By: James Mallon
Four years ago, the Rebel Lacrosse team began an unlikely journey. A new team with little to no experience at playing lacrosse, they at first lacked experience, organization, and the ability to win. In one of the first scrimmages of the new team, they were defeated 31-1 by Baldwin. The rookie rebel lacrosse team recorded just one win in their opening season, coming in the final game by one goal. Three years later, the Rebel Lacrosse team were hoisting the WPIAL trophy with gold around their necks.
So what happened in three short years to bring the Rebels from the bottom to the top? What took them from a disorganized, inexperienced team into the disciplined, talented lacrosse team they are today? It can be narrowed down into three aspects- coaching, talent, and the improvement developed through practice.
First, the Rebels were blessed with an excellent coaching. Founding coach Josh Kurtz led the program for three years, turning a team with little lacrosse experience into a program. He was supported by assistant coaches such as Mike Vaughn and Bob Bashaw. Then, after he moved to Boston for work related issues, Brian Yates took over the program.
Coach Yates has been around lacrosse since his childhood, and played at Maryland. He surrounded himself with other coaches specializing in offense, faceoffs, and goalkeeping. Both of these coahes proved essential in providing the insight and knowledge necessary to become a great team.
Talent with experience, is obviously another key factor in success. Unlike many public schools, the lacrosse teams that compete against Seton-La Salle does not have a feeder system. However, we have been lucky enough to receive several players with pre- high school experience. The offense, consisting of Colin Bashaw, Conor Quinlin, and Matt McGervey had all played lacrosse for different teams before high school. Their experience paid off, as the offense excelled often inflicting the ‘mercy rule’ on inferior teams.
The most defining characteristic, however, is clearly improvement. Striving to compete and striving to improve skills, technique, physicality and more is what has anchored the lacrosse teams growth. It starts in the net with Kevin Hudson. Due to a hip problem, Kevin moved from the field into the net when he came to high school. Kevin is now an All-Section player and a staple for defense and consistency.
The defense, Liam McLane, Jacob Blahut, and Mike Kalnas, are all football or ex-football players that learned lacrosse in high school. They are now one of the best and most disciplined defenses in the WPIAL.
The midfielders follow a similar story. Dom Tolomeo has become an intrinsic part to success, especially with faceoffs. Players like Anthony Shoplik and Noah Kaib mixed their athletic capabilities with a tendency to work to create a winning combination. Michael Pritchard, Robert Lomire, and Brendan Donovan also were an essential part to the team as second line middies who learned the majority of their lacrosse skills in high school.
These intangibles combined with quantifiable effort, led the Rebels to rise to the top of Division II in a small amount of time. Look for them to be on display next year as the Boy’s Lacrosse team looks to defend their title.