and St. Louis University High School, three of the six teams that they lost to last year.
“Last year in those games, I feel like we got really flustered,” Huffman said. “[The teams we lost to] forced us to either make awkward passes or they set the tone of the game and the tempo they wanted to play. All we were doing was reacting. This year, with new coaching, we’ll be able to play to our style and our tempo.”
Two of those teams, Pembroke and Rockhurst, along with Olathe East, will be the East’s most important games this season according to Huffman.
“Not only are those big games for us mentally since we’ve built up rivalries, but also because those are the most important for seeding in the playoffs,” Huffman said.
Before these games, the team will meet in locker room to prepare and get pumped by listening to “I’m Shipping up to Boston” by Dropkick Murphy’s.
The East-Rockhurst game is scheduled for April 23 and the East-Pembroke game for May 1.