Monthly Archives: March 2013

Post-Game Blog: Liberty

IMG_1522Nick Sato

#9

Junior Midfielder

Our third game was against a tough Liberty Flames team (SELC D2). This was our first home game so the team was pretty excited. The week leading up to it was a little difficult because it was tough to get a good day to practice outside. Our team really wanted to get some good practice time in because we knew we had a challenge coming up in Liberty. Although we fought hard we fell 15-2 in our home opener.

Our game started at 11:30 so our morning started at 9. It was a fairly early start to the day, but I was pumped when I woke up. First, I woke up some of the other players on my floor and hung out with the ones that were already up. I could tell a couple of the other guys were as intense about this game as I was. By the time we got outside it was pretty hazy out, but that just added to the eeriness of the day. When we got to our dining commons our team was focused on the task at hand.

After getting a light breakfast we went our separate ways for about 20 minutes to get our things and meet back at the field. When we first arrived at the field the haze started to die down and the sun came out for a little and things warmed up. From what I can remember either we started warming up early or Liberty arrived a little late because it felt like we were warming up for a fairly long time. Our line drills looked crisp and our attitude and focus was in the right place from the start. As we moved into our 4 v 3 drill things only looked better. We were making the right decisions and executing very well.

After about five minutes of 4 v 3, coach realized that we were ahead of schedule and there was still around 20 minutes until the game actually started. Coach stopped the drill and told us that we were looking good and our heads were in the right place, but since we were so ahead of schedule he told us to take a couple minutes for ourselves to do whatever we needed to get ready for the game. This is where things started to change for us, some kids played catch to keep their sticks warm while other went to take a couple minutes for some quiet time and prayer. When we got back together to start the drills again things just didn’t feel the same. Our intensity had completely gone away and it felt like we started to force plays. Coach Patrone told us before the game that the word potential is one of the worst words in sports because it means that a team is not playing as well as they could. He said we are not at our full potential, but this game is a chance to turn that around.

The game started and after only a minute and a half we were down 3 goals to 0. Liberty’s first goal seemed to deflate everyone on our team; everything we had said and done the previous week was nullified by a goal. After going down 5-0 we finally put our first goal on the board. After subbing in for Will Gemmel in the offensive 1/3 of the field I found Chris Baker who shot the ball off a Liberty defender’s helmet and into the goal. Throughout the first half we played harder and harder to match the pace and skill of the Flames, but we had dug ourselves a hole and were 10-1 at the half.

The halftime talk we got consisted of Coach West commending us for not giving up and playing hard, but also consisted of him telling us that we had a chore on our hands catching up. Typically we are known for being a come from behind team, a mold we are trying to break this year. We came back out fired up for a second half battle. Throughout the 3rd quarter our defense held Liberty to bad shots and great saves by our goalie Johnny Radcliff.

The 4th quarter started to look even better as we moved the ball around and got some possession time against Liberty’s defense. About six minutes into the 4th Chris Baker ripped a shot that hit Liberty’s goalie in the cup and forced Liberty to put in their backup goalie. After moving the ball around a few times Scott Collins dodged his defender and took a good bounce shot on goal that hit the inside of the post and at first looked like a goal, but the refs called it no goal saying it had not crossed the line. Our defense really stepped up in the 2nd half holding Liberty to only five goals and a number of forced turnovers, notably by Kyle Ditthardt. A save by John Radcliff turned into a fast break opportunity and freshman Parker O’ Leary found Sam Wright open on a cut across the crease to score our 2nd goal of the game.

The thing that really struck me was even after Liberty had beaten us 15-2 they were immediately heading to the center of the field after we shook hands. We have gotten into the habit of asking the other team’s coach or captain to meet in the center of the field for a post game prayer, but we didn’t even have to ask Liberty. Something like that helps a 15-2 loss sting a little less, both teams had been playing not for their own glory, but for the glory of God. After the prayer I talked to one of Liberty’s midfielders and he explained to me how even though they beaten us pretty badly, they were still surprised by the skill and intensity we had come with. After playing a lot of games in a short amount of time they were expecting this game to be a walk in the park, but we surprised them by not giving up although we were down and the fight we came to the game with.
Our next home game is April 4th against conference rivals Indiana Tech at 6 pm. Come out and support us as we look to start conference play with a win!

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Post-Game Blog: Michigan-Dearborn

In an attempt to share our season with you, we will be writing about our game experiences on the blog. These posts will include a player telling you all about the game we recently played. Be on the lookout for more posts as the season progresses.

Brett Ladley

#22

Senior Midfielder

Our second game of the season was played against Michigan-Dearborn (CCLA division 2) in Birmingham, Michigan.  As a senior on the team, some of my fondest memories of Taylor University lacrosse have come from long weekends and road trips to away games.  This weekend was no exception, with our team winning in a comeback victory 8 to 7.

The day started off at eight thirty a.m. as we left the dining commons parking lot for our four hour drive.  After our Subway pit stop, we made our way to the playing field around one o-clock.  For most of this year, we have experienced poor weather conditions, forcing us to practice inside and postpone two games.  On Saturday, the weather was a beautiful 45 degrees and an absolutely perfect day for lacrosse.

Michigan-Dearborn struck first within the first five minutes of play.  Our team was sluggish and Michigan-Dearborn was out hustling us to ground balls and executing well on the field.  Another goal was scored by Michigan-Dearborn, and I could feel our confidence drop slightly.  On top of our slow start, senior and starter Rex Huffman injured his knee during a ground ball.  As a starting midfielder, Rex plays a large role in our offense and is a leader on our team.  For him to be out of the game was a difficult thing for us to grasp.  It put a large burden on our second line of midfielders to fill Rex’s role.

On top of our disappointing start, I don’t think we were ready for a much improved Michigan-Dearborn team.  Although we attempt to go into every game with a mentality to play our hardest, we failed to execute what we had been practicing for so many hours.  Early on in the second quarter, the Trojans made it on the board with a great goal by junior attackman Sam Wright.   However, Dearborn scored two more goals to finish the first quarter up 4-1.  The second quarter was no better, with Dearborn outscoring the Trojans two goals to one.

Looking back over the first half of play, there is no single part of our play that could be blamed for such a large deficit.  Both our offense and defense were making key mistakes.  During our halftime meeting, Coach West urged us to think over how much work we had put into the sport over the year.  There was little praise during the halftime meeting, and our coaches challenged each one of us to stop looking for others to lead the team.  There were no more excuses, and after some defensive adjustments, we began the second half of play down 6-2.

Although Dearborn scored the first goal of the half, we were ready to shut them out for the rest of the game.  Immediately, I could feel a difference in our play.  Thanks to excellent wing play by senior LSM Will Gemmel, we controlled the faceoffs and possessions as I went 11-16 at the faceoff X.  A key turning point in the game occurred when freshman attackman Parker O’Leary scored his first career goal after a great split-dodge from goal line extended.  Parker’s goal sparked a fire in our team that we had not had all game.  Another goal from senior attackman Chris Baker brought the Trojans to within three with a score of 7-4.

Starting the fourth quarter down by three is not a position that our team wanted to be in.  Coach West and Coach Patrone challenged us to remember our preparation and urged us to execute our game plan for the next fifteen minutes.  I believe that a switch was turned in our team when we came out onto the field for the last quarter.  The Trojans barely let Dearborn touch the ball, as we possessed for 85% of the last quarter.  With goals from Sam Wright and senior midfielder Matt Witt, the game was within one with six minutes to play.  After possessing the ball from the faceoff and taking good shots on offense, Chris Baker tied the game with a beautiful top shelf shot against the goalies strong side.

The game was tied but we knew that it was not over.  I could Dearborn players deflate as our sideline celebrated Chris Baker’s goal.  We were not going to lose that game and with two minutes left, Sam Wright found junior midfielder Nick Sato open with the game winning shot.  Nick’s first goal of the season had given us the lead.  With two minutes left, we burned the clock and made a key defensive play to win game with a comeback victory.

Looking back on the game, I have some key thoughts and beliefs about our victory on Saturday.  First, I would argue that some of the most valuable players on a team are those who come off of the bench.  You can have a select few of starters who lead the team in points, but without depth on a team, you cannot win a championship.  After Rex Huffman was injured in the first quarter of play, Nick Sato was asked to fill a role that he had not done before.  Also, Parker O’Leary scored his first career goal after coming off of the sideline.  These are the players who give our team an advantage, and I am so excited to be a part of a team that is diversified.

Also, I would argue that our team has not even discovered our full potential.  We have bits and pieces of excellence, but we are aware that if we play how we did in the fourth quarter against Dearborn all game, we would be on a different level.  During our first two games, we have had our ups and downs and I believe that our team will steady out and begin to play a full four quarters of play soon enough.

All in all, our victory against Dearborn was bittersweet.  We had won the game in an exciting fashion and it may have been our best comeback game during my time at Taylor.  However, we are unaware of the condition of Rex’s injury, and it’s disappointing to lose such a valuable member of our team to an injury this early in the season.  We will have updates regarding Rex’s condition over the next weeks to come.

Our next game is this coming Saturday March, 16th against Liberty University.  The game is at home, and we would love to have you there to cheer us on against the Liberty Flames!

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Post-Game Blog: Butler

In an attempt to share our season with you, we will be writing about our game experiences on the blog. These posts will include a player telling you all about the game we recently played. Be on the lookout for more posts as the season progresses.

Rex Huffman

#32

Senior Midfielder

February 27th, a Wednesday night Taylor’s Lacrosse program gathered for a practice frustrated and disappointed. Earlier that day Wheaton had to cancel our opening game due to weather in the Chicago area. The team had been looking forward to opening the season up that Friday for what seemed like ages. Taylor’s coaches had been using a game simulation in the previous practices to prepare the team for this opening game. As Friday rolled around Coach Chey West asked the seniors to put the rest of the team through a vigorous work out to prepare for the new opening game against Butler. During this practice the players went through a difficult workout including multiple aerobic stations and sprint drills. With only one practice left, Monday night the Trojans walked through defensive and offensive formations to prepare for the new opening game against Butler.

Nick Sato’s parents graciously opened up their house in Indianapolis the day of the game providing a pregame meal and a place to spend time bonding together for the team. As Tuesday progressed snow began accumulating in the area. After arriving to the field we were greeted with an inch of snow on the ground. Proving their devotion to the sport Taylor and Butler agreed to begin the game as the snow continued to fall.

From the get go Taylor jumped on the scoreboard to lead 2-0. It was a good start for the Trojans. As the first quarter came to the end Taylor had a 3-1 lead over the Butler Bulldogs. During the second quarter we began to fall away from what Coach West and Coach Dan Patrone had been drilling into our heads all season. The offense was not maintaining the ball and forcing shots that were easily saved by Butlers goalkeeper Zach Davidoff. We also had some mental breakdowns leading to fast break goals for Butler. Defensively we began chasing the ball instead of breaking down and containing our man. Butler was able to capitalize on these mistakes getting the ball in close on Trojan goalie John Radcliff putting in 4 goals to take the lead 5-4 at half. During half time Coach West stressed to us the importance of what we had been practicing and that we were not playing our game.

Through out the third quarter we fought the uphill battle of being down one goal. Continuing to not execute and break down on defense we found ourselves down 8-7 leading into the fourth quarter. The Trojan players have always known we are not a second half team and the fourth quarter tends to be our worst of most games. Thinking back on previous years and losing to Butler we were determined to not let that happen again. We came out of our huddle ready to play our game and not make the same mental mistakes we had been falling into all game. Defensively we began to break down as we approached our man. Containing the Butler offense was key to our success. Preventing goal scoring opportunities allowed the Taylor offense more time of position and transferred into a couple fast break opportunities. The last half of the fourth quarter the Trojans began to play their game again. Matt Witt, Sam Wright and Scott Collins put in a combined 4 goals to end the game with a Trojan victory 12-9.

All together it was nice to take a win our first game of the season. Brett Ladley played an all-around great game contributing 2 goals and 5 assists to the out come. Chad Mitchell and Will Gemmel contributed a strong defensive effort with a combined 13 ground balls and numerous fast breaks. This year we have been looking to play faster lacrosse scoring more fast break goals and upping our time on attack. Offensively we broke down in many places but showed that we are on our way to changing the way we play lacrosse. Scott Collins forced a turnover by the Butler goalie leading to a Trojan goal sparking the team early in the first half. In the first and fourth quarter we played soundly in our man to man defense: containing the ball, sliding when necessary, and good communication only allowed Butler to score once in each of those quarters.

As we approach our next game versus Northwood, Friday March 8, we plan to come mentally prepared to play a full game of solid lacrosse. To reach some of the goals set earlier in the year by the team, we must execute defensively, allowing John Radcliff to make some easy saves from poor shots. We are looking to turn John’s saves into fast break opportunities. Offensively we need to come prepared to play faster than we did in the snow at Butler. Our midfielders are looking to make the easy pass getting the ball around the defense forcing them to work hard to stay in position allowing our attack the opportunity to find passing lanes to get an open shot.

During the year the coaches have tried to remove any crutches from our game that have been holding us back from reaching the next level. We want to take our game from Butler and turn it into a learning experience. Yes it was our first game and it was snowing but we need to not allow ourselves to accept our play for what it was. We have a lot more potential than we showed. We believe that this year is going to be a special one for the Taylor program and we want to prove that to the rest of the nation and we failed to do that. We want to take our next opportunity against Northwood and prove that we are an elite team in the MCLA.