Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Strong senior class set the bar higher for Kennedy lacrosse

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The Kennedy boys lacrosse team couldn’t quite match its performance last year, when it went 8-6 and posted its first winning season in school history. But the Cavaliers’ six wins in 2008 are still an upgrade on most of their prior seasons, which is enough for head coach David Heiney-Gonzalez.

‘‘It’s a lot more than I had in my first couple years, I’ll tell you that much,” he said. ‘‘The kids that are in the program now are really starting to take to lacrosse a whole lot more. I see in the future seasons above .500 happening often.”

It didn’t look like six wins would even be a possibility early in the season. After defeating Clarksburg in their opening game, 11-5, the Cavs (6-9 record) lost five games in a row. But they climbed out of the hole fast, edging Watkins Mill before blowout victories against Wheaton, Northwood and Northwest.

It was almost an entire starting lineup of seniors that Kennedy trotted out on the field this year. The only underclassman was junior Bill Okiji, who started the year at defensive midfield before moving to attack. He came on as the season drew to a close, scoring twice against Sherwood and once against Tuscarora in their 14-7 loss in the first round of the 3A-2A West Region playoffs last week, and will be expected to carry the scoring load in 2009.

But this year was a teammate’s time to shine. Senior Alex Yewdell was the workhorse on the attack line for the Cavaliers, scoring over 40 goals in addition to 10-plus assists. He will also become the first player Heiney-Gonzalez ever coached to play college lacrosse, as he will take his skills to Division III Union College (N.Y.).

The Cavaliers’ strength was on the defensive end of the field. Goalkeeper Art Adhatonsootra started every game and registered a save percentage over 58 percent, while Adriel Simon and Nadir Mechairia anchored the back line.

‘‘Nadir was our shut-down defender and Adriel was probably our best defender in terms of body position — we were strong on defense,” Heiney-Gonzalez said. ‘‘All around, this was a great group of guys to have for our run.”