Enthusiastic Athletes Yield Winning Lacrosse Season
By Josh Lashley
In the realm of professional sports, where athletes and coaches are paid millions of dollars each year, success should rightly be determined in large part by wins and losses. They are not youths rather they are adults who fully understand that competing against the best in the world means that they have to perform at their best and the results will speak volumes.
Success at the high school level of athletics should be determined, at least in some part, in a different way. Victories and defeats at the varsity level of course count, but so do the lessons that a young person participating in high school sports acquires.
The West Morris Central High School boys’ lacrosse program had a fine season indeed as they finished with a winning overall record against outstanding opposition and made a great run in the post-season tournament. But beyond even those facts, they gained a whole lot from the experience that will likely be realized well after their high school days are complete.
The Wolfpack competed with focus, honor, integrity and sportsmanship this year and those are attributes that well serve them quite well in the future.
West Morris Head Coach Robert Goodwin was certainly proud that the student-athletes on his roster approached the sport with such enthusiasm. He remembers particular games which showed his squads stick-to-itiveness.
“Both Mendham games, especially the first [were memorable],” Goodwin said. “They are our biggest rival and we both played pretty well. We won them both,9-8, for the Pooley trophy and 10-7.
“[We finished] 12-11 overall playing one of the toughest schedules in the state, at one point laxpower had us as the third hardest schedule, finished at ninth hardest in the state. We went to the County quarterfinals and the (NJSIAA North Group III Sectional) finals.”
Goodwin had a straightforward and accurate answer ready when asked which players stood out due to their leadership capabilities this year.
“Our senior captains, obviously, were our main leaders-Mike Gutkind and Blake Izzo,’’ Goodwin said. “But some juniors emerged to demonstrate vocal and on the field leadership, such as our goalie Joe Reilly and Cooper Sloan. Our senior captain, Blake Izzo showed continued improvement as did our goalie along with our sophomore attackman Garrett Izzo.”
West Morris defeated Middletown North (18-3), Mendham and Morristown in the North Group III Sectional Tournament. They were defeated in the Sectional final by Ridgewood. Ridgewood went on to defeat South Group III champion Shawnee to earn the State Group III crown.
“The kids battled nicely this year with a relatively young roster and through injuries,” Goodwin said. “We played half of the year without our best faceoff man, junior Ryan Pruss, and missed our best middie, junior Kyle Skurchak in our last game. Despite these setbacks, the kids still played hard against top competition, never gave up or were intimidated.”
If the returning players remain committed to improvement, look for the Wolfpack to once again be a force throughout the 2016 season.
“We return every starter except one defender-captain, Mike Gutkind-so in that sense things should improve,” Goodwin said. “But we will still play one of the hardest schedules so the kids will have to work hard on the off season.”