Birmingham United’s Kaitlyn Ziegele looks to outrun a Rochester Adams defender April 17 at home. At press time, United was 4-2 overall.

Birmingham United’s Kaitlyn Ziegele looks to outrun a Rochester Adams defender April 17 at home. At press time, United was 4-2 overall.

Photo courtesy of Sam Ferrari

Birmingham United lacrosse enjoying time together

By: Jacob Herbert | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published April 22, 2019


BIRMINGHAM — Birmingham United girls lacrosse coach Jen Dunbar is already noticing something with this year’s team that wasn’t entirely the case with last year’s.

“They’re enjoying each other on the field,” she said. “When they show up every day, they want to play, and that hasn’t been the case for a while. Everyone is out there ready to play, and it’s fun.”

Like most teams, Dunbar said there were things the team wanted to focus on in the offseason in order to improve for the next year, with chemistry being one of them. United held several team meetings where the coaching staff set challenges aimed to help the players — made up of Birmingham Seaholm and Birmingham Groves students — better enjoy each other’s company on the field.

Chloe Mihalcheon, a senior from Seaholm, provided an inside look as to how the team tried to grow closer from an on-the-field perspective.

“We found that a lot of times when we’re down, we start getting upset and blaming things on each other,” she said. “We found at the beginning of the season that when you lighten the mood, let it go and try to have fun, it really makes your team work so much better together.”

At press time, United was 4-2 overall and fresh off a 13-4 win over Rochester Adams April 17. United has won three of its last four games, but Dunbar is still searching for consistency.

The former University of Michigan women’s lacrosse coach said the team played one of the best games she’s ever seen from the program in a 17-4 win over Caledonia High April 12. However, the team was not able to build on that momentum and fell 15-10 to last year’s Division 1 state runner-up, Brighton High, the next day.

One reason behind the consistency issues are the injuries plaguing the team. Dunbar said the team has not played together at full strength yet.

On the field, Dunbar said the team has made defense a focus and a point of pride.

“We’re really working on the fundamentals of defense,” the coach said. “We’re moving the ball well, and they’re seeing each other well on attack. This is probably one of the strongest team attacks we’ve had in a long time.”

Despite the consistency issues, United still believes it has the talent and ability to accomplish its goal of winning a state title. Dunbar won three straight titles from 2007 to 2009. She won another in 2012 and made to the state final in 2016 and 2017.

“We want to win states,” Mihalcheon said. “But if we don’t make it to states, we want to go out knowing that we put everything into it that we had. We don’t want any of those stupid mistakes to be the thing that holds us back from winning states. If there’s a better team than us and they beat us, then that’s that. We think that if we approach it with our all, we should be successful.”