On Sunday the Valley Tigers ventured over to Omaha, NE for a second round of fall ball. Unfortunately I was unable to make note of the final scores; but with this being fall ball, they really don’t matter much…
It was a brisk morning when we pulled out of the Southwoods parking lot and the sky was dreary over Interstate 80. When we arrived in Omaha, the clouds began to break and we were treated to sunshine during our warm ups.
Our line up was a little different this time around. Jared Lowe and Ben Arends were able to join the team, giving us two more returning varsity players. Unfortunately Cole Griess, Charles Love, Drew Coleman, Max Degen, and both Oberender brothers could not make the trip, taking two varsity and four JV players from our bench. Morgan Stutzman was the only new player that did not make it this time around.
We knew going in that both Millard West and Creighton Prep would have benches full of varsity and returning JV players. Despite the uphill battle before us, the boys came ready to play. They embraced the challenge before them.
The first game got off to a rocky start with the Wildcats grabbing four quick goals. Andrew Marcum was left unprotected on all four as Thompson and McEntee sought to gain composure while reigning in the enthusiastic Halder. With some adjustments by Coach Marcum, the back line straightened up. Before long the team found itself and came back into the game.
Regardless of the personnel, the Tigers provided an equal match against the Wildcats. At times it looked as though Valley would not only bring the score level, but also surge ahead. But it was not meant to be. Those early goals remained the difference when the timer ran out.
The the Jays arrived, I was informed by Coach Mazanec that neither of their goalies was available – something that learned en route to the field. In order to play they contacted the nearest high school goalie, Westside’s McGuire. This was our second encounter with McGuire this fall; he held the Tigers to two goals in Lincoln. A few of the older players were unhappy with this until I reminded them that 1. this is fall ball and does not count towards official standings and 2. without McGuire Prep could not play.
As I recall, this game got off to a decent start and remained close throughout the first half. Things took a turn for the worse somewhere around half time when Lowe took a hit on the crease and landed funny. The resultant shoulder injury not only took him out of the game, it also sidelined him for the remainder of the Central Iowa Lacrosse Association Box Lacrosse League.
Not long after it was obvious that the team was gassed. Kapustka shifted from LSM to defense to save his legs. Around the same time, McEntee received an ejection with five minutes of personal fouls, concluding with stacked one minute and three minute calls on a pair of sloppy and vindictive slashes. The loss of a starting pole – a captain – was detrimental to the team. Still, the boys soldiered through the game and did what they could to stop the bleeding. In the end, the loss was by more than ten goals, as evidenced by the switch to a running time clock.
Despite ending fall ball with a loss, we left Omaha with many positives. Our crop of incoming freshmen had the opportunity to experience two game days and near-varsity (by fall standards anyway) rosters from two of the league’s top teams. The talent and potential the new boys displayed provides a glimpse at how successful our JV season could be this year, as well as how strong our future teams will be. Players that swung between varsity and JV last year showed remarkable improvements in their ability and game play. Most have elevated themselves in the eyes of the coaching staff and captains.
All in all, having two fall ball game days was a worthwhile experience. Depending on the numbers, we may look into doing something similar next year…