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Sports

Green boys lacrosse planning on successful season

4/20/2017 - South Side Leader
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By Sean Patrick

GREEN — Head coach Richard Keefe called this year’s Green High School boys lacrosse team “an all-around stronger team” than the 2016 version.

“We have improved in all areas from last year,” he said. “It helps we had a lot of returning players from last year’s roster but have added and developed some underclassmen as well.”

Last season, Keefe said, Green finished 7-11 and lost in the first round of the playoffs to Stow. This year, the team was out to a 4-2 start through April 18.

“We started 4-0 and have had two tough losses to experienced teams in North Canton Hoover and Strongsville,” the coach said. “We have improved the number of offensive possessions we get but still need to increase the quality of the possession. They have shown great improvement in pace of play, but are still growing in field sense and composure.”

Keefe said this year’s team has a strong core of seniors. Those players (with comments on each by the coach) are as follows:

• Tony Crouse (captain): “He is a very solid goalkeeper and intelligent player. He is the leader of the team and helps collect and organize the defense.”

• Jimmy Gibson (captain): “He is an extremely active player all over the field. He led the team in ground balls last year, contributes on offense and was first-team all-region last year.”

• Mark Dawson: “He is a solid defender who has learned the game quickly and plays great one-on-one defense. He was voted second-team all-region for defense last season.”

• Mark Klein: “He has a strong knowledge of lacrosse and passion for the game. He anchors man-down defense and has played multiple roles with the team over his seasons playing for Green.”

• Jake Wherely: “His defense helps motivate the team. He is a role player in the defense and he hustles.”

• Tony Broz: “He is very athletic and quick. He has a very improved shot and is expected to contribute to the offense in transition this year.”

• Patrick Painter: “This is his first year playing. He is very athletic and his skill set has grown quickly. He has worked into the rotation on the field after only a few games because of his work ethic and determination.”

• Shane Nichols: “He has a very skilled stick and is always looking to feed teammates to facilitate offense. He has great agility.”

In addition, Keefe said, a number of other players are stepping up and playing key roles for this year’s squad.

“Freshman Jonathan Paulus helps gain us extra possessions and controls the pace of the game. He is very skilled,” the coach said. “We plan to use sophomore Issac Kinitias all over the field because of his unique skill set and speed. We hope he can progress into a leadership role as the season moves on. Sophomore Nathan Davis is a great shooter and we hope to improve his dodging ability to make him a true dual-threat attackman. Freshman Brett Simmons has great lacrosse knowledge, shot and skill set. We hope to build his confidence to be a true all-around attack player who could compete with the best in the region by the time he graduates. Sophomore Kage Williams is a second-year player, but his athletic ability and work ethic through the offseason have landed him a starting spot on the varsity team. He is a true two-way midfielder who can play offense and defense. Junior Chace Oravec is a two-way midfielder with exceptional one-on-one dodging ability. He can create his own shot when needed.”

Keefe said the next few games are important ones for Green.

“We have big games in Division I coming up the next few weeks,” he said. “We hope to build our grit and team toughness over the next few weeks to help us develop into a solid competitor in our region. We are such a young team again this year, we have to work on mental poise and patience as a group, not to rush the game and handle the mental stress in tough or pressured situations better.”

As the season continues to progress, Keefe said he is setting up goals for the program not only for this year, but also for the future.

“We would like to finish at least 12-5 for the season and win at least a first-round playoff game and hopefully a second-round game,” he said. “I’d like to see our underclass develop and fill roles the departing seniors will be leaving upon graduation. We have a lot of talented individuals that are working on meshing as a group. It’s the coaches’ job to help the young guys see the vision and hopefully keep improving as the season goes without falling into any ruts.”

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