Talent promises strong lax season

Cole Anderson

As the colder winter months approach, the Whitman Men’s Lacrosse team has wrapped up their fall season that was characterized by growth and improvement from a team that lost a great deal of senior talent last season. Though the fall season almost entirely consists of practices to gear up for the spring, it was capped off with a the Five Summit Fall Shootout in Bend, Ore., and even with low participation at the tournament, the team showed a lot of potential for the spring.

“It turned out the tournament was over parents’ weekend, so that reduced our numbers quite a bit. But the tournament went really well. For a team that was only half Whitman players, there was a lot of chemistry that didn’t rely on communication, things just seemed to click with a lot of our players,” said senior defenseman Sam Hinkle.

Samuel Hinkle '15. Photo by Halley McCormick.
Samuel Hinkle ’15. Photo by Halley McCormick.

The other half of the team was comprised of extra players from other teams at the tournament, which was even more of a testament to those Whitman players’ ability to play well despite the lack of an entirely Whitman team.

Low numbers are always a struggle for the team, as they are for most club sports at Whitman. Especially for lacrosse, getting new players is difficult because there is quite a bit of equipment required.

“For this sport it’s hard to get new players because it requires a bit more of a startup cost, in terms of gear, so people seem to shy away from it a bit. Usually most of the players we get are experienced and come to us. But for people that do come out, we do a pretty good job of supplying gear for them,” said senior Max Skotheim.

Max Skotheim '15 finds his way through opposing defenders. Photo by Halley McCormick.
Max Skotheim ’15 finds his way through opposing defenders. Photo by Halley McCormick.

Regardless of numbers though, the fall season has already showed a lot of promise for the team’s upcoming season next semester.

“We look really good. There’s a lot of skill on the team and probably more than I’ve seen in the past. I think what’s improved most from last year to this year is chemistry on offense. That wasn’t really here last year, and I wasn’t really expecting the amount of cohesion that we’ve seen but it’s been good,” said Paul MacGowan, another senior on the team.

Paul MacGowan '15. Photo by Halley McCormick.
Paul MacGowan ’15. Photo by Halley McCormick.

Hinkle echoed MacGowan regarding the improvements and is excited for younger players on the team to step into bigger roles.

“I’m really excited about our sophomore players. They’ve picked up the game so quickly, and so I’m excited this year to see them rise into really important roles and start to become some of the better players on our team,” said Hinkle.

Two notable sophomores are Nick Tabbutt and Coleman Johnson, both of whom came in last season with no prior experience, but have progressed greatly since. 

Hinkle also noted how, though this year’s team lacks the offensive firepower it has seen previously, the newfound cohesiveness is replacing that quite well.

“Over the years, we’ve lost a lot of guys who we can depend on to get the ball to and just ask them to take a shot and have a reasonable percentage of it going in. But that has just forced us to work more as a unit and in terms of ‘pretty’ lacrosse, it’s looking a lot better,” said Hinkle.

As is the goal every year, the team hopes to make playoffs. This goal, according to Skotheim, is much more attainable this year than it has been in the past.

“Our main goal is to make playoffs. We made playoffs my freshmen year but haven’t since. So we’d like to get back in there and return Whitman to what it was previously,” said Skotheim.

Max Skotheim '15. Photo by Halley McCormick.
Max Skotheim ’15. Photo by Halley McCormick.

He added that even though fall season is over, there is still always room on the team for more players who are interested.

“We’re always looking for new people. We’ve had guys join us mid season, so it’s not like missing fall practice makes anything set in stone. We’re always looking to add guys,” said Skotheim.

The team hopes to play more home games on Ankeny this year, starting with their season opener on Feb. 14.