OH Boys Lacrosse Team Gets First Win in School History; Girls Teams Sees Vast Improvement

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OH Boys Lacrosse Team Gets First Win in School History; Girls Teams Sees Vast Improvement

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This 2019 spring sports season, Olympic Heights resurrected its dormant girls’ lacrosse program after a and instituted it first ever boys’ lacrosse program. And history was made on Thursday, April 4, when the boys’ lacrosse team recorded its first win in school history by downing John I. Leonard 9-8 in overtime.

Jake Brooks scored three goals in the win, including the game winner in overtime. Sean Zipper scored four goals in the win, while Mag Pierre and Mack Hiliare each added a single goal. Goal keeper Greg Benavides had multiple saves in the match.

On his game-winning goal, Brooks says, “I was excited and happy for the team.” He adds that the fact that the history-making win came after four straight losses to start the season made it that much sweeter for the OH squad.

Coaching the boys team are head coach Bryan Lejeune and his assistant coach Connor Cecil. The boys’ and girls’ teams are playing an abbreviated season as they attempt to get their programs established. They both are also playing as independent teams, meaning that while still playing under the auspices of the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA), they are not in a district and not eligible for post season play but can play both varsity and junior varsity teams from other schools.

While a record of 1-4 may not sound that impressive, Lejeune is proud of his team’s progress with only a few players having any experience with the sport. “These boys have just picked up a lacrosse stick with only one month’s worth of practice. For them to play decently against schools that had a lacrosse program for multiple years is impressive,” Lejeune explains. “The boys are always hustling. I can see that their hard work is paying of through every day of new practice or new game. I am really proud of my boys.”

All the boys on the team are also having a great time as they learn sport, commenting on the improvement they see in themselves. “I remember when I would struggle to throw, catch, and shoot the ball,” midfielder/attacker Kaito Murata explains. “Now that I have been working hard, I can almost do all these things as if it were natural.”

The boys’ lacrosse team is composed of weightlifters, football players, track team members, and a handful of pre-experienced lacrosse players. With the help of all of their coaches, they manage to balance out all sports, so the boys can play all their sports with no worries.

The inaugural team’s captains are seniors Benavides and Pierre and sophomores Kaivin Im and Josh Volel. And while their coaches push the boys hard, the entire team seems to appreciate the work their coaches are doing to make the team more competitive.

Lejeune’s hope is that the boys’ program will continue to grow, and with a solid base of underclassmen on the current team and the seniors serving as role models and inspiration, it seems those hopes will become reality.

The girls’ lacrosse team last played in 2016, but a lack of interest caused the OH Athletic Department to put the program on the shelf for the past two seasons. This year was different as 22 athletic, energetic, and spirited girls came out for the team.

The girls’ team, led by Coach James Drake, just completed their abbreviated season on Wednesday, finishing with a 0-5 record. Winning had never been the primary focus for the team, however. Instead, the emphasis has been on re-establishing the program and teaching the game to a group of largely inexperienced players.

Although they were not focused on the score, the team did see improvement. “It was really rough at the beginning of the season, but as we began to develop our skills, things got better,” comments team captain and goal keeper junior Jessica Budin.

Freshman Sofia Santana, another team captain, is the team’s leading scorer, and Budin has been making some amazing saves in the net.

Although it is hard to build a team virtually from scratch, Drake has been working hard and patiently in teaching the team the game while making the season an enjoyable one.

“Lacrosse is a fun fast paced sport that also utilizes strategy, I love it!” junior Olivia Santana, one of the five experienced players on the team, said. With her help, the team has become much more aware of the game, especially the defensive players.

Junior Gabby Engelman, comments, “I play every position during games. My favorite position is midfielder because I get to run up and down the field.”  Many of the girls play all of the positions due to being so new to the game and Drake wanting to make sure he finds the right spot for each player.

With this season in the books for the girls’ team, the hope is that the team will come back next season even better, stronger, and more experienced. Drake and his players all seem to agree that this season was a great start to the future the team is going to have.