By: Kevin McLane –
With the first few days of spring 2016 come and gone, this season’s Rebel boys’ lacrosse team can be found hard at work on Merrick Athletic Field. As the season fast approaches, the boys still have a lot of preparation before their first game which is on Tuesday, March 29th. It was just three years ago that the lacrosse team went all the way boasting a 16-1 record and winning their first and only WPIAL championship. The past few years the team has been in decline after having two senior heavy teams. It is hard to come back strong in any sport when most of the team is seniors, lacrosse is no exception. It is also hard to maintain greatness without stability and that is certainly a quality the team has lacked with having 3 different coaches in 4 years. However, while current coach Kevin Devinney has been faced with quite the project, he remains confident in his team’s ability to make waves this upcoming season.
When asked how he felt about the upcoming season he stayed optimistic about the ability of his players, despite their lack of experience. Devinney said, “Definitely better than last year. We have a lot of guys on the team this year who are one more year experienced than they were last year so we have a lot of returning starters. We are still a younger team but I still expect them to step up and fill the gaps left by the seniors.”
Devinney’s confidence certainly seems contagious as his team appears to have bought in and whole heartedly agree with this teams potential. When asked about his vision for the season, second year player and sophomore defenseman Nick McNally said, “I expect our team to have a better season than last year.”
Despite all the confidence being exuded by the team, there is no denying the obvious gaps left by the previous two senior classes. Again, however, Devinney is not phased, stating, “We have about a dozen first year players this year that are multi-sport athletes so I expect those guys to step into the team right away and make a contribution.”
First year player and Mt. Lebanon transfer, Dan Horn hopes to live up to his coaches’ expectations but admits it was nerve racking starting a new sport on a new team in a new school. When asked about what it was like to transfer into the Rebel community he said, “It was kind of intimidating at first, but it’s fun because everyone was really nice and welcoming.
As for his thoughts about this season, Horn is staying confident about his team’s morale and determination, stating, “I think that this year everyone is a lot more eager to do better because last year wasn’t that good so I think this year everyone is a lot more excited and we will do good.”
While he did not attend or play for Seton last year he was close to the programs successes and failures as he was very close to Rebel standout Matthew Lackner who ended up moving school districts and transferring to Mt. Lebanon.
With the loss of a major talent like Lackner, it is up to other standout players to carry the extra weight. One of these players is junior and third year defenseman, Christian Weyrich. Weyrich knows that this year will be challenge but boasts the same confidence as his coach and teammate saying,“I think we will do good. We just have to put in the work and the W’s should follow after that.”
However, he is certainly aware the effects of complacently going into a game can have. He goes on to say that, “Any opponent can be tough, it just depends on how we prepare the week before. We need to go into the game with the mindset that anybody can win on any day.”
Weyrich also does not seem phased about the lack of seniors let alone senior leadership, when asked about what it is like to play on a team where the majority of the leadership comes from the junior class, he responded by saying, “I wouldn’t say it’s anything different than it coming from seniors. We just have a lot of juniors and they know how to be leaders.”
It is undeniable that the Rebels will be fighting an uphill battle to once again become relevant in the WPIAL lacrosse landscape. However, it is also undeniable that this team certainly holds no qualms about their ability to perform and succeed regardless of age or experience. In true underdog fashion, the Rebels will look to shock the WPIAL this season by reclaiming the title of “champion” that was once theirs.