May 08, 2013 - By Reiker Canfield
First Row: Andrew Dutzy, Kevin Dutzy, Joe Bonino, Bobby Carr, Kyle Anderson, Piper Thaler, Jonathan Doslak, Ross Chapman and Adam Cole. Second Row:Marco Campagiorni Travis Simat, Nathan Tilley , Jared Tasch, Ryan Kimbrough, Alex Schlueter, Lars Joergens-Kotate , Louie Urban. Third Row :Defensive Coach Don Nowicki, Austin Kreshock, Owen Bachusz, Scott Randall, Ethan Duke, Dominic Biolichini, Noah Grove and Head Coach Greg Normand. Photo submitted. (click for larger version)
Special to the Leader
What a difference a year makes?
The youthful look of the Oxford varsity lacrosse team has taken on a veteran image in the spring of 2013 and has hopefully matured enough to take a giant leap forward in the Oakland Activities Association.
The Wildcats (11-8) came off their first winning season in school history and are still hoping to build on the off-season momentum that has carried them so far to a 6-4 record.
"Theoff-season conditioning and practice has helped, but I really think it made a difference once we start playing…..then, and only then, these guys realized that out-working your opponent is the only way you get better," said Greg Normand, Oxford's men's head lacrosse coach.
Normand said this might be the biggest and quickest defense he's coached since his St. Mary's team played in a state final in 2009.
"We're big and mobile and not afraid of much," he said.
The defense will carry the Wildcats, experts have said, because of an off-season move.
Normand moved Piper Thaler (6'3, 220), an All-State attack with more than 100 points, to the back line. The move gives the defense an offensive presence on clears and transition.
Thaler will be joined by last year's starters Owen Bachusz (6'3, 215) and Dominic Biolchini (6'2, 182), who improved dramatically in the off-season. Bobby Carr (6'2,174) has worked as the longstick midfielder and could be the best on-ball defender the Wildcats has this year.
One of the brightest additions to the defense is senior Kyle Anderson (6'4, 218), who didn't play last year because of injuries, but is picking up the lacrosse skills quickly.
Alex Schlueter (5'9, 167), a junior and member of the Wildcat hockey team, could prove to be a valuable defensive midfielder. Schlueter gives Oxford a 'tough' defensive presence, Nowicki said.
Jared Tasch (5'6, 135), a sophomore, is the Wildcats' goalie for the second year in a row.
While the defense has been vastly improved, the Wildcat offense was the biggest question mark this spring.
Austin Kreshock (5'10, 155), a sophomore, again paired with sophomores Noah Grove (5'9, 153) and Nathan Tilley (5'9, 157) to form one midfield line, said the Oxford coaching staff.
Normand said Kreshock and Grove have college potential and have been counted on this year to carry much of the offensive load.
The second midfield line will be anchored by senior captains Kevin Dutzy (5'9, 167) and Joey Bonino (6'1, 175). The third member of the second line will come from an early season audition of several players including Jonathan Doslak (5'11, 163) and freshman Ryan Kimbrough (5'11, 168).
At attack, Oxford is still a work in progress, but part of that formula is youthful enthusiasm. Three of the rotating attack is sophomores. Scott Randall (6'3, 197), Ethan Duke (6'4, 234) and Lars Joergens-Kokate (5'7, 138) entered their second year of varsity competition and have improved in the off-season. Junior Travis Simat (5'6, 137) is an All-OAA soccer performer and should provide stability at the crease and X attack positions, but it is left-handed senior Adam Cole (5'9, 188) that holds to the key to the Wildcats' offense potential.
Normand said Randall has the biggest upside of any player on the Oxford varsity.
Oxford will face Royal Oak at home on May 8 starting at 7 p.m. before traveling on the road to face Kalkaska High School on May 10.