Breakthrough season could spark growth for County Lacrosse Club
In the short history of lacrosse in the greater Kansas City area, no team had gone undefeated during the regular season. No team, that is, until County Lacrosse Club.
The Bulldogs, formerly known as Lansing Lacrosse, became the first team in the FarWest division to run through league play unscathed as they posted a 10-0 league mark. Their overall record for the season was 13-1.
Coach Doug Nee said he and fellow coach Brian Holmes expected the Bulldogs to be good, but even they were a little surprised with just how well their squad performed.
"Basically, it was a lot of practice and hard work," Nee said. "We expected them to be successful, but not as successful as they were. The kids totally came together as a team and they excelled."
County Lacrosse opened its season with a pair of exhibition matches - a tie against Blue Valley North and a loss to St. Thomas Aquinas - but dove into regular season play with a vengeance. The Bulldogs shellacked their first five opponents by a combined score of 65-19. After that they won close matches with Rockhurst, Olathe East and Blue Valley North before closing the regular season with a 12-1 win over Blue Valley West and a forfeit victory against Olathe East.
The Bulldogs' lone blemish came in a 14-2 loss to Pembroke Hill at the LAX Tournament at Blackbob Park in Olathe. They went 3-1 during the tournament, including victories against Springfield (Mo.), Blue Valley and Aquinas to close out the season.
"We ended up with third place in the tournament," Nee said. "We played Springfield, who we hadn't seen during the regular season, and we also got to see some other new teams like Creighton Prep and Miller's West from Nebraska."
The diversified competition was a challenge for the Bulldogs, but Nee said he was pleased with how the players responded.
County Lacrosse will lose just two players - Kyle Kunkel and Brett Mereness of Leavenworth High - to graduation. Nee said the returning players will be from Lansing High School, Lansing Middle School and Leavenworth schools, but he said there was plenty of roster room available for new players to join and learn the game. Nee said that adding new team members would help the Bulldogs build depth and become even more competitive. He said interest in the club seemed high, especially when a large crowd showed up to support the Bulldogs during their dramatic 7-6 victory against Rockhurst on April 25 at Fort Leavenworth's Normandy Field. The club gained additional exposure when it played home games at LHS and LMS.
"There were a lot of kids both from Lansing High and Leavenworth High who came up to see the game (against Rockhurst) and they were all very impressed and were cheering the team on," Nee said. "From what we heard during the following week or so after the game, we should be getting anywhere from eight to 10 more kids added onto the team because of this."