Ireton boys lacrosse celebrates first win in a year

Ireton boys lacrosse celebrates first win in a year

By Chris Teale (Photo/Chris Teale)

At the final buzzer, the relief and the jubilation were palpable around Fannon Field, as Bishop Ireton’s boys lacrosse team celebrated their first victory in league play in a year as they snuck past Maret High School 8-7.

The Cardinals had not been victorious since March 13, 2014, when they beat St. Andrew’s Episcopal on the road, but under new head coach Brandon Rose, the program has resolved to improve and grow after some disappointing seasons in the past.

That desire to improve is symbolized by the slogan “100%” on the bottom of the team’s warm-up jerseys. For Rose, who became head coach at Ireton after being lead varsity assistant coach at Episcopal, that concept of maximum effort is crucial for his team.

“That’s their slogan this year, for no matter what you do — and I understand there’s going to be a lot of mistakes you make in a new system — but you need to be going at 100 percent at all times,” he said. “At least that way you’re still putting in the effort and everything else.

“You’re going to find you’re going to hit a brick wall and you’re not going to be able to do things, but if you go at 100 percent, you’re going to find some success somewhere.”

The game itself was a tight one as both teams kept up a frenetic pace of play. Maret stormed into a 3-0 lead early in the second quarter, but Ireton came roaring back and took a 4-3 lead as time expired in the first half. The Frogs went ahead on another two occasions, but David Dorsett drew the teams level in the fourth quarter at 7-7 and also completed a hat trick.

Then, with just 2:52 left in the game and with Maret holding a man advantage, Antonio Caffi scored the winner for the Cardinals, who then wound down the clock and secured the victory.

After such a topsy-turvy encounter in which they came back from deficits three times, Rose was happy with his side’s efforts but knows they still have a long way to go.

“It wasn’t bad,” he said. “We’ve got some things to work on. Luckily we came and fought back after the first quarter to tie and eventually go ahead at the end of the half, but there’s definitely some things we’ve got to work on to get better and improve throughout the season.

“I’m happy that we had that fight in us to [come back]. We didn’t continue to quit, and we kept going forward to pull out the victory.”

The hard work of rallying when behind fits in with the ethos that Rose has brought to the team in his new role, and is something the players already are appreciating after years of losing records.

“He’s brought in a real blue-collar work ethic to this team,” senior Ciaran Lewis said after the game. “He’s teaching us the right way to play lacrosse. It’s a relief to have a coach who knows the game, the ins and outs, and he can bring up the young guys and teach them how to properly play the game — ground balls, penalties, how to shoot.”

One thing that remains important also is reducing mental errors and learning to deal with them when they happen, something that Rose continually emphasizes to his squad in games and practice.

“I’d say the game is almost completely mental, and that’s where a lot of our errors came in,” junior goalkeeper Ryan Verducci said. “We’ve got guys on the field right now working to shoot. We’ve got to keep our work ethic up, and that’s something that Coach Rose has definitely instilled in us, which is critical.

“While we’re playing, your mistakes are very minor things in the grand scheme of the game. If you fail to pick up a ground ball, you’ve just got to get back onto defense; you’ve got to get the next one. For the most part there’s always a second chance.”

The win gives the Cardinals some much-needed momentum and confidence, having started with an 0-3 record and lost 7-6 in overtime to Rockhurst of Kansas City, Mo. in their home opener. With this victory under their belts, Ireton is hopeful of further success.

“I know Bishop Ireton’s been down for the past few years, and I wanted to come over here and help these guys learn the game and be successful,” Rose said. “I think we’re starting to get there, but we’ve got a long way to go.

“We’re going to focus on fundamentals and just changing the aura of the program itself. We’ve brought in a new attitude into it and we’ll go from there. It may take a couple of years to get this turned around, and it’s just small simple mistakes that we need to fix. I think we’ll improve greatly once we fix those ourselves.”

“Confidence right now is really high,” sophomore Niall Lewis said. “We want to [keep winning], and just keep building from there.”