New-look Tiger boys’ lax team ‘ready to rock’
summit daily news
FARMER’S KORNER – Senior captain Brian Metzger laughed when trying to think of a way to describe how his team’s practices have changed so far this year.
“Well, we’ll definitely be in shape,” he said. “This year’s been crazy. I mean, we didn’t run a single time last year.”
Running – for conditioning and discipline – has played a big part in the early going for the Summit High boys’ lacrosse team, as the Tigers are going through a full-scale change in the program.
Everything from the coaching staff to the basic line drills has changed for the Tigers, and it’s all part of a plan to improve upon the team’s one constant over the last few seasons – winning.
“There are some things that are really different for some of them,” first-year head coach Karl Barth said. ” … Compared to last year, there are some changes.”
Summit opens the season today at home against Green Mountain High School, and from the very first faceoff, the Tigers are hoping to establish themselves among the elite teams, not just in the Mountain League but in the state.
“We’re trying not to be cocky, but we expect to go far,” Metzger said. “We want to win conference and want to make it far into the playoffs, too.”
A league title, state title, playoff wins – they’re all listed on the team’s “to do” list. But, more than anything, the players said they want to change the perception about their team, they want to show people what Tiger lacrosse is all about.
“We want to change the appearance of the lacrosse team across the county,” junior midfielder Nick Raymond said. “We’re hard-working, we’re more of a team this year than we’ve been. We’re doing all the little things you need to do (to win).”
And the new coaching staff’s approach is helping them get there.
Barth, who played college lacrosse at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), is the coach of the Tigers’ two-time national champion girls’ rugby team, as well as the head coach in alpine skiing. He obviously brings a wealth of winning experience to the program, but he admitted to being a little rusty with the sport. So, he got some coaching pointers – from one of the legends of the game.
“I went down to (the University of) Denver and sat on the sideline for a practice,” he said, “and I talked with (Hall of Fame coach Bill) Tierney and his staff afterwards.”
Still, all the coaching philosophies and drills don’t matter too much without strong players to run them.
Luckily, the Tigers have plenty of those.
Summit’s defense will be among the best in the Mountain League, with Metzger anchoring a group that includes his cousin Kyle Metzger and seniors AJ Pestello and Ian McCluskie.
“Defense will be our strong suit going into the season,” Barth said. “It’ll take a little longer for them to start clicking up front. We’re running a lot of new stuff.”
Up front, George Gruber and Sean Farley should help provide scoring, and Raymond will highlight a strong and athletic, if not a little inexperienced, group of midfielders.
“We’ve got strength in all positions, and we’re really coming together as a team this year,” Raymond said.
The Tigers start the season with a grueling stretch of six games in 12 days.
It’s a good thing they’ve been working on conditioning.
“This year, we’ve amped it up,” attackman Ben Daniels said, “and we’re ready to rock.”
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