A red and orange faded sunset encompassed the entire sky, as palm trees surrounded the lacrosse field. The stage was set for the Jesuit Rangers to tangle with the Gonzaga Eagles. The scorching sun beat down upon the tired players, as they ached to make a play and end the game. White frays of the lacrosse net tear off in the wake of powerful shots from each of the teams warm-ups. Sweat slowly beads down the eye-black covered faces of the Rangers. Palms shaking with nerves, Senior Blake Buell hypes up the team with a scorching shot in warm-ups. Lights shine down upon each team, illuminating the grounds for battle as the players prepared to give their all.
The Dallas Jesuit Rangers, who are ranked 16th in the country and boast an 8-0 record to start the season, traveled to Arizona to battle with the 2nd ranked program in the nation, the Gonzaga College Prep Eagles. The Eagles are highly regarded as one of the top teams in the country, and the Rangers knew the magnitude of this crucial game. Jesuit traveled to Phoenix, Arizona to challenge their fellow Jesuit brothers in a mid-season test to see where they stand for the season. The Rangers had been preparing for this game for a while and knew a win over the Eagles would send a message not only to instate rivals, ESD and Highland Park, but also to the people that regard Gonzaga as arguably the nations top team. Head Coach Chris Surran repeated this notion of the importance of this game to his team throughout the entire week of preparation as he asserted, “these guys are the real deal, they know how to play with the best.”
The Rangers and Eagles lineup at midfield, staring each other down as the referees pronounced the rules, junior goalie Luke Millican touched gloves first with the Eagle goalie, fully understanding the importance of their play to keep their teams in contention throughout the game. The first whistle blew, and the Eagles quickly won the faceoff and ran through the defense, snatching a quick 1-0 lead over the Rangers. Senior John Michael Priddy and the defense circled up and discussed the goal as Priddy yelled, “lets go, we can’t get down early, talk and we will have success.” Blake Buell ’16 returned to the faceoff, but the Eagles won another faceoff and executed offensively, producing a 2-0 lead. The Eagles ended up leading 9-0 after the first quarter, as the Rangers managed very few possessions.
Millican’s day was cut short and keeper Stephen Price ’17 entered to hopefully give the Eagles a different look. Junior Daniel Burnum, Senior Garrett Munck, and Sophomore David Sprock accounted for all 7 of the Ranger’s goals. Reece Ellison ’17 had a great game, amassing numerous ground balls to aid the Rangers in the hopes of offensive scoring opportunities and Surran noted that, “He played great, he wasn’t scared and he gave it his all.” The Eagles dismantled the Ranger defense, and the offense did not produce as efficiently as expected by Coach Surran. The Rangers were limited to few possessions in the course of the game and fell to the Eagles 18-7.
Zach Kissick ’16 added that, “We weren’t ready for the game; we were flat and didn’t match their energy. The problem was not our skills. They were ready to go from the first whistle, but we were scared.” Coach Surran told his team that, “We need to be ready for the next game; we saw where we needed to improve and how the top team in the nation plays and the intensity they brought to the game.”
The Rangers prepared to take on Brophy College Prep, a game that the Rangers needed to win handily to send a message and redeem themselves. Buell stated, “We need more energy and to relax. The game will come to us if we play in our style.” The Rangers were poised to make a comeback against the Brophy Broncos on Saturday.
The Rangers faced the Brophy Broncos on their home field. The Rangers looked poised to rebound after a poor showing against Gonzaga. The seniors set the tone for warm-ups, which ended up carrying into the game. The Rangers started the game off in a Gonzaga-like fashion, scoring a flurry of goals in the first quarter. The 6 Rangers’ goals scored in the first quarter were tallied twice by Grayson Hassell ’18, Daniel Burnum ’17, Jack Freeman ’16, Reece Ellison ’17, and Buell. Carrying this momentum into the second quarter the Rangers took a 9-2 halftime lead, with Munck, Burnum, and Hassell adding to the total.
During halftime Buell told his teammates, “let’s keep this intensity going. We can’t let up.” The Rangers closed out this game with a score of 16-3, ending their weekend in Arizona on a high note.
The Rangers schedule ahead of them includes: Allen, St. Johns, and Plano West, all of which need to be won to guarantee a playoff position.
The Rangers took on a formidable rival in Allen, a team that gave them troubles all last year. The Rangers performed well in the week of practice leading up to the game and that intensity and perfection translated to the game. The Ranger’s jump was led by Buell executing on face-offs, and Priddy hawking the wings for loose change on the ground, ultimately securing groundballs that led to extra offensive possessions. The Rangers offense performed tremendously against a stout Eagle defense, ultimately leading to a 10-0 victory. Senior defenseman Jackson Suarez noted that, “we still have room for improvement, but we are getting better each week.”
Weeks ago the Rangers battled with an interstate foe, St. Johns, an underdog coming into this matchup against the heavily manned Rangers. The Rangers looked crisp in warm-ups as Chris Surran added, “this level of execution will take us very far in terms of accomplishing our goals”. The Rangers executed their game plan in shutting off St. Johns best player with All-American John Michael Priddy, and offensively, the superior ball movement took its tole on the young St. Johns defense.
Sprock, Munck, Burnum, and Buell each headlined the scoring and showed experience and poise in tough scenarios, sparking the team. The Rangers led 10-0 at the half, as a result of the few offensive possessions for St. Johns and the superior goaltending by Millican. Ultimately, the Rangers slowed down the tempo of the game and finished with a 13-2 victory.
Wrapping up this three game stretch was Plano West, which has one of the better goalkeepers in the state in Ryan Darby. The Rangers knew this game was critical and couldn’t be taken lightly and that tone was consistently repeated throughout the week of practice. Junior Michael Kelley said that, “This team is tough, they want to win as badly as us, we must play well in order to win.”
The Rangers knew this game was going to be a grind-it-out type of game. They were in their first dogfight of the year. The first quarter started with a goal by Hassell; however, the Wolves tied it up at 1 to end the first quarter. Executing the offense, Sprock, Hassell, and Burnum found the net to give the Rangers a 4-3 advantage for halftime. Coming out of the break, the Rangers exploded to gain a 8-4 lead, with goals coming from Buell, Burnum, Munck, and Tabor. The Rangers had one more quarter to go to ensure a victory. A great defensive effort hounded the Wolves to round out the game as the Rangers won 9-4 with a final goal from Sprock.
The Jesuit Ranger lacrosse team plays this Friday against St. Mark’s School and the following week against Highland Park. Make sure to come show your support. Stay tuned to the Roundup for updates on the upcoming games.