Young Knights making progress under new coach | LacrosseKamiak relying on its four seniors to lead team
The Mukilteo/Kamiak lacrosse team made history last season by winning its first Wesco/NW league title and advancing to the state quarterfinals.
A year later a lot has changed.
Nine seniors are gone and a new head coach, Bryan McClure, is heading up the program.
Mukilteo opened the season with losses to Stanwood (10-2) and Jackson (12-6) but rebounded with victories over Glacier Peak (5-4) and Cascade (10-2). The Knights then dropped a non-league contest to Juanita (15-2).
“We have a very young team,” McClure said.
McClure said Mukilteo is looking to the team’s four seniors – Jacob Braich, Cameron Cleland, Jake Darrow and Jackson Finnerty – to provide leadership for the underclassmen. Braich, Cleland and Darrow play in the defense, while Finnerty is a midfielder.
“We rely on those guys,” McClure said. “They’ve been our strength so far. Jackson takes the faceoffs. He’s done a great job.”
The Knights showed a lot of determination against Glacier Peak with a strong second half performance.
“It was 2-1 at halftime,” McClure said. “The kids fought hard and came back to tie the score at 4 and win the game. … We continue to see progress.”
The players are becoming more comfortable with their new coach’s system and team philosophy.
“The way I try to pursue lacrosse is that I really want to make players think on their own and be reactive rather than having set plays or looking for certain people,” McClure said.
Last year’s team had solid experience and individual standout players. Mukilteo doesn’t have a great deal of either this season.
“We don’t have many stars on our team,” McClure said. “We need everybody to contribute. I expect a lot from each player on the roster.”
One player who McClure said is contributing to the team’s success is Ben Barton. The junior midfielder missed the season opener but since then is becoming a major force on offense.
“He’s instant offense for our team,” McClure said. “He has the knack of getting to the goal, taking great shots and he works hard.”
The progress Mukilteo’s players are making early in the season is directly tied to having game experience. The players work hard at practice, but nothing can replace actual game action.
“We’ve gained the most progress by playing games,” McClure said. “The kids do a great job at practice. … It’s much different getting on the field. Some of the learning curve is what we saw in the first week. We weren’t too comfortable with what we did on the field against other teams.”
McClure was pleased by what he saw in week two with the pair of victories.
“We’re slowly comprehending and producing the way we should be rather than kind of acting on our own,” he said. “I saw quite a bit of progress … The goal for our team is continuing to progress each game. If we maintain this pace, we should be fine.”