Patriot’s ’23 Lacrosse

For the past decade of its life, Patriot’s Lacrosse program has consistently been a powerhouse in the region. Though the team has never won a state championship, many teams throughout Patriot’s years have been close.

The most recent of which was the 2021-2022 school year were Patriot placed third in the state, losing to Battlefield in triple-overtime after playing them three times throughout the season. Shortly after Battlefield would be beaten by James Madison for the State Championship. That season, however, was the greatest Patriot Lacrosse ever had. Patriot placed third in the state and second in the region with a record of sixteen wins and five losses. That season, Patriot also lost eight-teen seniors including two division one players in Zach Walsh who played attack and Aidan Fairchild who played LSM. They also lost two division two players in starting goalie Tristan Leonard and Tim Sullivan.

With the heavy loss of players, Patriot coaches had to take on the challenge of completely reworking the team, as the rising JV players had rarely played with the returning Varsity players.

Boys Varsity Lacrosse Head Coach, Dan Puhlick was interviewed on hist thoughts on the 22-23 season.

When asked about his feelings about the season while coaching an almost completely new team, he answered, “Reloading.” He elaborated, saying that after graduating eighteen seniors, keeping the momentum going from last year was the hardest part. He notes that two seniors this year, Sam Fernandez and Vince Smith helped lead the way and were strong leaders for this year’s team. He adds on by saying that the senior leadership on the team is very demanding but encouraging to the younger players. Puhlick also mentioned that the team got progressively better at thinking on their feet throughout the season. When asked what the team still needs for next year, he said, “We need depth.” Meaning with five seniors leaving this year, they will have a thin playing field and will need to reload and come back harder. As for the greatest struggle that faced the team during the season was injuries, he mentions starting goalie, Jack Schmelzer (Who Puhlick notes as a top-three goalie in Virginia) suffered compression fractures in his back as one example. Puhlick also notes that that the team has come a long way in playing as a unit and moving away from playing as individuals. He finishes by saying that this year’s season was one of, “Ups and downs.” and elaborating by saying they’ve both won and lost some very close, intense matches and that the teams record doesn’t show how strong they really are and keeping the momentum up from this year into the next year.

Throughout the 22-23 season, Patriot has accumulated nine wins and eight losses finishing third in third in the region, losing to Freedom South riding 10-9. Though this season has not gone to the heights of previous years, it has succeeded many expectations.