Sterling-Mott Unified lacrosse coach looking for more success in second year of program

By: Jason Carmel Davis | C&G Newspapers | Published April 18, 2014

The Sterling-Warren Mott Unified lacrosse team won a division title last season in its first year as a varsity program.

The team returns all but goalie Aaron Rickabaugh from last season’s Macomb Area Conference White Division championship-winning squad. Rickabaugh graduated last spring. Sterling-Mott is made up of students from Sterling Heights High and Warren Mott.

Unified coach Steve Hunter said he’s pleased with how the team has performed early in the season. Sterling-Mott sat at 2-2, 2-0 in the MAC White at press time.

“So far, things are going pretty good,” said Hunter, who guided the team to a 9-6 mark in 2013, including an unblemished 8-0 record in the MAC White. “We’ve got (eight) seniors on the team, and they’ve all done a good job early on of taking the younger players under their wing because the young kids are still learning.

“We got into some trouble with penalties in a couple of games, but other than that, I’m pleased with how the team has played.”

Hunter said he was hoping to have more of a defensive-minded team this season, but early on, the team has shown the ability to score, as it did in 2013. Last season, the team in its 15 regular-season games scored more than 10 goals 12 times. Through four games, Sterling-Mott Unified has recorded double-digit scores twice and averaged 10 goals per game at press time.

“We’re more of a run-and-gun team. We’ve got guys who can score a lot of goals,” Hunter said.

Senior co-captain Dylan Neisler (attack) leads the charge. Hunter said Neisler, who April 16 signed a letter of intent to play at Lincoln Memorial University in Tennessee, has exceptional vision on the field and does a great job finding teammates for goals. He also does a good job of finding the net himself, as he led Sterling-Mott in scoring last season and tallied seven goals in a playoff loss.

Neisler and senior long-stick midfielder Austin Ross, who signed to play at the University of Detroit-Mercy, serve as the leaders of the team. Both are two-year captains. Hunter said his captains have exceeded his expectations.

“They’ve taken the younger players under their wing and have really been a great help,” Hunter said. “They do a good job of making sure that the young guys not only do what they need to on the field, but in the class, too.”

On the field, Hunter said his goal is to win another division title. The team is off to a good start, undefeated in league play and averaging 14 goals per game in two MAC White contests.

“We’ve been able to score a little bit in our league games. I like our chances,” Hunter said. “The guys are playing with a little bit of confidence, but we’re not getting too far ahead of ourselves. But we definitely want to win another conference championship.”

Sterling-Mott next takes on Anchor Bay in a matchup set for 5 p.m. April 24 at Sterling Heights High.