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Three Penny Press

The student news site of Bellaire High School

Three Penny Press

The student news site of Bellaire High School

Three Penny Press

From role-players to leaders

Lacrosse hosts out-of-district double header
Alex Lin
Junior two-way midfielder Leo Dale dodges past his defender in his second game of the day. Junior two-way midfielder Zach Foust positions himself as an outlet for Dale.

Pads drenched in sweat, JV and varsity long-stick-midfielder sophomore Brayden Nguyen lined up on the wing, ready to play in his fifth game of the week.

On March 2, lacrosse hosted a double header against St. Michael’s Catholic Academy with both varsity and JV losing in respective 6-3 and 5-2 losses.

As a Texas High School Lacrosse League class C team, St. Michael’s is classified on the same level as Bellaire. However, St. Michael’s plays in the Central district, primarily out of Austin, so the game was classified as non-district meaning the loss did not affect its future playoff standing.

Brayden Nguyen slides into the crease after a shot attempt. He switched to a short stick after the varsity game to try to facilitate JV’s offense better. (Alex Lin)

Although the loss had no effect on its playoff chances, varsity said the game was a wake-up call.

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“This whole season we’ve been saying whoever wins our district is gonna win state,” junior goalie and varsity captain Hayden Hessel said. “Our biggest competition was going to be George Ranch or Clear Springs, but now I’m not sure.”

Varsity’s strong defensive performance was overshadowed by the offense’s failure to produce goals and establish a strong transitional grade.

“We couldn’t pass,” varsity junior attackman Andrew Harvey, who scored two of Bellaire’s goals, said. “We couldn’t catch. We couldn’t shoot. We just couldn’t produce.”

Despite the varsity loss, Bellaire’s five two-way players had to immediately prepare to play against SMCA’s JV team, which marked their second game of the day and fifth of the week. Coming off of JV games on Wednesday and Thursday as well as a varsity game on Tuesday and their prior one against SMCA’s varsity.

“Going into that [JV game], I just wanted to play my best, try not to get too tired, and do my best to not bring down that team,” Nguyen, who had his first start in a varsity game due to team injuries, said. “ I just wanted to do good stuff to try to pick up the team and hopefully get some goals.”

Sophomore Brayden Nguyen runs the ball down the field with his long-pole. As a long-stick midfielder Nguyen is an essential part of JV and varsity’s transition game. (Alex Lin)

Nguyen scored JV’s only goal in the first half as a long stick middie, a midfielder that plays with a pole and typically only plays in transitional and defensive situations. The feat impressed the coaches so much that they made him play as a short stick midfielder to try to facilitate the offense.

“In previous games I tried to shoot, it only sometimes works because I need to get my shooting form together,” Nguyen said. “But during the varsity game, I played against some of these guys and I kind of learned what they did, and I tried to put that into motion.”

Two-way players that played positions with less substitutions like attack or defensemen had to play nearly all of the 216 minutes of game time throughout the week. Two varsity games of 48 minutes and three JV games of 40 minutes turned into over three and half hours of playing not including timeouts and penalties. Freshman David Weber, a varsity attackman and JV defenseman had to play the entirety of most games.

“I knew that it was going to be tiring, but I knew I just had to keep going at it,” Weber said. “Save some energy for the JV game but just keep going at it.”

Regardless of the skill difference between SMCA’s varsity and JV teams, freshman two-way attackman Owen Shunk kept his mentality the same.

“I couldn’t really think that much because I was kinda drained from the varsity game but I tried and think I helped my teammates out a lot,” Shunk said.

Freshman two-way attackman Owen Shunk posts up against the goalie as his shot attempt goes in. Shunk scored JV’s only goal in the second half. (Alex Lin)

Weber recognized that many of the JV’s players’ goal for the season was to reach a varsity skill level.

“I think our biggest motivation is just showing up and getting [to be] like varsity [because] they set the tone for us,” Weber said. “I think we just try to have to match that because we’re trying to get to varsity.”

Despite the losses, offensive coach Matthew Graves was happy with JV’s performance.

“With the varsity game, we’re expecting to win games, with a JV game, we’re expecting to get better,” Graves said. “I think we did that tonight.”

Graves wanted to use the out-of-district game to see how well his team could adjust to teams that Bellaire doesn’t play for most seasons. This includes either out of district teams like SMCA or out of class teams like the class B Atascocita Eagles.

“We play every game the same, especially when we play teams that we don’t get to study,” Graves said. “It’s a good test of just playing a team blind and seeing where we’re at and seeing if we can adapt to what they show us.”

Varsity players like Nguyen who step up in JV games were exactly what Graves ultimately wanted to see.

“On JV, I like to see them [the two-way players] be the guy and be the leader,” Graves said. “On varsity, I like to see them play their role.”

JV will host Clear Springs JV at Willowbend field on March 27 at 3 p.m. Varsity will resume its season after spring break with a home game against Lamar at Willowbend field on March 22 at 7 p.m. with hopes of continuing an undefeated district record.

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  • K

    Kate SteinbachApr 15, 2024 at 11:03 pm

    Great and entertaining story! Good photos too!