One year removed from a season that included 14 wins and an appearance in the third round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A boys lacrosse playoffs, Leesville Road has remained successful despite quite a bit of attrition.
Although they’ve relied on several young players to feature in prominent roles, the Pride is 10-2, unbeaten against opponents other than Broughton. As a result, coach Franklin Zirkle’s team has a firm grip on second place in the Cap 8/Greater Neuse 4A.
Leesville Road is averaging 13.8 goals per game, and has earned quality victories against opponents like Wakefield, Millbrook and Heritage.
“If you told me ahead of the season that we would start off 8-2 with five freshmen on varsity, I might have given you kind of a funny look,” Zirkle said. “But I like what I see and I like what we got going right now.”
Among the underclassmen stepping up, Zirkle praised Brian Fitz, Zack Blakeman, Sean O’Brien, Carson Potts and Colin Trom. In the Pride’s most recent 15-7 loss against Broughton, Fitz turned in a three-point performance (two goals, one assist).
Zirkle expects those guys to improve even more as they become more accustomed to what’s expected of them.
“It’s all about experience,” he said. “You just have to give them touches and give them opportunities.”
Even with the youth infusion, Zirkle is still counting on veterans like Nolan Brunick and Isaac Thomas. Both senior midfielders, the two play versatile roles for the Pride.
“They are the quintessential two-way midfielders, which is something that we need in lacrosse as the game has changed now,” Zirkle said. “Those guys can log a lot of minutes.”