POULSBO — Looking back at the North Kitsap Lacrosse team’s previous record, Rob Taft found the team has never ended the season with a winning record. Taft, the team’s new head coach, hopes to change that this season.
“I want to surprise everyone when we make it to the playoffs,” Taft said.
Taft would like the North Kitsap team have at least an even season record.
North Kitsap has an early opportunity to prove itself. The team plays its first games at Strawberry Field against the Bainbridge JV team and South Kitsap in a jamboree. The jamboree begins at 10 a.m.
The jamboree proceeds a non-league game against Peninsula-Gig Harbor at 7 p.m. at Foster High School. Gig Harbor is the bane of North Kitsap; never losing to NK.
“They’re going to be tough,” Taft said. One of the returning attackers was All-Conference last season.
North Kitsap has a roster of 18 players, down from last season. The team isn’t without its strength though.
Of the 18, eight are seniors. Two of those seniors, Landen Young and Nick Lengenverg, look to be key players in Taft’s book.
Young, the team’s goalie, “can stop everything,” Taft said. Young also directs play on the field well.
Lengenverg will be the team’s go-to player to shutdown offensive attacks. “He can shutdown anyone on any team,” Taft said.
Judging off the team’s strengths right now, Taft said he expects NK to give up no more than seven goals per game. If a team averages five to seven goals against it, Taft said that team will be looking at winning.
NK’s strength is in its defense.
However, the team has three good shooters, including a freshman with a shot that sends the ball through the air at about 100 MPH, Taft said.
The team’s average years of experience is about four, Taft said.
Lengenverg said he will do his best to help lead the team to victory, offering the best support he can in one season.
Lengenverg has played lacrosse for five years. Though he played offense last season, he prefers defense. Lengenverg relies on constant poke-checks, and utilizing the full length of the lacrosse stick (6-feet). He does his best to be aware of everyone around him.
Taft said he will have Lengenverg focus on the opponents strongest offensive players and shut them down.
“I have tried to do that in the past,” Lengenverg said of the expectations. “I think I will be able to do that to the best of my ability.”
“Yes, I will be able to shutdown anyone.”
Taft, 24, is now five years in the Navy. He moved to Kitsap from Maryland, where he was born and raised. He began playing lacrosse as a boy and stuck with it.
Because the lacrosse culture is young in the Puget Sound area, Taft said he will be working with the NK team on its lacrosse IQ. Understanding the game is just as important as technique. He said his team needs to learn to work together on the field; it can’t be a one-man show, wins will come from the 10 players working together on the field. Communication is key, he said.
As for the non-league game against Gig Harbor, Lengenverg admits NK has struggled in the past, but with Taft as coach, he said NK could have a chance.