John Carroll head coach Brian King wants to make sure his team is playing its best lacrosse when the postseason rolls around in May.
So King put together one of the toughest early season schedules of any team in the Baltimore-metro area to battle-test his squad and prepare it for the rigors of the regular season. It is a formula that has worked well for the Patriots, who are the defending Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association B Conference champions.
After an uneven start to the season, John Carroll has won five straight games and sits atop the league standings once again with Friends.
"As a program, everything we do is geared towards playing our best in May," King said. "We use March and April to concentrate on 'us' more than the opponent. We don't ever want to have [a] false sense of our abilities and have been fortunate to play a ton of well-coached opponents to learn and grow as a team. At times, it's tough to keep things in perspective or to watch us struggle because we are mentally and physically tired. It's a risk, but I think we are tougher, starting to gel and will be ready for any situation come May."
Matt Lowery has been a force for John Carroll again this year. He has helped dictate the pace of the game and has performed well on faceoffs. King has been impressed by his development.
"It was great to see Matt do well at the end of last season, because he works so hard and is a great teammate," King said "As Matt matured as a person, he became a better player. He learned to fight through the tough days and move on from setbacks. This year, he has continued to grow and often times changes the game from his success at the faceoff X. Matt is top of his class academically and keeps himself in great physical shape. He is a great weapon, both on and off the field."
Other players who have emerged this season include midfielder Jake Bowling.
"He has grown into a leader and plays hard on both sides of the field," King said.
Goalie Dean Laponzina has taken advantage of his opportunities and leads a defense that starts three seniors and has allowed less than 10 goals in 13-of-17 games.
King is putting the pieces in place for another deep playoff run.
"So far, the season has been a bit of a grind, and we are looking forward to May," King said.
"We need to play the game with passion, compete every play, be fundamentally sound while playing for each other. May can't come soon enough."