FARMER'S KORNER - Head coach Michael O'Neill admitted that his team's first outdoor practice of the season on Tuesday was "a bit sloppy."
But that didn't bother him at all - not even with the Tiger boys' lacrosse team two days away from tonight's season opener.
"That's the way it's been in the past: We get out there on the first day, and all the kids are like, 'Man, this field is huge,'" the coach said. "I'm just glad that we finally won't have that (feeling) in our first game of the season."
No, tonight Summit's players will have a much different feeling.
When the Tigers take on Machebeuf at Molybdenum Climax Field at Tiger Stadium at 4 p.m., every member of Summit's roster will be playing in their first-ever home game.
"It'll definitely be fun, and pretty different, to actually get to play at home this year," senior defender Sonny Magrino said.
In Magrino's four years with the Tiger lacrosse team, he hasn't once played a game at Farmer's Korner. With the field buried in snow every spring, Magrino and his teammates were forced into the SHS gymnasium for practice and onto the bus for a schedule full of road games.
Now, with the new artificial turf field at The Mine, the Tigers will get to practice outdoors nearly the entire season, not to mention play a normal schedule for once.
"We've been practicing in the gym for the last four years, so (the new field) definitely helps us," Magrino said.
Fellow senior Sam Dudick said that his team - despite only two days out on the turf (Tuesday and Wednesday) - is already "way ahead" of where they were last year.
"It's nice to be on a field for once before we play our first game," Dudick added. "Everyone can see how big it is, and it'll help us with our movement."
Summit graduated only one of its starters from last season's team, and with the full slate of home games, the Tigers are expecting big things this spring.
O'Neill said that his team's goal is to win the Mountain League. To do so, the Tigers need to get past Steamboat Springs.
"Steamboat beat us twice last year," O'Neill said. "In defense, though, last year we played them in our second game, which was our second day outside. Then we played them in our third game, which was our third day outside."
This year, the Tigers play Steamboat April 3 on the road - Summit's eighth game of the spring.
"That'll be a big game for us," O'Neill added.
The Tiger coach feels that his experienced roster will help carry Summit to a lot of wins against the other mountain teams and maybe even a few against the Front Range squads.
O'Neill's son, Shamus, will be one Tiger senior that could help lead the team offensively. The same goes for midfielders Brandon Major and Rick Dreyer and attackmen Dudick, Dylan Horan and Michael Daniels.
Magrino and junior Kyle Metzger look to be the anchors of the defensive core, O'Neill said.
The players, though, give an additional reason for their success as a program: their coach.
O'Neill was an all-American and national player of the year in lacrosse for Johns Hopkins in the 1970s. He's also a member of the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame.
"The past four years, since I was a freshman, I've worked with him, and he's really helped me to improve as a player," Dudick said. "I definitely listen to everything that he's telling us, because he definitely knows what he's talking about."
Both Magrino and Dudick hope all the experience adds up to a lengthy playoff run.
Although they'll have to wait to see how it plays out, one thing they do know is they have a head start on teams in the past.
"It's definitely going to help us, being outside and everything," Dudick said. "A lot better than last year."