Mason Bowen surveys the field intensely during early season action. (photo by Ralph LoVuolo)
Boys lacrosse in transitional year
Scripps Ranch High School boys lacrosse coach Anderson Caldwell is preaching patience and development to his team.
“It’s not going to happen overnight,” Caldwell said. “We’re continuing to lay the bricks and the foundation for sustaining a positive and successful program.”
Not the easiest lessons to heed for a team coming off back-to-back appearances in the Division I CIF San Diego Section Championship game; but perhaps necessary lessons for a team chock-full of new faces, with a first-year head coach.
“We lost a lot of seniors last year and are now going from a team of senior leadership to a lot of younger guys taking the key roles on both sides of the ball,” Caldwell said.
Caldwell, 29, is an ideal voice for the slow grind of development. A native of Fairfax Station, Va, he earned a spot as a walk-on attacker at the Virginia Military Institute his freshmen year. After making only sporadic appearances on the field, he played in 10 games his senior year, starting four.
Prior to Scripps Ranch High School, Caldwell worked as an assistant coach at Westfield High School in Virginia and at the La Jolla Country Day School.
Leading a young team as a young coach, Caldwell was quick to point out that it’s not only the players who are impacted by growing pains.
“There’s a large learning curve, not only for the kids but for myself as well,” Caldwell said. “We are in the beginning phase of it. Success will come with hard work from the kids and the coaching staff.”
After opening the season March 5 with a loss to Carlsbad, the Falcons dropped their next two games to Del Norte and The Loomis Chaffee School, before rattling off their first victory of the season: a 20-1 win over Mission Hills.
“You tackle the elephant by taking small chunks,” Caldwell said.
With a record with one victory and a tough stretch of games coming up against La Jolla and Coronado, Caldwell wants to keep things simple for his players.
“Lacrosse is very technical; Lacrosse I.Q. is built over the years as any sport is,” Caldwell said. “Transitioning from a senior base group to a younger group, you have to start back at square one and develop the basic fundamentals from the offensive and defensive side of the ball.”
Caldwell has leaned on seniors Eithan Taylor (offense), Zach Stewart (defense) and Jared Shulin (defense) as mentors to the younger players on the team.
“From a senior leadership perspective, I’m happy with how they’ve taken on the younger players,” Caldwell said. “They’ve helped out a lot by teaching the nuances of the game – that leadership is one of the things I’m most proud of (this season).”
With the regular season ending May 3 against St. Augustine, and the playoffs quickly approaching, Caldwell is optimistic about the direction of the program.
“What I want to see is getting rid of bad habits and developing new techniques – and hopefully that transcends into more wins and a positive playoff outcome,” he said. “We are going to continue to work the basics and fundamentals.”