The 2017 Columbia Boys Lacrosse season was one of improvement and building for the future. After last year’s six-win season, the team went 11-8 overall, nearly doubling their win total from the previous year. They played strong competition but held their own as they improved significantly as a unit under Coach Sean Fitzgerald, Offensive Coordinator Dylan Heninburg and Defensive Coordinator Joe Gillette.
The core of the team was solid, as there were a number of upperclassmen who played very well and led the way for the team. Senior Ben Majtyka led the team with 37 goals, and had 50 overall points. Brian Young, another senior led with 40 assists en route to 67 overall points, and senior Orterro Felton had 47 ground balls to lead the Cougars. They scored in the double digits in nine of their 19 games, and had a very productive season on paper.
There were ups and downs, as the Cougars took a few hard losses, their worst two being 19-3 and 14-3 to Seton Hall Prep and Morristown respectively — two teams that are ranked very high in the state and have historically been powerhouse programs. However, the Cougars also put up impressive wins in some confidence building games. They breezed by Verona 17-4, demolished Nutley 17-1, and even notched a shutout against Newark East Side in a stunning 16-0 outing.
While the Cougars know they will be losing some of their main producers this coming season, they seem unconcerned. Junior defenseman Brendan Lackey, who has spent two seasons playing varsity, is fairly confident about the future of the program.
“My favorite part of the season was the lack of conflict between players and the overall chemistry in the locker room,” said Lackey.
Lackey attributed some of the struggles from the prior season to lack of trust between players. The team was not as cohesive a unit, he said, and it showed in their play and their final record. But it seemed clear that the issue of chemistry was alleviated this past season, and his forecast for the team is optimistic.
“I believe we’ll continue to improve and the sky is the limit,” Lackey said. “We’ll lose some of our core players, but the freshman really impressed me and will be a huge part of our success going forward. Also with coordinator Dylan Heningburg returning, and the quality of our midfielders and defensemen, I have no worries about losing players.”
It would appear that the Cougars lacrosse team is ready to make a run at the top of their division in the very near future. The upperclassmen laid the groundwork, and the younger players, as well as the coaches, are primed for more success in the upcoming seasons. The Cougars certainly seem well equipped to continue to push towards the top of their division in the years to come. As they hope to continue to add to their win total and make a deep run in the playoffs.
Photos by Blair Majtyka.