With its former star player graduated and playing for Greensboro College in North Carolina, one would think this season's OPRF lacrosse team would be missing a key part of its offense.
Despite the departure of leading scorer Jason Momenthy, the Huskies this season look to compete for a conference championship, as well as advancement beyond the first round of the IHSLA State playoffs.
"Jason was a complete player and our emphasis was on him last season," said OPRF head coach Dan Ganschow of Momenthy, an all-conference and all-state selection last year. "It's different now because we're more of a complete team. We've got the experience and the skill. We've got about 10 guys on the field that can take control at anytime, and that's a lot better than just having one."
This season's team is comprised of 17 seniors, with the two Nates in Nate Prescott and Nate Corwin returning to bolster the offense. Prescott followed Momenthy in goals scored last season with 32. He's expected to surpass that total this season, especially with the addition of Terry Cunningham, whom Ganschow moved from midfield to attack this season to add speed and scoring "to an already prolific scoring power." Cunningham has the experience and the knowledge to make a smooth transition. He has played on varsity since a call-up his sophomore season.
Adding to the team's frontline offensive punch is the return of the two Mikes in Mike Stephen and Michael Gedvilas, both of which played on varsity last season as sophomores. Ganschow said the duo have improved their games considerably in the off-season.
"Stephen is a more versatile player. He can excel on defense," he said. "Gedvilas has picked up speed and a power shot from last season. I look for good things from both of them."
The defense is anchored by two vocal leaders this season in midfielder Brad Raad, a former linebacker on the football team, and senior goalkeeper Eric Brown, who saved about 85 percent of shots on goal last season and has been heavily recruited by college scouts. Brown's strongest points include his transition game. The senior can toss a perfect 65-yard pass on the run.
The Huskies embarked on their quest to better last season's 12-5 mark with a 2-2 tie over second-ranked Libertyville and a 6-0 shutout of Wheaton-Warrenville South last week. Corwin and Raad scored in the tie against Libertyville, while Cunningham rattled off three goals in the win over Wheaton-Warrenville South.
How well the Huskies do against such powerhouses as Lake Forest, New Trier, Barrington, Lyons Township and defending State champ Loyola Academy will determine if they make it beyond the first round of the playoffs. The team will also look to unseat Lyons atop IHSLA's South Conference. OPRF finished second last year with a 7-3 record.
"We're a more aggressive team on both sides of the field this season, and we proved that against Libertyville," said Ganschow. "I'm expecting we'll keep improving each game."
The Huskies will host their first conference game of the season on Tuesday, against Hinsdale Central. They don't return home again until April 9, against Barrington.