By Chuck Tidmore
Sports Information Assistant
MONTGOMERY, Ala. – The Huntingdon men's lacrosse team is looking to build off of last season's strong finish entering the program's fifth year.
Despite a 6-13 record in 2015, the Hawks won four of their final six games, with the season ending in a triple overtime loss to Ferrum in the Southeast Independent Lacrosse Championship game.
Head coach Andrew Carey hasn't used that loss as motivation like he thought he would.
"We thought we would use it as motivation, but we have moved on from it," Carey said. "Our returners have a better understanding on why we practice the things we practice. We ran through the motions last season, but the seniors have taken advantage of fall ball and the preseason to focus on the little things we didn't do well last year."
Carey has been pleased with the team's performance during the preseason and has seen a lot of improvement since the first day of fall ball.
"Preseason has gone well," Carey said. "We enter the season with the deepest group of midfielders the program has seen and we were able to settle our goalie situation early this year with Kristian Smith moving to defense where he has been a standout.
"With the help of strength and conditioning coach Charlie Goodyear, the guys have gotten a lot stronger and their conditioning is showing off on the field. The leadership that was forced on the guys in the weight room has been stronger than it has in years past."
While there is always room for improving, Carey has been impressed with the team's lacrosse IQ.
"We have definitely improved our lacrosse IQ since day one of this year," Carey said. "Some of the guys who came in and relied on their athleticism early on have started to do the right things. It's been a weakness in the past and now the guys have started to use their strengths for lacrosse specifically."
Huntingdon enters the 2016 season with the deepest team in program history. This season's roster features eight seniors, five juniors, six sophomores and 16 freshmen to make up the 35 man roster.
Carey sees this as a positive step heading into the first game against Tennessee Wesleyan on Saturday at 1:30 p.m.
"We're looking to put a lot of things on the table on Saturday," Carey said. "We have presented the guys with a lot of information and we feel very prepared with what we have. I'm excited for what we can put on the field. The guys have an understanding of what we want to do so it will be nice to be able try a lot of different things and be able to run a lot of midfielders.
"Tennessee Wesleyan has a lot of skill guys and will bring a good game. It is a good test for the first game of the year and we will have to work hard to get a win."
Huntingdon returns several key players from last year's team. The Hawk's offense will continue to rely on Jakob Works who enters his senior season as the program's all-time leading scorer with 135 goals. Other players to keep an eye out for will be goalie Fabien Gutierrez and midfielders Davis Dalton, Karson Hastings and Kendrick Ballard.