The make-up of the South River boys lacrosse roster -- eight seniors, four freshmen and the rest sophomores and juniors -- may give the appearance of a rebuilding season.
But the No. 10 Seahawks never thought of it that way.
Working hard, accepting roles, and simply wanting to be part of the team has led them to a 15-0 mark heading into the Class 4A-3A East region playoffs.
Rebuilding season? Make it a special season.
After wrapping up the tightly-contested Anne Arundel County crown, the Seahawks defeated No. 9 Glenelg 14-9 on Tuesday to capture the District V championship.
Paul Noone, in his fifth season as head coach with a state title already on his resume from 2009, has watched his mostly young group of players improve and further develop into a top-notch team each day.
With the postseason approaching, Noone joined us as this week's Coachspeak guest.
What have you enjoyed most about the season so far?
Wins and losses are what they are. I've won a lot of games and lost a ton, but watching these kids grow up has been great. I was talking to one of the assistant coaches the other day, just looking at the kids and seeing them getting smarter and bigger. The kids are young, but we told them this is going on the middle of May and we don't look at them as freshman and sophomores -- they're all part of the team. And the same goes with the older kids -- they're all working hard, getting better every day and we're trying to keep them as focused as we can.
How can the big win over Glenelg carry over into the playoffs?
That was a big win, especially being down 5-4 at halftime. Coming out and scoring a couple quick goals [in the third quarter] was really big. Glenelg is a great team, they're legit. As good as our offense is, everything starts with our defense. When we get a big stop, everything just starts running the other way, so we just try to take advantage of that. Being undefeated, everybody wants a piece of you, there's no doubt about it. So the team just wants to finish what we got going on here.
What has been the key to bringing along the younger players?
I think it has been their willingness to just want to be on the team. They're doing whatever it takes to fit in. They're working as hard as the upperclassmen and not to necessarily to take a spot, but they just want to be part of the team. Granted they want to play, there's no arguing that, but they're doing whatever it takes. And it's a matter of asking these kids, whether they may be freshmen or sophomores, I need three or four strong minutes from you in a particular game and they are OK with that. No matter what they're role is -- playing defense, playing offense or asking somebody to get a ground ball -- they're doing whatever it takes.
Have you seen any similarities with this year's team and the 2009 state title team?
Besides the good records, this team is much younger than that team. Somebody asked me the other day if I expected to be where we're at and I said, "Heck no." I legitimately expected this to be a rebuilding year and possibly next year [would be promising] because all the kids that are juniors now will be seniors. But the kids have worked hard during practice every day and the young kids are doing whatever it takes and so far it's working.