By: Sam Bloomberg
After ending last year’s season with a 3-11 record, the Gilman Varsity lacrosse team looks to bounce back with a large number of returning starters accompanied by a variety of skilled freshmen. This year they are competing in an 18 game season in the MIAA A Conference. In the past, Gilman has been a dominant force in lacrosse, but due to injuries and graduating seniors, recent years have shown less than stellar results.
This year, however, is different. Captain Wade Oursler (’17) notes, “There is a really dedicated group of seniors, and the attitude during try-outs so far has been intense and upbeat. Everyone is excited and playing a lot harder.” The upbeat attitude and intensity began last summer immediately after the season ended. Coach Brooks Matthews (’87) explains, “We did four or five tournaments over the summer with a bunch of different guys through the program, and played together two days over the fall.” In addition to the summer and fall tournaments, the team has held optional Saturday practices for eight weeks throughout the winter. These practices focused on skill development and learning how Coach Matthews wanted to run the program this year. Because of the high attendance at the practices and the energy brought to them, there has been a large amount of momentum going into this season.
Oursler is also encouraged by the number of veterans on this year’s team: “We’ve returned most of our starters on offense, and that’s going to be really beneficial. [As well as] most of the seniors have been on the team since sophomore year so there’s a lot of experience, and a lot of guys are ready to go and know what to expect.” This strong senior leadership includes two captains Oursler and Taylor Cashman (’17), accompanied by sophomore and junior varsity returners, allowed them to kick off the season with a win against Norfolk Academy on March 18.
The availability of varsity-ready players is promising to the team. As Coach Matthews puts it, “The freshman class is strong… there are a lot of good players, and it’s deep. For the program, that’s outstanding. It’s going to really bolster us this year, and in the next few years.” Matthews notes that while these freshman still have to go through the tryout process, whether they are on varsity or not, the skill level of the underclassmen will significantly strengthen both the JV and Fresh-Soph teams.
Clearly, the lacrosse team is making strides to get back on its horse and be a force to reckon with in the MIAA A conference. Hopefully, with all of these returning players and the strong set of incoming players, they will have a strong 2017 season.