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Lacrosse teams solid after inaugural season

June 5, 2014
By J.T. Whitehouse , The Town Crier

The Boardman High School boys and girls lacrosse teams have completed their inaugural season and are looking forward to a great 2015. While the win column may not have big numbers, the coaches are pleased with the efforts and dedication of the athletes involved.

Boys head coach Dave Merry said it was a strong boosters organization that help get the program up and running. They approached the Boardman Board of Education last year and were given the green light and a two-year probationary period as a club sport. In Ohio, lacrosse is presently under the Ohio High School Lacrosse Association (OHSLA).

Merry said at present there are 132 teams in Ohio, just shy of the number required to make application to the Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) to become an official high school sport.

Article Photos

Photos Special to the Town Crier
The 2014 BHS lacrosse team included, in front, Mo Altawil, Colin Loney, Aaron Mills, Nick Ouimet, Alex Filicky, Tyler Pawlak and Kyle Ripple. In back row are assistant coach Spice Peoples, John Beck, Eric Cochran Jr., Jim Shirilla Jr., Mike Marquette, Dustin Hellman, Amir Khan, Igor Sprankle Dave Zaitzew, Cole Pollack and head coach Dave Merry.

In the OHSLA, Boardman was placed as a Division I school. Both the girls' and boys' teams fielded the required number of players, which is 10 for the boys and 12 for the girls.

''It was a great start, as we were able to start a boys and girls team the same year, which most schools are unable to do,'' said Kathy Gahagan from the LAX Boosters Club. ''We have great kids and parents!''

Merry said northeast Ohio is mostly a football and baseball area, but lacrosse is growing. That meant new start-up teams like Boardman had to travel to the Akron-Canton-Cleveland area to compete.

''Our furthest school this year was Meadville, Pa.,'' he said.

Merry was the obvious choice for coach. He grew up in New York state, where lacrosse has become common.

''Luckily, I had a good knowledge of the game after playing it myself,'' Merry said.

For the first season, Merry and girls coach Sherri Phillips concentrated on fundamentals. Merry said lacrosse is actually the one true American sport that began with Native Americans.

The lacrosse season runs from February through May with playoffs in early June. This year's weather made for some extra challenges, as there are no indoor facilities to practice on.

With the season now ended, the Boardman boys logged a 1-8 record. The girls also had one win. Merry said it was a light schedule, as lacrosse normally has 18 regular season games.

For next season, the boys team will only lose four seniors from this year. With most returning, Merry is optimistic that 2015 will have a better record as far as wins go.

''I'm excited about the team,'' Merry said. ''The kids enjoyed it, and we have a really strong boosters club supporting us.''

Gahagan said, ''We plan to continue to have clinics for the kids involved and anyone who wants to give it a try through Steel Valley Lacrosse, and we are having middle school clinics as well.''



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