You’ve all seen their bleach blond hair and crazy haircuts around school. We all know what that means. Yes that’s right, lacrosse season has officially begun. 

On Saturday, February 22, Maclay played Gulf Breeze High School in their season opener at the Frank Shaw Field. 

During the first quarter of the game, the teams went back and forth with possession, keeping the score close. By the second quarter and on, Maclay took control of the game, maintaining possession, staying on the offense and putting up points. 

Seniors Sam Chase and Matthew Winegardner, along with sophomore Everette Thompson, finished the game as the highest scorers. Chase closed with eight points, three goals and five assists. Both Winegardner and Thompson concluded with seven points. Other scorers during the game were sophomores Carson Rowe and Cannon Diehl and juniors Stone Foster and Liam McAbee. 

Out of the 17 shots at goal made by Gulf Breeze, junior Connor Coates saved eight, keeping Gulf Breeze in the single digits for goals during the game. 

With three goals and three assists, junior middie Stone Foster was named player of the game.

“Whenever we are going into a game, the team always prepares and figures out what we have to do in order to win,” Foster said. “This year especially, because most of us have been playing together for multiple years, the team was really able to click and we’ve formed a really good chemistry that definitely sets us apart from other teams.”

The game concluded with a 23-9 win for Maclay.

“We stayed composed throughout the game. We also played very unselfish lacrosse and that helps us put up big numbers like 23 goals. We wanted to score 23 and hold them to 5 or less.  We accomplished the first, but not the second,” Head Coach Justin VanTassel said. 

Despite the win, the team still has things they want to work on as they continue to play games leading up to the playoffs. Their next game is against Lincoln on Monday, February 24 at Gene Cox Stadium.

“We still have a lot of work to do to fix the mistakes we are making,” VanTassel said. “The team needs to work on communication and defense going into the rest of the season.  We had too many mental errors on that side of the ball. It’s a process and we are starting to get it, but good teams will expose us if we don’t tighten up our defense some.”

The team is led this year by captains sophomore Eli Paddak and seniors Sam Chase and Matthew Winegardner. Chase and Winegardner have both been on the varsity lacrosse team since eighth grade and are both signed to play division one lacrosse in college. 

“It’s weird being one of the oldest kids on the team. In the past I’ve been able to look up to the seniors but this year Matt and I are the kids everyone is looking up to,” senior captain and attack Sam Chase said. “My goal for the season is to make a good state run and hopefully win a state championship.” 

The team is not only training on the field, but also have been working out with Coach Al all year so that they can dominate and be the best they can be this season.

“We recognized almost a year ago that this season would be the best opportunity the program has ever had to win a state title. Most of us were in the weightroom all summer and playing on national travel teams to better themselves which ultimately betters the team,” Winegardner said. “We couldn’t have done it without Coach Al. He wants nothing more than for us to win and be the best athletes on the field.” 

The team will play at Lincoln on February 24.

Photo by Mary Leah Yearty

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