Second-year members of the River East Kodiaks lacrosse team learned the value of organization this season.
Though the Kodiaks managed to take the ‘B’ Division city championships in their inaugural season in 2013, there was a hunger to improve in 2014.
Kodiaks manager Jen Harder explained the 2013 team was essentially coached by committee and held practice infrequently, but with Marc Beghin coming in to helm the team, the team shone once again.
The Kodiaks (7-1) finished second in the Manitoba High School Field Lacrosse League’s Doug Pool division, advancing to the division final on June 2 with a 6-5 win over Portage on May 30. The league final was slated for June 3, and provincials will take place at Sturgeon Heights Community Centre from June 6 to 8.
Beghin, who also coaches as part of the provincial program, said the players had plenty of raw ability, but required a little more attention to detail to truly move forward. The team practised thrice per week for two hours a day — more than the provincial team, according to Beghin.
"They needed structure, and that’s what I brought," Beghin said prior to the Kodiaks’ victory over Portage. "All the success has to do with their ability to execute the roadmap, the game plan that we put out as a coaching staff."
Grade 12 co-captain Matthew Allen said River East was trying to apply more of an indoor game on an outdoor field last season, but made appropriate tweaks to its game to compete this year.
"Last year, we were really playing more of a box lacrosse style," Allen said. "This year, we’re really moving toward more of a field style with the rules and the sets."
River East outscored opponents 67-32 in regular season play for the third-best differential in the 14-team circuit. Beghin explained the Kodiaks always had the offensive firepower, and were able to get their defensive play together as the season progressed.
"We’re an offensive team, for sure, but over the course of the year, we’ve adapted and implemented some defensive systems," he said. "Our defencemen have stepped up later in the second half of the season to make a huge difference to balance out the team and the whole field."
Grade 12 co-captain Coleton Benn said while the Kodiaks are significantly more disciplined on the field this year, which has helped immensely.
"We’ve really come together as a unit, especially, in practice, so the chemistry has been really high," Benn said. "There’s been a lot more accountability among the players. Marc has really put the accountability in our sticks, it’s all on us this year.
"We’re more responsible in games, not taking penalties."
Allen and Benn agreed the Kodiaks have a strong system in place, and just need to stick to it to compete in both playoff tournaments.