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Archive for Coaches Corner

Coaches Corner – Dunwoody Varsity Wins Against Druid Hills

April 17, 2016 12:09 pm
Coach Michael Sopko
Dunwoody Lacrosse went 3-4 in games this past week, including a program sweep of Decatur and a varsity win against Druid Hills. Good job to all of our players, we worked hard for these wins. Three varsity games in one week is a tough task but as a program we were able to do well.

As for the game itself our varisty program realized the importance of this game as far as region standings. Our message to our team before the game was to respect our opponent, make them play our game or up to our level, and in games like this we should be able to execute and finish at will. With that being said we also mentioned to our team that these focus points are not just going to happen but are a by product of sustained hardwork and focus.

In all we played well with real positives that came from the game such as dominating the faceoff x, team offense and being able to run our new plays, defense commitment to communicating, and goalie play.

Things we need to work on is running our plays correctly, defensive clearing, matching up numbers on unsettled defense, and subbing.

In a game like this we are looking for effort/execution and when your number is called it’s your time to shine!

It was a real team effort as all players contributed on Saturday and looked good playing the game. Going forward we have a huge region game this upcoming Saturday. This week it is important to have good practices. We have a real competitive practice plan for the week paired with a team focus. Come Saturday, Dunwoody will be ready to play, earn another region win, and extend our varsity win streak to 3.

Coaches Corner – Huge Win against Decatur!

April 14, 2016 8:37 pm

From Head Coach Michael Sopko:

It’s always a special game when you can walk away from me a home field after an overtime win, let alone a double overtime win.

At the beginning of the season I asked our players to make individual goals as well as team goals and I guarantee you that some of the players put on for their goal to beat a big-name program such as a Benedictine, Greenbrier, or Decatur. Today we were able to accomplish this task and also understand that this is something that we can do on a regular basis.

The game started out pretty slow with us quickly going down 3-0. At that point it was necessary to call timeout, regroup, and try to focus on chipping back at the score one goal at a time.

Face off and wing work was key in our efforts to tie the game back at 3 and ultimately take the lead. Huge goals from our offensive players propelled us to be winning at halftime. During half time we mentioned to our players that it would take a four quarter effort to beat a team such as Decatur and that we needed to focus and collectively come together in order to pull out the win.

Our offense did not take the foot off the pedal as we continued to score while our defense helped out with some stops and big clears. At one point in the game we saw one of the best fast breaks that we have run. It was a huge goal and gained momentum for our guys. This game can remind our guys about the importance of momentum and also the importance of support from all of our players, even those who may not participate in games because of our big numbers. Today these guys helped just as much as guys on the field as they supported our players when they came off with good jobs and high fives.

Going into the fourth quarter we had a lead but we knew that it would be tested. Before the fourth-quarter I mentioned that this is why we play the game, for big moments like this, for big players to step up and lead our team. The fourth quarter went back and forth as both teams changed possession. We had a chance to end the game with the ball in our control but ultimately Decatur earned the ball back with less than a minute to go in the game and were able to tie the game forcing us into overtime.

Plain and simple overtime is a golden goal and the first to score wins in a four minute period.

Again our message to the team was that we needed to perform well in this situation because it is a high-pressure situation in which mistakes become escalated so we need to trust in what we’ve learned, trust in our selves, and most importantly trust in our team and we will be successful. With that being said this definitely was the case in overtime as we were able to win both starting faceoffs, our offense was able to possess the ball really well, our defense came up with some big stops, our goalie has earned the reputation as being a force to be reckoned with in overtime, strategy’s of our coaches coupled with the effort of all players, we were victorious.

I will say that this is one of the biggest wins that I’ve ever had as a coach and it may be the biggest win for our program to date.

After the game it was great to see how happy our players were, how excited our fans were, and our wildcat pride chant echoing throughout our campus. Our program only goes forward from here as we look forward to a good practice and then a huge game on Saturday against another division rival in which Dunwoody seeks a two-game winning streak.

Coaches Corner

All players that came on the trip to play Benedictine were respectful and played hard for our teams. In all it was a very successful trip that showed that our program is capable of participating in this type of event for years to come. Both teams lost but the team work and effort that was exhibited at the games will help ensure our future success this year as a program.

The Junior Varsity played a tough game against Benedictine, losing 7-0. Even with a loss like this it was great to see new players getting a chance to play due to our low numbers. Our JV has developed so much over the season and it is great to see our new JV players mixing with JV players who have been playing lacrosse for a longer period of time. This group of players constantly demands hard work and focus, while having an understanding side as they are invested in each other, making sure each player is on the same page. One thing that the JV team needs to work on is moving the ball around the outside of our offensive set and also learning the responsibilities in our defense. Once again it is great to see our young players stepping up and getting playing time for our JV in hopes that their next game will be better and ultimately one day they will be a part of our varsity.

Our varsity game was great even with the loss. It was one of the first times this season that the coaches were able to see the direct coloration of our hard work and effort in practice translate to the game. In the first quarter the score was 5 to 1, Dunwoody. This game represents the kind of start that we need game in and game out. Defense and offense were both making plays, helping us to go into half time with a score of 10-6. In the second half Dunwoody was able to sustain our lead until the last two minuets of the game.  Going into the fourth quarter it was 14-9. In the fourth quarter Benedictine got hot offensively and was able to make a come back, ultimately winning the game 16-15. In all a loss was not the result we were looking for although we could take multiple positives out of the game such as; six different scores, seven different players with an assist, new players making an immediate impact, offense and defense taking pride within their units and rising up to the occasion collectively, and lastly the correct execution of team plays which we called in critical situations.

With a loss, moral and players attitudes tend to become more negative, but in this case I believe that all of our players understand why we lost the game but more importantly understand that if they play to their full potential then we can compete on a very high level. Things that we need to work on still are; team offense/defense, riding and clearing, extra man offense, extra man defense, two minute offense, two minute defense, and most importantly hot to close out a win. I believe that after this game our team is more focused and determined to achieve these goals and continue to grow and get better.

As a program we are looking forward to today as we take St Puix at home at March 22nd at 5:00pm. This  marks the first day in program history that the varsity lacrosse team will play at Dunwoody High School. I look forward to a big crowd and support from our community as we take on our cross town rivals. Look for Dunwoody to play to a fast start, play good defense, and scrap hard for every ground ball as well seek victory.

Go Wildcats!!
Coach Sopko
Dunwoody Lacrosse