MINOOKA — There’s an old saying that there is “strength in numbers.” That statement couldn’t be any truer for Minooka Community High School’s boys lacrosse program, as a recent surge in athletes has been paying off on the field.
Just three years ago, Minooka didn’t even have enough talent to field a varsity team. After a 15-4 junior varsity season in 2010, though, things started to change. The program saw a 150-percent in participation, allowing them to field a varsity team for the first time in its brief history at MCHS.
“I’m pretty sure when I started there were about 11 freshmen out here,” senior defensemen Tyler Dause said. “Now that we have over 100 people in the organization is awesome. With every new player comes more talent and stuff that we didn’t have the day before.”
“It’s really been tremendous to see growth and I attribute our kids to that,” MCHS head coach Dave McAtee said. “They get out there, put in time in the offseason travel ball and indoor in the winter. Right now our player’s commitment is wonderful.”
The first season was a rough one for the Indians, as they only managed to get two victories all year. Despite the lack of success, the program knew that the transition was going to be tough.
“It was difficult. We took our lumps our first year,” McAtee said. “Just like in any sport, it’s tough to make a jump like that. The players are faster and stronger. The game is a lot quicker. I’m glad we took our lumps, though, because it’s made us a better team.”
That all changed last year, though, as Minooka won its first varsity playoff game, advancing into the second round of the IHSLA playoffs. Now that they’ve won a game, the Indians are looking for more.
“Last year we had a playoff win, but this year I want to have a home playoff game,” Dause said. “I’d love to have as many people out here and show them what lacrosse is all about.”
The road to getting a home playoff game, however, has been difficult. Many players have been sidelined with injuries this year, including starting defensemen Robby Daniel.
The senior tore his MCL and some of his ACL, resulting him being out for the remainder of the season.
Dause, senior Jake Cosgrove and junior Nate Kijowski have also been injured throughout the year, making it harder for the players to gel on the field together.
“Robby is a big loss. He’s a key part of our team defense and was tenacious,” McAtee said. “We have a few juniors that Robby has worked with that I think can step up to the challenge of trying to replace him.”
Although the road has been troubling, the Indians seem poised to finally capture a home playoff game to start the postseason.
“I was talking to my captains early in the season and getting a home playoff game is really one of our goals,” McAtee said. “Last year we were close. We finished 15th and the 13th place team hosted a home game. So we are looking to finish in the top 10, and to do that we have to win 12 or 13 games, which we are well on our way to doing.”