Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Blue Devil boys lacrosse was better than expected, even by them

Springbrook bows out to Wootton

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Springbrook boys lacrosse head coach Darren Murray came into his first year at the helm with the idea that it was going to be a struggle all year long. As it turns out, it wasn’t as difficult as he expected.

As a team that lost almost all their key cogs from the year before — when the Blue Devils registered 13 wins, a trip to the 4A-3A West Region final and the best season in school history — Murray’s expectations weren’t nearly as high. This year, he just wanted his team to compete.

That’s exactly what they did, and then some. The Blue Devils (5-8 record) even won a playoff game with a 2-0 win over Blair. It was the second time they beat the Blazers, a team that finished with a winning percentage over .500. Even in their season-ending 12-1 loss to powerful Wootton in the 4A-3A West Region quarterfinals over the weekend, they only trailed 3-1 at halftime.

All told, they took their lumps with a squad of almost all new starters.

‘‘It’s been an uphill battle —we had some tough injuries as well,” said Murray. ‘‘But the guys really came together in the last game. The experience factor was big. Honestly, we were lucky enough to play Wootton two times.”

Suddenly, the future for Springbrook lacrosse looks a lot brighter than it did even a month ago. It was a team that at one point was defined by losses. It started out with their four leading-scorers from last year, including All-Gazette first-team midfielder Ben Simmons and Mark Pim, their only previous head coach in school history.

Then came more crushing losses specific to the 2008 season — defender Dan Oliver, one of only two starters returning from a year ago, tore a ligament in his ankle in the season-opener against Walter Johnson. And the team’s only senior middie, Carlo Galeano, missed much of the season with stress fractures in each leg.

But a pair of Blue Devils stepped into the breach and carried much of the load. Senior attackman Mike Winogradoff was far and away the team’s leading scorer, who Murray called ‘‘a one-man show a lot of times this year.” On the other side of the field was senior goalkeeper Tim Hood, in his first year starting between the pipes, who was awesome down the stretch of the season. He recorded two shutouts in May, including the playoff victory over Blair in which he stopped 17 shots on goal.

Though both will be gone, the middie line holds the key to tomorrow for Springbrook. Sophomores Alex Abramson — whose brother Dave graduated a year ago and was a four-year starter — and Joe Galeano (Carlo’s brother) played the entire game in their finale at Wootton.

‘‘Those guys are going to be big for us the next couple years,” said Murray. ‘‘Whenever you play talent, it only makes you better, and we had sophomores running up and down the field with seniors. It will make us better in the future.”