Coach O Mic’d Up at Practice

The Washington and Lee sports information department mic’d up volunteer assistant coach and 2014 W&L Athletic Hall of Famer Chuck O’Connell for the team’s practice on Thursday, April 17 as the Generals prepared for their game against Virginia Wesleyan.

Hear what Coach O had to say in this W&L Men’s Lax “The Season” segment.

 

Up Next: A member of the team writes a post about Easter weekend at W&L.

Finals Week

By: Warren Berenis ’15

Junior Warren Berenis

Junior Warren Berenis

“Academics before athletics”. This motto is what Coach McCabe has drilled in us all since we arrived in Lexington as freshmen. Being in the middle of the season, lacrosse has become a part of our lives. It is an everyday routine that we all look forward to. It is often hard to focus our full attention on academics when we have two games a week because of how much effort we all put into the playing field every day. But this is finals week. This is the week that movies and commercials portray as a horror week for college students. Being in the middle of a grueling season augments the strain and pressure of exams for all of us, so surviving exam week has a whole different sense of accomplishment for all of us. Not all of us are neuroscientists like senior captain Jack Reuter.

While exam week is extremely daunting, playing lacrosse at Washington and Lee has prepared us for exactly this type of situation. We put in countless hours of work in the offseason to get to the point we are right now in the season, and this hard work translates to the classroom. You will be far-fetched to find a lacrosse player at W&L who only sits in his room every day after practice not focusing on school work. We have trained ourselves to get ahead in the classroom because of how little time we have off the field to study compared to our non-athlete colleagues. Getting ahead in school is a way of life for us, and it really pays dividends come exam time. I know I can speak for the whole team when I say that we wanted to attend W&L because of its excellent academic tradition and rigorous academics. Being able to balance both lacrosse and school work can seem impossible at times, but the types of players that Coach McCabe recruits every year are the ones who take on challenges and tackle them head-first.

Don’t get me wrong. I would do pretty much anything to get out of exam week, but I do think that we are prepared for the pressure that exams entail. We are put under a ton of pressure every day to play our best on the lacrosse field and to excel in the classroom. We all thrive under pressure, so bring on those final exams, professors. This 2014 Generals lacrosse team is on a five-game win streak, and finals won’t slow us down. While it is a nice five-day break from the grueling season, our minds will not be unfocused on our next opponent. Randolph College might think they will be playing a worn-down Generals lacrosse team, but they will be in for a surprise if they take us lightly. We put in the work all year, and we sure in hell won’t let finals dictate our play on the field.

Roanoke / Men’s Lacrosse Spring Alumni Weekend Recap

By: Gene McCabe
Head Coach

Head Coach Gene McCabe

Head Coach Gene McCabe

Your Generals defeated rival Roanoke on Saturday, March 29th in front a great crowd of students, parents and alumni. This game was designated as our unofficial spring alumni weekend. We had a great turnout despite the cloudy and misty rain conditions. Here are my thoughts on the game:

If you know anything about lacrosse you know the W&L/Noke game is a huge rivalry. Year in and year out this is one of the best games to watch on any level if you are a fan and one of the most fun to play if you are a player and coach. Both teams always bring their “A” game. It is always a physical contest and every inch of the field is contested. It really does not matter what the records are, or who has beaten who prior to this game. When it comes to this game on the schedule, you can throw out all of that stuff, burn the scouting reports, and forget about rankings. This one is going to be a 60-minute toe-to-toe battle.

This year’s game had a different feel though. Honestly a much better feel than recent games between the two of us. What was the difference you ask? One word … sportsmanship. Anyone who has seen or played in this game from pre-game to post-game in recent years would walk away from it saying what a great game of lacrosse. Too bad it was marred by poor sportsmanship from both teams. The trash talking, taunting, posturing, and unsportsmanlike behavior by both teams had reached an unacceptable level. Both coaches agreed that it was time to put a halt to it. I can proudly say that both teams followed through and from beginning to end let the lacrosse rivalry be about great lacrosse between two great programs and nothing else. I was proud to be a part of it and proud of our guys for the way they carried themselves throughout the game. My hat is off to Coach Pilat and the Roanoke players for doing the same.

Now back to the game. One of the things done well all season was start strong. “Early and often” has been a battle cry on our team since coined by first-year midfielder Jack Blair early in the season. We have been doing a pretty good job all year of coming out firing. Lately we have been firing and hitting net. This game was no different. Over the first 23 minutes of play we built a 4-0 lead. Our defense was playing very well and we were doing a great job at the face-off X.

A four-goal lead means nothing in lacrosse. It means even less when you play Roanoke. We know full well they can score in bunches. Sure enough Noke notched the next goal to make it 4-1. It was one of those classic loose ball situations in our defensive end playing 6-v-6 that somehow ended up in an unsettled situation resulting in a shot on the door step. How does Roanoke do that so well?

When Roanoke scored again to make it 4-2 at the end of the first, one might have had the sense that our momentum was starting to slip away. Our team, however, seems unphased by everything that happens in general. I have said it before, we are an unflappable group of guys. With poise and composure, we dug in. We killed a critical two-man down penalty late in the first and after giving up the second goal, controlled possession for solid stretches the rest of the quarter and played excellent defense. The score at half was 4-2.

We told the guys at half that they should expect pressure on defense and pressure in the riding game. We all knew a big key to the second half was to clear the ball well and keep the ball off the ground. We challenged them to keep playing team offense and working to get the best shot possible. I challenged them to 30 more minutes of inspired team-oriented lacrosse. I have to say I felt a sense of composure, maturity and focus from them that gave me a sense that this team was not going to let up.

There was not much scoring by either team in the third, but we managed to start quick with a goal about one minute in and we managed to win the end of the quarter with a sweet goal by senior captain Jack Reuter after a very long possession. This goal proved to be a big turning point for us. Roanoke scored in the middle of the quarter making it 6-3 after three.

In the huddle before sending the guys back out to the field, I told them to take a deep breath, relax, and go have fun. I find we are at our best when we play loose. Sometimes we tend to make things so intense that we grip our sticks too tight or think too much about making the perfect play. They seemed to respond well because we came out firing in the fourth. Over the next five minutes, we scored three times to build a 9-3 lead. It was an impressive display of lacrosse all over the field.

With 11 minutes to play and a six-goal lead it felt like time was standing still. We did not lose our focus, or necessarily stop playing well but we did play different. I blame myself for some of this, but our mentality seemed to suddenly switch from attack mode to “hold the lead” mode. This by nature slowed our pace of play and caused us to think too much in the moment. This led to some turnovers and some slight miscues on defense and in transition that allowed Roanoke to crawl back within two goals with 24 seconds left in the game. A lot of credit should go to Roanoke. They played well down the stretch and earned those goals. With that said, I think we can learn a lot from those last 11 minutes of the game that will allow us to grow as a team.

I remember not being able to relax with a two-goal lead and 24 seconds left on the clock. Jared Mitchell did a great job of tying up the ball on the faceoff and we never gave Roanoke another shot at the goal. Pheww! Generals win 9-7.

There are a few things about this game I will remember. One, our seniors led us on this day. Great play at the faceoff X from Jared Mitchell secured us a ton of possessions. Joe Wood dished out a goal and three assists on the day and Jack Reuter scooped up key ground balls and scored a huge goal at the end of the third quarter. Drew Kenavan’s tough defense all day and the unreal goal he had in transition inspired the team and caused the bench and the stands to erupt. All day long the leadership and hustle of Sean Gebhard and Tim Werner was felt on the field and on the bench.

A special thanks goes out to the alumni who returned to Lex Vegas for the game. It means so much to see you all come back and support your team. We all know that we are a close family. Seeing you guys back inspired this years team and made this day even better. Thank you for your loyalty, love, and support. Once a General, Always a General.

Starting the ODAC Season

By: Noah Lessing ’15

Junior LSM Noah Lessing

Junior LSM Noah Lessing

I speak for everyone when I say how excited I am to start the ODAC season. Getting the opportunity to play the best competition in the south is a big reason for this. But an even bigger reason is that we are all ready to put the non-conference play behind us. Filled with young players, our team has taken longer than expected to mesh on the field. As March rolled around, the faces in the locker room were optimistic, but demanded change. Since taking a greater accountability for our actions and our commitment to what we do, we’ve begun to take a step forward. Randolph-Macon this past Saturday signified the first page in a brand new book that the 2014 Generals hope to fill with memories of greatness.

This program has historically been known for strong defensive play. Watching teams rack double digits on us was demoralizing to say the least. The d-unit, myself included, needed to end the embarrassment. A loss to Mary Washington was hard to endure but we put in our first solid game of defense all year. Going into Randolph-Macon we knew we could continue to get better and it showed right away—the crew let in one goal through three quarters. Our 6v6 defense finally clicked and both keeps, Warren Berenis and Wyatt Devine, played up to the task. The only goal we let in for 45 minutes was man down and we controlled every aspect on our end of the field. For the first time in a while, our team was actually having fun. The morale was up and the bench was fiery. Watching my 44 teammates enjoying the sport we love was a beautiful sight. As a group, we couldn’t be happier with our emotional and physical performance. Our first ODAC win definitely gave us confidence, but we know that if we want to win a conference title we have a lot more work to do.

Right now nothing has been handed to this team. A preseason top-20 ranking vanished, we dropped four straight games (three of which we won last year), and we lost three All-Americans to graduation. We are by no means a star-studded team. Our identity has yet to be established. But if I had to tell you one thing I’ve learned in my life, it is that adversity itself doesn’t breed success; rather, it is how you deal with adversity that shapes your character and determines whether or not you will thrive and succeed. And if I had to tell you one thing about this team, it is that I could not be more excited to watch how we grow and respond to the upcoming challenge. The goal is to play deep into May, and we will accept nothing less.

Up Next: We mic’d up head coach Gene McCabe for the Sewanee game and you’ll get to see Generals’ gameday from the pregame through the postgame.

A Day in the Life of Senior Captain Joe Wood

The Washington and Lee Sports Information Department followed around senior captain Joe Wood on Tuesday, March 11 to to show a day in the life of a W&L student-athlete.

Wood’s day began with breakfast and two classes, which was followed by lunch and preparation for the Generals’ game at Mary Washington.  We hope you enjoy this look into the life of Joe Wood.

Up Next: A member of the team offers a written take on the Generals’ game at Randolph-Macon and talks about the onset of ODAC Conference play.

Assessing the Season’s Start

By: Head Coach Gene McCabe

Head Coach Gene McCabe

Head Coach Gene McCabe

There is a unique story to each season. Within a season there are a number of chapters that help create that story. Typically you can find common themes in each chapter which help define a team’s legacy. This is a look back at our season through the first four games, or Chapter One if you will.

Our preseason was excellent. The guys worked extremely hard everyday and most of our players returned in great shaped. I was particularly pleased with the improvement across the board in our testing areas. I believe we start the preseason stronger and more athletic than we ever have. The competition to make the roster was intense and after a demanding three weeks of practice in bitter cold temperatures we were ready for the season to begin.

Dawning Blue Cascade R helmets, new uniforms, and new gloves, the new look Generals opened the season with a solid win over Ferrum College. After a forgettable first quarter brought on by nerves, we settled in and pulled away from a tenacious Ferrum team. We went 21 for 23 on faceoffs that day. I was pleased that we were able to play everyone who was cleared to play. I know how important those minutes are for our young guys.

On the first day of February break we travelled to Newport News to take on Christopher Newport University. The weather in Lexington had prevented us from practicing mid week. We got on the bus prepared to play a game with just 80 minutes of practice under our belt. We seemed undaunted. On Saturday morning it was a cold, rainy, gross day out there and I was in a baaaad mood! (inside team joke ;)). CNU is a good team and they are well coached. We had to fight hard all day to get the win in some of the worst conditions I have coached in. Two things about this game stood out for me. One, we played as well for 60 minutes as a team as I have seen us play this early in the season. Two, the energy and support from our bench was amazing! I cannot recall that kind of sustained enthusiasm from the bench in my time here at W&L. I think we all learned a good lesson about the importance of team on that day. I believe our energy, team speed played a big part in helping us pull away from a feisty CNU team and get the win.

We had a week between games and we were on Feb break. We took Sunday and Monday off. We practiced hard Tuesday- Friday to prepare for what we knew would be an excellent Denison team. While we lost a tough game against a very good team, I was pleased with how well we played in many facets of the game. Ultimately, I came away from the game with a lot of positives. I did, however, feel we needed to shoot better, finish transition plays better, talk better and be more organized on defense.

We had another week between games to prepare for a different, but equally good Washington College team. We cut practice length down on this week because we felt like the guys were getting a little worn out from two-hour practices. We also knew that many had a lot of academic work to do. In addition, it was the last week of pledgeship and we have 14 first-year players. I was personally relieved to know our first-year guys were in the final week of the fraternity new membership education process.

We worked hard and I felt we were well prepared for WAC. I explained to the team that it was important that we bring the fight to our opponent, play with poise and composure and to play with a chip on their shoulder. Well, to be honest, I do not think we did any of that. I was disappointed with how our team showed up for the game and how we played the game throughout. I was impressed with WAC for sure, but I felt we had failed as a team to bring the level of hunger, intensity, discipline and focus needed to win big games like that. I could see that the team was disappointed in themselves. I took this loss personally and I know the staff did as well. Accountability in the face of adversity is vital to personal growth. One must look at themself and ask what they could have done better. While going in I believed we had set the right tone and sent the right messages, it was clear that we did not get our guys prepared to play at their highest level on that day.

The only real failure in life is the failure to learn and grow from setbacks and mistakes. All you can do is get up when knocked down, dust yourself off, and move forward with great resolve to improve. The way this team responds to this adversity and this loss is going to help shape the legacy of this team.

The guys knew that they would be challenged this week with demanding practices. We challenged every player to raise the level of play. We need to improve our toughness both mentally and physically. We need to be more patient and efficient as an offensive unit and we need to capitalize on the impressive number of transition opportunities we create in each game. On defense, we need to execute what we do more consistently. Playing these good teams out of conference will help our younger defense mature faster for sure.

So we currently stand at 2-2. We are closing out a good week of practice as we prepare for our annual rival game against Franklin and Marshall. This is an important road trip and I am very much looking forward to seeing how we respond after a tough loss last weekend.

Despite recent setbacks, I really like this team. There is an unflappable nature to this group. They take a lot of pride in what they do. We knew from the beginning that we would face some adversity in the early season. We are not a young team but we are undeniably a “younger” team. With that in mind there are going to be some growing pains and some tough lessons learned. From the onset, I maintained that we may not be as good (in terms of wins and losses) early on like we were last year, but I believe wholeheartedly we could be better than we were last year later in the season. No one said it better than our good friend and comrade Tony Conway, we just need to “make each day better than the last”! I am confident this team has the ability, the leadership, and the character to make this a special season.

Onward Generals!

Up Next: We follow a member of the Generals’ team around campus for our video diary “Day in the Life” series.

A Day in My Life (Jonathan Henry)

By: Jonathan Henry ’17

First-year midfielder Jonathan Henry

First-year midfielder Jonathan Henry

Today, a typical Tuesday during the season, began for me with an early alarm at 7:50 am. On good mornings, I’ll be able to shower and eat breakfast in the Dining Hall before my 8:35 class. Professor Cooper teaches my class, Philosophy 150, Environmental Ethics. Today the class, one that focuses on placing value in nature, has the topic of animal rights. For class, we had been required to read chapters from “Ethics and the Environment” by Dale Jamieson. Professor Cooper spent much of the hour and twenty-five minutes of class challenging us to think about in which instances do we include non-human beings as moral patients.

After class a fellow freshman lacrosse player who is in Professor Cooper’s class, Sam Barrett, and I head to the dining hall for a mid-morning snack. The best food you can whip up at that time has to be bumpers cereal with chocolate milk and sliced bananas. Unfortunately today, I had an Accounting 201 midterm later around 8:10 pm so after breakfast, I headed to the library to study (see Mom…).

The Dining Hall usually serves at least one good choice of food for lunch and today there happened to be a delicious nacho bar. On Tuesday’s, I have a second class, Global Politics, with two other lacrosse players, sophomore Henry Waite and freshman Chris Comerford. Today both of them presented their power points on Global dilemmas and provided great knowledge for the entire class.

As the class ended 2:50, I headed to Graham-Lees to study for my accounting test with renown freshman lacrosse player, Matt Infante. Before heading down to practice, which lasts from 4:45-6:45 on most days, we grabbed a quick PB&J and chocolate milk.

Some days we will lift before practice, or watch film of the opposing team. Today’s practice was a bruiser, consisting of up-tempo drills and plenty of conditioning.  Today’s practice lacked an enthusiastic pump up speech from the great captain, Jack Reuter, however, Sean Gebhard provided a solid one in his place. Sadly practice didn’t have any music. It did however have the beloved 300 and jingle-jangle runs, and full field work. I felt like we got better at today’s practice behind the great play of “la flama blanco” during the General’s Drill and an aggressive defense led by the ever-enthusiastic Coach Kiley. This week is especially important as we missed practice Monday due to a snow day and as we look to rebound from a disappointing performance this past weekend.

Matt Infante, a unique joke-teller who has re-energized the static stretching period, concluded the end of practice with yet another phenomenal calves joke. On normal days, days without a midterm, I will be in the locker room, listening to Baner repetitively ask for our laundry loops. Post-practice, we usually head to the dining hall as a freshmen class, enjoying the froyo machine and great dessert bar, staying there until it closes at 8pm.

After taking the midterm with other lacrosse players, such as Christian Zanetis, Andrew Riehel, Robbie Lance and Kevin Braddish (we all crushed it), I was lucky enough not to have any homework and played a quick game of Super Smash Brothers with Whit Griffin in Graham-Lees (sorry Mom…). Most nights consist of doing homework, first floor on the library with other lacrosse players, and possibly a run to the Café for a bacon sunrise sandwich. The night usually ends with a few snapchats and a goodnight call from Jack Reuter.

Up Next: Coach McCabe provides a mid-season report card.