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Lacrosse team looks to turn experience into success



Lacrosse
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Front Row L-R: Christian Lopez, Garrett Kovacic, Ryan Defever, Cody Lyons, Sven Joergens-Kokate, Derek Kokesh Second Row L-R: Josh Kimbrough, Tyler McDonald, Connor McGarry, Corey Bell, Konrad Thaler, Joe Plontus, Tim Dutzy Third Row L-R: Coach Joe Zmikly, Eric Domenico, Piper Thaler, Will Garrett, Nolan Salani, Derick Miller, Austin Bryant, Harley Muscarella Fourth Row L-R: Spencer Fulk, Kevin Biolchini, Dwight Merrill, Brandon Barber (click for larger version)
March 30, 2011 - By Andrew Moser

Leader Staff Writer

The varsity lacrosse team suffered through the lumps of going from the club level to a full varsity sport last season, failing to record a win in their first season on the varsity level.

Head Coach Joe Zmikly is optimistic heading into this season based on the vast amount of experience his players earned last year.

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"It is still a young program. There are still a lot of young guys brand new to the sport that haven't played before, but the guys who have played have one more year of experience and hopefully that will help out," Zmikly said.

The program, which was a club sport three years ago, enters it's second varsity season with 13 seniors, nine juniors and one sophomore on the squad.

That experience is going to be the key for the program to take the next step.

Zmikly said expectations will be higher this year. "The first year as a varsity sport, a lot of the kids didn't expect to do so well," Zmikly said. "They had past experiences where they weren't successful; they didn't know how to win or how to compete at the varsity level."

"This year, my hope is we want to expect to compete hard and expect higher things of ourselves."

"We have our own internal goals as a team that we talked about...but our goals and our expectation is to work as hard as we can, be the best team we can be and be as successful as we can be on the field."

Zmikly admits the schedule is going to be tough as Oxford finds itself facing many of the top lacrosse teams in the state; most of them residing within Oakland County borders.

"This is where most of the better lacrosse teams are; Lake Orion, Troy, they are good programs and that is where we are trying to get to," he said.

This year, Zmikly is going to count on senior captains Will Garrett and Austin Bryant.

"Will is a quiet leader...he is a hard worker and he knows the defense and is just a good team guy," Zmikly said.

He gave the same praise towards Bryant.

"The guys respect him," Zmikly said. "He says what needs to be said when it needs to be said and he is also a hard worker. He is there at the front of the lines when we do drills and leads by example."

Zmikly expects big things from sophomore Piper Thaler, who he considers the team's most skilled player. Adding to the offensive attack will be junior midfielders, Cody Lyons, Derick Miller and Nolan Salani, who spent most of last season honing their skills on the junior varsity squad.

Zmikly sees the team's focus on discipline and fundamentals as the strength of the program. "That is what we have been harping on the first (few practices)," he said.

They opened up at home against Bay City Western on Tuesday, March 29.

Andrew Moser is a staff writer for the Oxford Leader.
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