Boys Varsity Lax Season Review: “Keep That Same Energy”

Ben Colao, Staff Writer

On Saturday, May 7th, the Dodgers (seeded eighth) traveled to face off against Caldwell (seeded first) for the second round of the state tournament. Having scrimmaged against them in the very beginning of the season, we knew they had certainly earned their seeding, and that beating them would be no easy task. However, as much as we recognized their strengths, we also recognized their weaknesses – namely that they were looking past us. Caldwell was the heavy favorite to win, and we knew why: we are an up and coming team, sure, but still one with plenty of poor losses under our belt, and one with an even worse reputation from the past few years. But, these things couldn’t have been further from our minds in the hours leading up to that game. Our improvement as a team was undeniable, and if we played our hearts out maybe – just maybe – we could catch Caldwell off guard and throw them into a hectic downward spiral that they wouldn’t be able to recover from. One of our senior captains, Joe Carfano, put it well when he said: “I’m leaving this game with a dub or on a stretcher.” That is to say, none of us were about to let this game end in a defeat without giving it everything we had.

From the first whistle to the last, the Dodgers would fight tooth and nail – throwing the Chiefs against the ropes for a majority of the game. Each faceoff was a fierce contest, with not a single fastbreak allowed for Caldwell, and a majority of faceoffs won for the Dodgers. What time Caldwell would have on settled offense would have to be earned dearly, as fierce rides and a calculated slide and recovery man defense minimized possession time and quality shots on cage. On the other side of the field, Madison’s attackmen and offensive midfielders worked relentlessly for opportunities to score, earning several quality shots on cage on settled and transition possessions. Though Caldwell would score first, Madison would match it before the end of the first half. They would go on to score twice more, and this lead would be maintained through to the end of the third quarter; but in the fourth, the tide turned for the worse. Though Madison slid hard and often to Caldwell’s star shooters, some well-timed dodges and opportunities in transition earned them two goals, which – coupled with two in the third – would ultimately hand them the win, 5-3. The game was hard fought, from beginning to end, and had a few more plays gone our way, maybe it would’ve been different; nevertheless, the result is the same. 

Faced now with the task of reviewing this season, there’s a lot on my mind. Lacrosse has been a near daily commitment for me for the past few months, and there’s just so much to look back on. But, without going into interminable detail, this team was undoubtedly one of the best I’ve ever had the opportunity to be a part of. Not necessarily because we had a strong record, or that I had a lot of playing time, but because of my teammates. Each and every one of them made this team a joy to be a part of, and the success we experienced was in no small part to the hard work and commitment they demonstrated as players on and off the field. Consistent readers of these articles may note my common reference to Joe Carfano, and he – along with the other seniors – stand as inspiration to me for their incredible kindness, passion, and dedication they showed throughout, to make this season as successful as it could be. 

Now, looking at the big picture, I turn again to another common quip of Carfano’s; often said before breaking it down and in pre-game warm-ups: “Keep that same energy.” The meaning of the phrase is two-fold – as both a message to ourselves to maintain our resolve and a taunt in response to the screams and cheers from our more emotional adversaries; daring them to stay that confident once we crushed them. In a broader sense, I believe this phrase accurately depicts the position of Madison’s lacrosse program following the conclusion of this season and looking ahead to the next. Madison has had some struggling seasons in lacrosse of late and has been commonly seen and jeered at as a weaker team (last year, many teams scheduled Madison as their senior day match). But now, our ability to succeed is without question: We’ve hung around with teams that compete at the highest level of competition in the state, and beaten many that once held the perception that Madison would be “an easy game.”  We as a team have transformed from a somewhat jumbled mess of passionate players without direction, to one far more disciplined and adept at executing systems put in place by our coaches to succeed, but this has not come magically. Rather, every inch of progress we’ve made has come from extreme effort and energy, and so maintaining the resolve to put in that level of work in the months to come will prove crucial in continuing the newfound success of the program. And, as a player, I can’t look forward more to putting that work in and making next season even greater than this one.

Go Dodgers, and Thank You, Seniors.