Lacrosse Sophomores Primed for Success

The WJ lacrosse team has always been one of the best in the area, posting a winning record each of the last three years. As a result, competition to be on the team every year is tough, especially for underclassmen.

This year, the varsity team features two talented sophomores who are both looking to make an immediate impact on the team with their play. As freshmen last year, sophomores Lewis Kirwan and Patrick Nugent served as two of the key contributors and as starters on a successful JV team last year, and are looking to bring those same contributions to the varsity team this year. Kirwan and Nugent were moved up to varsity at the end of the season last year by varsity head coach Alan Pohoryles, and both were fairly confident that they would play for varsity again this year.

”I found out I was going to play varsity last year, because at the end of the year a couple of other players and I were moved up from JV to varsity. I was not…100 percent sure that I would make it, but I was confident,” Nugent said.

Both Nugent and Kirwan made it a goal to reach the varsity level this year, with their drive to get a prestigious spot as an underclassman on the varsity team.

“I love practicing and playing at a high level of competition and intensity,” Nugent said. “This…and my desire to improve pushed me to play at that level.”

In contrast, Kirwan feels that he has already outgrown the JV level of play.

“I had already played JV for one season, and felt I [had gotten] all I could out of that program,” Kirwan said.

“I coached Lewis in 7th and 8th grade for Bethesda Lacrosse and followedPatrick in 8th grade so I knew a bit about both of them [as players],” Pohoryles said. “After successful freshman seasons on JV, I knew both of them had skill sets that would fit in on Varsity [and help the team].”

Underclassmen who play for a varsity team have a specific role in the overall dynamic of the team. According to Nugent, the advantages of being an underclassman on a varsity sports team are that the coaches are more forgiving of mistakes, because they understand that the players are younger, and he has time to learn and improve. The disadvantages include that the underclassmen have to do all of the prep and clean-up work for practices that the upperclassmen refuse to do.

“You have different duties and expectations,” Kirwan said. “Underclassmen are kind of…the followers, and they try to follow the example set by the upperclassman.”

Not only is their role in the team dynamic different, but the level of play is also different for these underclassmen, who have only experienced the JV level of high school lacrosse. Kirwan and Nugent knew that they had to make adjustments to improve their game to raise it to the varsity level, and making those adjustments in their game began in the offseason.

“To adjust to the different style of play I have tried to become quicker [at getting] around and past defenders. I also began to lift weights to gain some strength in [dealing] with the larger upperclassmen,” Nugent said.

Pohoryles said they are progressing in their play, but that there is still work to be done.

”So far, so good, however they both have a lot of hard work ahead of them to work their way into the starting lineup,” he said.

While team goals for lacrosse are always lofty, the players are also striving to reach individual goals to establish themselves on the varsity level. Nugent wants to establish comfort on the field by acquiring more game experience, and Kirwan feels similarly.

“Specifically, I want to improve my situational awareness in game situations,” Kirwan said.

The players’ career on the varsity team began with their March 21 matchup with Clarksburg. With all of the blood, sweat, and tears that these two players have already put in, it is only a matter of time before they are making a big impact on WJ lacrosse in their quest for a state championship.