By David McAndrews
The Loyola varsity lacrosse team, coming off of a first place finish in the Mission League last year, has proven itself to be perennial powerhouse in Los Angeles, according to Head Coach Seth Cohen. With a new year, comes a different team dynamic with new players and new chemistry. After claiming the Mission League Title with an undefeated league record of 8-0 last year, the Cubs had their season cut short due to an overtime loss to the Crespi Celts in the second round of CIF Playoffs. The 2015 team finished the season ranked sixth in the CIF Southern Section, according to Laxpower.
When asked how the current team compares to last year’s team, senior long-stick midfielder Max Neblina said, “The squad this year is by far the best in Loyola history. I know we can go further this year than we have ever gone before.” Coach Cohen, commenting on this year’s team, said, “We’re a year older, stronger, and faster.” The lacrosse team lost only three starting players from last year, including Harrison Mac, Nate Mohler and Troy Dixon; so, according to Coach Cohen, the team still possesses depth on both offense and defense.
However, junior midfielder Jonathan Partamian said, “I think our team needs to develop more chemistry to bring out all the talent, so we can be a great collective unit as opposed to good players playing individually.”
Coach Cohen expects to see many upperclassmen step up as team leaders this year. Neblina, recognizing this surge of talent and hoping that the team maintains its humility, said, “The last thing we need is to mistake confidence for arrogance.”
According to Partamian, the lacrosse program is taking full advantage of Coach Andre Woodert, the new Strength and Conditioning Coach. In addition, sophomore attackman Henry Hasenberg said, “I think our high-intensity workouts with Coach Woodert have been very helpful to our on-field play.” This year marks the first year that the lacrosse program is working with Coach Woodert. According to Coach Cohen, his addition to the the strength of the team is “invaluable.” Coach Cohen also said, “This guy’s the best hire Loyola’s ever had in my time here.”
Aside from giving students an opportunity to competitively play lacrosse, the varsity lacrosse team fosters the perfect gateway into college, according to Assistant Coach Brett Tietjen. Already, the team consists of four athletes who have committed to play lacrosse at the next level: Junior Ryder Mora, University of Maryland; junior Jonathan Partamian, Syracuse University; senior Sean Smith, Connecticut College; and junior Nick Mohler, St. John’s University.
In their first match of the year on Feb. 27, the Cubs will face off against St. Margaret’s Episcopal High School, the third ranked school in the CIF Southern Section last year, according to Laxpower.
The Cubs are now looking far beyond previous goals, according to Mora, who said, “Of course, we want to win Mission League again this year, but our main goal is to win the L.A. Division Title. I think we’re raising our standards because we want to reach that next level in the Lacrosse program, and we are confident in our potential.” Earning a record of 8-0 in the Mission League, the Cubs claimed the 2009 L.A. Division Title defeating Mira Costa in double-overtime. Since then, the Cubs have not even seen a championship match to fight for the throne of L.A. dominance.