Although the Oak Park and River Forest High School boys lacrosse team graduated 19 seniors last year, new head coach John Terretta likes the Huskies' nucleus of returning talent. Terretta replaces longtime lacrosse coach Dan Ganschow, who stepped down at the end of last season after serving as a coach on various levels of the OPRF boys lacrosse program for 17 years.
The Huskies delivered Terretta a 14-6 win over Hoffman Estates in his head coaching debut at Oak Park Stadium on Saturday. Junior attacker Dan Hanley and senior attacker Pierce Jenkins scored five goals apiece, while Nicholas Rorres tallied three goals for OPRF. Ken VanSpankeren handed out a team-high four assists, followed by Haskell Menninga and Jenkins who each dished two assists.
"We moved the ball really well," Terretta said. "Our transition game was also very good. Hoffman Estates has some really good faceoff guys, but we were able to retain the ball and move it really well in transition."
Spurred on by a preseason full of hard work and preparation, the Huskies opened the regular season in auspicious fashion.
"We were putting in the work every day running through our plays and making changes up until [Saturday]," Hanley said. "We knew we had to move the ball, keep it going and keep our heads up the whole time. We really played as a team from the goalies, to the defensemen, to the attackers."
Other key returners for the Huskies include senior Emery Lehman and junior midfielder Ian Mahanes. While Lehman is obviously known for his world class speed skating ability which afforded him an unforgettable experience competing in the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, he's also an outstanding lacrosse player.
"We expect [Lehman] to be stellar," Terretta said. "His athleticism in speed skating really bleeds over to lacrosse. Mahanes is going to be one of our top midfielders and he will really be a strong player this season."
After playing defense on the JV team last season, Hanley makes his varsity debut as one of the Huskies' primary attackers this spring. VanSpankeren and Jenkins, two other talented call-ups from the JV, will serve as other top scoring threats.
"We expect a lot of production out of our attack," Terretta said. "Not only did we bring [Hanley, VanSpankeren, and Jenkins] up to varsity, but we put them in positions where we need them to produce. We're young but we're very fundamentally sound. And our defense is very big."
While Terretta will integrate his own coaching style, the Huskies' overall scheme will remain similar to last season.
"Our offensive sets are the same for the most part," Terretta said. "We're changing little wrinkles here and there because our personnel is so different. For the most part, our whole scheme is pretty much the same."
OPRF (1-0) faces St. Ignatius, Lyons Township and Glenbard West in early April, which represents a tricky slate of games to gauge the Huskies' progress.
"We've got a lot of challenges," Terretta said. "Glenbard West is big and strong and they're very fundamentally sound. Lyons Township is always stellar. It's a tough schedule, but we are very confident in our abilities here. We see a lot of good things with this team."
Regardless of results, the stiff competition in the West Suburban Conference Silver Division can only benefit the new-look Huskies.
"Our conference matchups are always a challenge," Hanley said. "We know that some of the best teams like Hinsdale Central, Lyons Township and Glenbard West in the state are in our conference, but hopefully we can contend this season."
OPRF faces host Schaumburg on Thursday (12:00 p.m.).
The Midtown Athletic Club Athlete Feature, The Midtown Athletic Club Athlete of the Week and weekly sports calendar/scoreboard are sponsored by Midtown Athletic Club in Oak Park.