John Carroll head coach Brian King knows all about building a successful lacrosse program. As the coach at Hereford, King led the Bulls to five Class 3A-2A state titles in six years. In 2014, he took over the boys' team at John Carroll and turned that program into a power in the MIAA "B" conference. The Patriots are the two-time defending league champion and are once again the team to beat this season.
You put together a difficult nonconference schedule with games against Gilman, St. Paul's and Severn. How much did your team get better through this challenge?
Brian King: We challenged the kids to be the best practice players in the country every day no matter what adversity we are facing. I think the way we practice with focus and intensity has helped us gain confidence for May. It's been one of those years where the injury bug hit us hard and we have had kids really step up. We want to play the best ... to expose what we need to work on to peak for May. The film we got from those games was awesome.
During your current winning streak, your defense has not allowed more than 10 goals in a game. What has been the key for that unit?
BK: The way we practice and prepare. [Defensive coordinator Frank Mezzanotte] does a great job teaching fundamentals and drilling the 'D' on game-like situations. We should get kids back that have been out this week, which will help. Really impressed with the improvement our 'D’ has made the last couple weeks.
John Carroll has scored 15 or more goals during the past seven games. What has been the catalyst for that type of explosiveness?
BK: We are not a great dodging team and have to steal goals schematically. Our players' IQ has improved tremendously. We are working towards a point of a player-run offense and hope to be ready for playoffs.
As the two-time defending MIAA "B" conference champions, the Patriots are the team to beat. How have your players embraced that challenge?
BK: We just want to win the day and continue to practice the right way. We have yet to play our best game and embrace whatever challenges lay ahead.
How important has upperclassmen leadership been, especially with seven returning starters from last season? How do your veterans keep some of the younger players focused?
BK: Seniors have been great. We have 14 freshmen or sophomores on our roster, and the upperclassmen have really helped them develop. They are great kids off the field as well and are great role models for how to represent the school.