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Ithaca Week

Lil Red inexperience brings adversity to lacrosse season

A player from Ithaca and a player from Bishop Timon St. Jude face-off during a game.
Over the last 4 years, Charlie Estill built an impressive high school lacrosse resume. The lanky, 6’4” senior captain made Ithaca High School’s varsity team all four years, notching 30 points as a sophomore and 45 points as a junior. This past August, Estill took the first step in transitioning from Lil’ Red to Big Red by committing to Cornell University.

But surviving this season is Estill and the rest of Lil’ Red’s biggest challenge of the last half decade; the team graduated 26 seniors, head coach Frank Welch said, including most of their offensive firepower.

“We lost 9 out of our top 10 scorers from last year’s team,” Welch said. “We’ve got Charlie Estill back, who’s really good. We were a big transition team. We’ve got 3 new defensemen and a new goalie to start out. We don’t get out quite as quick as we have in the past.”

The inexperience led to Lil’ Red snapping their 53-0 record on their home turf in their first game of the season, losing to Horseheads High School 14-10. Timon St. Jude of Buffalo, NY, handed the team another loss on Saturday, bringing their record down to 2-3. That represents Ithaca’s worst start since 2007, when the team went 1-4 in their first five games and finished 9-10.

“After the first game it was a heartbreaker because our record at home turf was 53-0 up until that point, so [we] really took it to heart,” senior long-pole Zach Pinney said. “I think getting into practice that following Friday, we really pushed in practice and kids started to work a lot harder.”

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The sentiment was similar throughout Lil Red’s captains and coaches. Senior goalie Matt Fricke said he thinks the start to the season served as a reality check for the team.

“At first we had our heads down, but I think we realized that we’re going to have growing pains,” Fricke said. “So we stepped up the next practice, and we learned to be less cocky.”

Welch, who is in his 38th year as head coach, said he believes his team is working against time, and is optimistic when asked about his thoughts on the future of the season.

“I’m pretty positive about it, but I’m kind of that way in nature,” Welch said. “This group of kids, once they figure out that they have to work, the guys that have been around long enough have been working really hard and the young kids are figuring it out. But it takes awhile to step up and play.”

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