Growing pains: Warren Wilson men's lacrosse remains winless in inaugural season
As the season nears its close, the men's lacrosse team at Warren Wilson has yet to win a game.
But in the face of an 0-12 season, coach Jeffery Woodside remains optimistic.
"It's been rough, but it's a new program," Woodside said. "We're competing every game, and we're getting better every game."
This season marks the first year Warren Wilson has had a lacrosse program. With walk-ons playing against seasoned college athletes, Woodside said the Owls have faced tough opponents.
Averaging less than three goals and 12 shots a game, Warren Wilson has faced significant scoring deficits, losing matches by 10-20 points. Nevertheless, Woodside's optimism holds.
"We got a lot of walk-ons, so just seeing the growth from those guys has been huge," Woodside said. "Some of them have never even picked up a stick before."
Despite heavy losses, Warren Wilson managed to score points in nearly every game, facing only a single shutout. Woodside said seeing his players who have been competing for only a few months go up against players with years of lacrosse under their belts has been impressive to watch.
"They're really giving it their all. They're not quitting," Woodside said. "Just the fact that we're in every game and we're competing until that final buzzer is huge."
Players such as sophomores Saiquan Bell and Luke Behrendt have scored nearly every game. Bell leads the team with 17 goals this season followed by Behrendt with seven.
Woodside credited retired Marine Colin Stanford with leading the Owls' defense this season. The team's goalie, Stanford has completed games with more than 30 saves, Woodie said.
"He's seen a lot of shots, so he's got a lot of chances for saves," Woodside said, praising Stanford's goalkeeping. "Doing a hell of a job in cage."
Joining the program late, Woodside, a native of central New York, has been playing lacrosse for roughly 35 years. For the past 15, he's been coaching high school, club teams and other collegiate programs.
With a new coach in a new program, Woodside said the team has dealt with the growing pains of establishing familiarity with the sport.
Looking ahead, Woodside said recruitment will grow the Warren Wilson lacrosse program into a stronger team. Though it may take a few seasons, he said the foundation is there for a good program.
"Next year when we get a couple of more recruits, a couple of guys with a little higher lacrosse IQ, things could change," Woodside said, adding that he tells his players not to take the first season too seriously. "Think of it like we're building a puzzle. Right now we're trying to build the border."
Ezra Maille covers the town of Black Mountain, Montreat and the Swannanoa Valley. Reach him at 828-230-3324 or email@example.com. Please support local journalism with access to more breaking news by subscribing.