Stevenson lacrosse looks to outwork opponents

By: Jason Carmel Davis | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published April 12, 2019

 Sterling Heights Stevenson senior goaltender Tim Belzyt looks to  make a stop in an April 11 win over  St. Clair High. This year’s team is led  by 13 returning seniors.

Sterling Heights Stevenson senior goaltender Tim Belzyt looks to make a stop in an April 11 win over St. Clair High. This year’s team is led by 13 returning seniors.

Photo by Erin Sanchez

STERLING HEIGHTS — Sterling Heights Stevenson lacrosse coach Anthony Zuccaro has let the team’s elder statesmen set the tone.

Zuccaro, who is in his seventh year leading the Titans, let the team’s 13 seniors establish the goals for the season. That group, led by four-year starters Justin Gauthier (midfielder) and Ryan Wennerstrom (defense), has placed a premium on effort.

“They’ve wanted to have focused, high-intensity practices from day one,” said Zuccaro, whose team sat at 3-0 overall and 1-0 in the Macomb Area Conference White Division at press time. “They have a couple of games specifically they want to win, but that stays within the team, and they want to win the MAC White title.

“This is their season, and it’s the one that will stick with them for many years after they play their last game. We all know that winning is a very high priority for any team, but it’s impressed me that, in their No. 1 goal, they recognized that it all starts on the practice field and in the effort put forth during the time we’re out there.”

The Titans are hoping that effort leads to a bounce-back season. Stevenson went 3-12 overall and 3-7 in the MAC White last season. The team’s last winning season came in 2016, when the Titans won a second straight MAC Blue title.

Zuccaro recognizes that the depth of talent is stronger in the MAC White versus the MAC Blue, with Harrison Township L’Anse Creuse having won four straight MAC White titles. That has played a role in the team’s struggles the past two seasons, but the injury bug also hit Stevenson at various points.

“We have a lot of starters back this year, so we’re hopeful for a successful season,” Zuccaro said. “We know nothing will be handed to us. We’ve had conversations with the players, and our success depends solely on how they perform, and the effort they put into each and every practice.”

Zuccaro said the squad has looked strong in early-season practices and has been focused in games.

The Titans are balanced, Zuccaro said, with a solid offense and defense.

“We don’t have any superstars on the roster,” Zuccaro said. “If we play as a team, our scoring won’t come from one or two players. It’ll be spread out evenly over five or six players. I think our opponents will need to keep a close eye out for (Gauthier and Wennerstrom).”

Other players who Zuccaro believes will contribute include midfielders Matthew Stedtefeld, Riley Finley and Fahteh Gill.

If the team is to be a factor in the MAC White title race and beyond this season, the Titans must improve on possessing the ball, winning faceoffs and controlling ground balls.

“One area we don’t need to worry about is this team’s heart or desire,” the coach said. “We can teach them how to play the game, but character — you either have it or you don’t, and this team has it. If I can say the same at the end of the season, then we did our job and will have had a successful season, regardless of our record.”