Sterling Heights, WarrenMay 15, 2013
From underdogs to top dogs
By Jason Carmel Davis
C & G Sports Writer
WARREN — The Sterling-Warren Mott Unified boys lacrosse was 6-0 in the Macomb Area Conference White Division at press time, good for first place with less than a week to play in the regular season.
A win over Port Huron High, in a game played after press time, would give the United team league title in its first year as a varsity program. Sterling-Mott downed Port Huron 17-10 April 23.
The Unified team, made up of Mott and Sterling Heights High students, had an overall record of 7-4 at press time.
“When we first started, we were a little iffy about our prospects. We thought we could be second or third in the (MAC White),” said junior attacker Dylan Neisler, a co-captain.
“Half of the team is new kids — a bunch of freshmen and sophomores. We’ve got one senior who really doesn’t play since he’s been hurt,” said junior long-stick midfielder Austin Ross, also a co-captain. “We’re always considered the underdog, which I like, so coming out on top, up to this point, feels good, and I hope we can keep it up.”
Coach Steve Hunter said his players did a lot of work recruiting other players. He said the Unified team has about five players who played for the Mott football team.
“Hopefully next year, with the success we’re having this year, it’ll grow in popularity in the school,” said Hunter, who’s seen his roster go from 16 to 24 players.
Hunter said winning the White was a goal established by him and his players at the start of the season.
“So far, we’ve done what we needed to do to accomplish that goal,” Hunter said. “For the younger guys, it’d be a big boost to win a league title. The older guys had kind of a down year last year, but they did all they could to get ready for this season, and it’s showing on the field.”
“That’s the whole point of playing. You don’t play to lose,” Neisler said. “The only thing you want is your league title and then success in the playoffs.”
The Sterling-Mott Unified team ended its regular season May 14 against Stevenson. Playoffs begin with MHSAA Division 1 pre-regionals, set for May 16, 17 or 18.
Hunter said the United team has a strong attack, led by Neisler, who has netted 65 goals this season. Hunter said goal scoring is the team’s strength.
Hunter called Ross a really strong long-stick midfielder. That position is primarily relied on for its defense, but Ross can get to the net, as well, exhibited by his 40 goals this season.
“What’s amazing about it is he does it with the long stick,” Hunter said. “(Ross) has about 40 assists, too.”
Hunter said his team is working on decreasing the number of goals it allows before the postseason begins. He said the Unified team starts just one junior defensemen with a group of freshmen and sophomores.
“They’re still trying to figure out where the slides are supposed to come from and things like that,” Hunter said. “They’ll get it.
“Each day, we just try to improve on little things.”
For information on playoff matchups, times and dates, check www.mhsaa.com.