Every year as March 1 rolls around, spring sports teams usually begin their workouts for the upcoming season. Players start re-learning how to work and gel as a team. But for the Peglegs, Stuyvesant High School’s boys’ lacrosse team, the 2012 season started immediately after the 2011 season had ended.
The team had reached the first round of the playoffs, before losing to Long Island City High School by a score of 17-5. “We came into the [playoffs] with probably the best offense hands down, but [sophomore and attacker Noah] Kramer got tripleteamed and we were held scoreless for two quarters,” senior and attacker Shuqi Gao said.
Last season, the team was plagued by suspensions, especially at the start of the season, because of the athletes’ excessive latenesses to school. Additionally, an incident involving an improper use of a storage shed at Pier 40, a practice facility used by many Stuyvesant sports teams, resulted in the temporary cancelation of the lacrosse season by Athletic Director Larry Barth. Two days later, Barth restored the season, but the majority of the seniors quit the team due to suspensions stemming from the event.
“Of course [the lack of seniors] dealt a heavy blow to our morale,” senior and midfielder Ian Chan said. “In hindsight, it helped prepare a lot of juniors and sophomores for the seasons yet to come.”
This season, the team will have many seniors, and most will occupy starting positions. The attack will be filled by Gao and senior Alan Lau. Moreover, the team will once again rely on Kramer, who scored 57 goals last season, becoming second in the PSAL.
The team’s most improved unit this year is their defense. The three leaders of the defense, seniors Kevin Choi, Bill Ling, and Evan Mostafa, picked up 49 combined ground balls—gains of possession from intercepted passes or balls pick up from the ground. The defense will also be aided by freshman Nick Romanoff.
“Our defense is now super experienced and athletic,” Gao said. “Our X-factor will be [junior and] midfielder Roy Choi. He’s a game-changer and really quick with a nice shot, so I hope he can step up this year.”
Over the summer, the Peglegs worked hard on improving their skills. Players worked out by playing beach lacrosse at Morey’s Pier in New Jersey. Others joined City- Lax, a non-for-profit organization that helps develop lacrosse players in New York City public schools. The athletes focused on fundamentals – catching, passing, and shooting – throughout the offseason. Conditioning was also a big part of the Peglegs’ offseason and will remain an important aspect of their season.
Despite the team’s committed attitude to the game, the players’ attendance records have once again hurt the team even before the start of the season. Many players have been late to school excessively and are waiting on Athletic Director Larry Barth’s decision regarding the length of their respective suspensions. Gao is already suspended for the first two league games for lateness.
“The thing with latenesses is that they always pop up either right before the season starts or during the season,” Kramer said. “Myself and some of the other seniors are always urging the players to go to class and to get there on time, because we know that kills us every year.”
“Everyone understands that you have to be on point with your attendance, as well as being punctual to practice. We have to be on top of that this year,” senior and midfielder Sanjit Gill said.
The team will face new competition this year in the Bowl Division, as Frederick Douglass Academy moved down from the Championship Division after going 1-11. Despite this poor record, the Peglegs are not going to take them lightly.
“[Frederick Douglass Academy] is going to be our main challenge,” Kramer said. “I played with them during the winter, and they seem pretty athletic. But I still think we can beat them.”
The Peglegs will scrimmage against the Hunter College High School Hawks on Saturday, March 17, before playing their first league game against the James Madison Knights on Tuesday, March 20. “[The Hawks game] is always a dogfight, so we’ll have to be prepared for them,” Gao said.
After the disappointment of a first round exit in the 2011 postseason, the Peglegs are looking to improve tremendously this season. “We want to bring a championship back to Stuy and help move the team to the upper division,” Gao said. “We have a great team, and the expectations are high.”