Coming to compete

Gritty group of guys will play hard from whistle to whistle

Fred McCormick

Wins and losses are not the only way to measure success. In fact, too much focus on an outcome can be detrimental when laying a foundation for something like a new lacrosse program.

As the Montreat College men's lacrosse program enters its third season, what is important is effort, its coach believes. Effort will be what the Cavaliers will rely on when they open what head coach Will McMinn said should be their best season yet.

Coach Will McMinn directs his players during practice recently as the Cavaliers prepare for their third season.

McMinn came to Montreat in January 2014 with 30 years of lacrosse experience. He immediately set to work on finding the right players to build the foundation for the college's new program.

"When we started the program we only had a handful of guys who had even played the game before," he said. "But the thing that I'm most excited about is the quality of young men that make up this team."

Montreat College's lacrosse team has a roster that ranges from experienced players to those who began playing three years ago.

Character is key when building a program from scratch, and McMinn's experience building lacrosse teams since 1988 supports that.

"Learning to focus on the process and playing great lacrosse and maxing out every ounce of ability God has given you puts us in position to be competitive," he said. "If we're doing the most with what we have, then that's all we can do."

Focusing on winning and losing conditions players to pursue a result, which is not always in the best interest of the team, McMinn believes.

"Most teams manage their seasons by the scoreboard, so therefore a team comes in that you're supposed to lose to and that's what happens," he said. "But forgetting that you're supposed to win or lose lets you focus on understanding that there's no reason that just because some guy has been playing longer than you, you can't beat him to a ground ball. That's a hustle issue."

The leadership of junior Jordon Faubert led coach Will McMinn to name him one of the team's captains this season.

"But it's not just about hustle, just like life isn't just about hustle," the coach said. "You have to execute and be competitive. The world judges your team based on the scoreboard."

Last year the Cavaliers were 3-9, and on the losing end of some lopsided games. But an infusion of young talent and another year of development for the juniors and seniors should make this season a different story.

"We got thumped last year and the year before," McMinn said. "And now we're ready to stop being thumped and play competitively against these teams. And it's this year's team that's laying the foundation for what Montreat lacrosse will ultimately become."

Assistant coach Ethan Kamholtz talks to a Cavaliers player in between drills at practice.

The Cavaliers are a "gutsy team that never gives up," McMinn said. "When you have a team that never quits there's always a chance to come back. This team will never take its foot off the gas. Our strength is our tenacity."

Offensive captain Jordon Faubert sets the Cavaliers' tone on attack.

"He's a tremendous leader," McMinn said. "And he can finish in tight like nobody's business."

Another junior, Mark Switzer, is a "consummate midfielder," McMinn said.

"He's all guts, all hustle," he said. "He never gives up or slows down. He gives 100 percent through the whole game. He plays offense and defense with tenacity."

Senior Dakota Hennson, who graduated from Roberson High School, is the team's goalie.

"He's another one of our captains," McMinn said. "He's got the capacity to be really, really good."

The Cavaliers are 1-0 without taking the field, becauseCleary University forfeited the Feb. 4 match-up, Montreat's season opener. The team will play its first game at 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 11 against the Savannah College of Art and Design at Pulliam Stadium in Black Mountain.

The Montreat Cavaliers open the lacrosse season at home against the Savannah College of Art and Design at 1 p.m. Feb. 11.

"SCAD is a top-tier program," McMinn said. "That game will be a good test for us."

The Cavaliers' second and third games of the season are also at home - Keiser University on Feb. 18 and Lees-McRae College on Feb. 21.