Written by Stephen Guenther
After a two game skid, the Birmingham boys unified lacrosse team rebounded with a win over Bloomfield United 15-5. Senior Adam Susalla scored a team high 5 goals.
Currently sitting at a 4-5 record, the Birmingham boys unified lacrosse teams record doesn’t accurately represent this team’s talent. With only one loss to an in state team, the other four have come against top teams from around the Midwest.
Birmingham lost to Country Day 8-7, with senior Cameron Clements leading the team with four goals. In a win against Canton, they won 13-3, with Susalla scoring 5 goals.
Against Farminton, Susalla scored 4 goals on the way to 15-10 win.
This past weekend, Birmingham played two powerhouse teams from Ohio in Cincinnati St. Xavier and Cincinnati Archbishop Moeller, losing both by scores 17-2 and 21-3.
According to laxpower.com St. Xavier is rated as the fourth best team in Ohio, and Moeller is rated as the ninth. According to Susalla, these teams were just better teams overall, and were overpowering with their size and talent.
“We have high expectations for this team and expect them to be at that level very soon,” assistant coach Greg Garrett said in reference of the two Ohio teams that they had just played that weekend.
So far, Birmingham’s schedule is rated as the 9th hardest in the state by laxpower.com.
The team’s difficult starting schedule has made for a tough start with five losses. But there is a method to the madness. Last year, despite finishing with a .500 regular season record, the Maples made it all the way to the state semifinals.
Now that they are back to playing in state teams, the team expects to improve their record.
“In state we expect to really push hard against the OAA, control that part of our game going forward, and then regroup for the Midwest and states,” Garrett said.
The team is using these first games as a learning experience.
“Offensively we learned the value of possession. Defensively we learned how important communication is and we learned the importance of winning the ground ball battle,” senior defenseman Matt Wilson said.
This year, the team is a very balanced team relying equally on offense and defense in order to win the game, according to Susalla.
“We rely on everybody knowing their job and being in position. Doing so, we are able to beat teams through discipline, even if our opponent has more skill,” Susalla said.
For spring break, the team took a trip down Hilton Head, South Carolina, and according to the players it has proved to be very beneficial
“We really came together as a team over spring break,” Garrett said.
“Spring break was probably the best time of my life,” Clements said.
One thing that has helped the team to come together on and off the field has been the leadership of the team’s captains.
“We have really good leaders, kids who are multisport captains,” Garrett said.
Aside from having fun over break, on their way back, the team played three games against three very quality opponents. The first was against Upper St. Clair, Pennsylvania, which the team won 11-9, with Susalla scoring a team high three goals.
The next game was against the 29highest ranked team (laxpower.com) in Ohio, Liberty-Olentangy. Junior Michael Kemper led the team with five goals in a 9-8 loss in overtime.
“We had a few rough bounces that didn’t go our way, and that determined the outcome of the game,” Susalla said.
The third game was against Kiski Prep who is rated 11 in Pennsylvania (laxpower.com), and the team lost 18-5. According to the players, Kiski prep was just a better team.
The four captains are seniors Adam Susalla, Cameron Clements, Thomas Constand, and Dan Simon. Susalla and Simon were captains of the hockey and football teams respectively, both of them were key players for those teams.
As well as great leadership,another strength of the team is their talent, three players are college lacrosse commits. Susalla (UofD), Clements (Albion), and Wilson (Centre College), seem to all have the chosen their school based on the same factor; academics.
“I chose Albion because of the opportunity’s it offered me academically as well as the bonus of being able to play lacrosse,” Clements said.
“It’s the right fit for me. It’s a top liberal arts college with a good finance program and has a winning lacrosse program,” Wilson said.
“U of D is a school that has not only a well respected D1 lacrosse program but also well respected academics and I look forward to furthering both my lacrosse and academic careers,” Susalla said.
With the three of them leading the way, the team looks to repeat the success of last year’s improbable run.
“We expect to hang an OAA banner and a regional champs,” Clements said.