Thirteen of Wilde Lake's 21 players in yesterday's season opener were in middle school when the Wildecats last recorded a lacrosse victory.
One of those players is junior attackman Scott Jefferson, and yesterday against visiting Glenelg Country School, Jefferson helped Wilde Lake turn a crucial corner. He scored the season's first goal, then went on to score three more to lead the Wildecats to a 9-4 victory.
The victory erased a 28-game losing streak dating to 1990. The significance of the event wasn't lost on the Wildecats, who wore post-game smiles for a change and jokingly bragged about being undefeated.
"Now, the pressure is off from past years. We're over that bridge. Now, we've got to keep going up," Jefferson said. "I'm looking forward to going for a .500 season, but I guess I shouldn't ask for too much. Every win is sweet."
Yesterday's victory served as a critical confidence booster. And it came against a team that beat the Wildecats last year, 6-2.
Another loss to Glenelg could have been devastating to Wilde Lake. Glenelg Country School consists of about 350 students, 80 of whom are in high school. The team plays mostly other small, private schools, and this year's team lacks size and has only two seniors.
"We have almost nothing to lose by coming over here [to Wilde Lake]," said Glenelg coach Kevin Boland, who did lose a key player in sophomore attackman Risto Worthington. He left the game late midway through the fourth quarter after suffering a wrist injury.
"We've got so many young guys. We need to build a little depth," Boland added. "We just made too many mental mistakes on defense. Our guys were running around a lot out there, but they really didn't know where to go."
Jefferson and senior teammate Jon Taylor certainly knew where to go -- to the goal. Taylor scored three goals and added an assist. John Beakes added a goal and an assist.
Both teams slipped and splashed their way around a soggy field, which at times made ground balls an adventure and slowed the attacks of each team. But the Wildecats wasted little time asserting themselves, as Jefferson (2), Taylor and Beakes staked them to a 4-0 lead early in the second quarter.
Glenelg's offense came to life in the second period, when Brad Eyre broke open on the crease and turned a feed from Worthington into a goal that trimmed the lead to 4-1.
Wilde Lake then came out flat in the opening minutes of the second half, while Glenelg scored twice in the first three minutes to cut the lead to 4-3. Suddenly, thoughts of a 29-game winning streak ran through the head of Mike Harrison, Wilde Lake's fifth-year coach.
Jefferson then allayed Harrison's fears by making the game's biggest goal. He scooped up a loose ball, beat a Glenelg defender and scored to give Wilde Lake a 5-3 lead with 6:08 left in the period.
Tony Crawford made it 6-3 two minutes later. And in the first four minutes of the final quarter, Taylor and Jefferson combined for three goals to complete a 5-0 run and extend Wilde Lake's lead to 9-3.
"They played better today than they have in the last two years. We had five assists. I can't remember the last time we had five in a game," Harrison said.
"It's great for the kids' morale to win this early in the season. They've made a tremendous step. If we didn't win this game, I might have had 12 kids at practice tomorrow instead of 21."