Coming off a disappointing 2022 season, the Castleton men’s lacrosse team was looking for a rebound within the program, and not specifically related to the record, but the cohesiveness of the team.
Coach Bo McDougall has been impressed with the team’s recent ability to rally together and put last season’s performance behind them. After a rough start to the season, the Spartans have won three of their last five games,
“The past two years have been tough for us, so it’s nice not to have that in the players’ minds as the season progresses,” McDougall said. “And we’re seeing that in games with them being more competitive than last year, and we’re turning some of those losses last season into wins this season.”
The players used the 2022 offseason, he said, as an opportunity to move on and develop for the next season.
As the team crosses the mid-way point of the season, players are looking to make some noise in the LEC conference standings. McDougall is amped about their upcoming matchups against East Conn, Plymouth State and Southern Maine.
“Those three games can really make or break our season in terms of where we’ll stack up in the playoff picture within the conference,” McDougall said. “I feel really good about how we match up against these next few opponents. I believe the talent level is pretty even so it’s going to come down to which team shows up in the right headspace, motivated, and believes in winning.”
Sophomore goalie Christopher Dindino, who has been stellar, is looking forward to the playoff push.
“Of course we all want to win, but crazy things have happened in the LEC tournament so it’s important for us to go out and just play as hard as we can,” Dindino said.
Senior veteran Matthew Mumford has been exposed to the highs and lows of what this program has experienced over the years. Mumford has been pleased with the team’s performance this season compared to the past, but he believes the team can raise its level of play through confidence.
“I think we have a lack of confidence to win games depending on the team because of the opponent’s reputation. A lot of teams look down on us making us less confident going into games, but I feel we have players who can step up and elevate their game no matter the opponent,” Mumford said.
Standout players Jonah Janaro and Ian Edgar have been vital to the team’s growth. Both Janaro, a senior, and Edgar, a freshman, bring different skill sets, solidifying their significance, according to teammates.
“I’ve always expected Jonah to be a good player for us, but this season he was asked to switch positions, and he’s stepped into this new role and played well for us,” Mumford said.
Janaro’s unselfishness has helped cement their defense as personnel and strategies change week to week.
“Jonah’s a freak athlete but super humble and pushes his teammates to be better,” Dindino said.
Janaro’s presence raises the play of teammates because of his team-first attitude, teammates said.
Freshman Ian Edgar was low on the radar for McDougall during the recruiting process, so it was unexpected to believe he’d become one of the team’s leading scorers this season, his coach said.
“Ian didn’t do much for his high school team. He was on a very loaded team at Shaker High School so he didn’t really crack the rotation much, but we took a shot on him anyway,” McDougall said.
The shot they took has paid off well as he became not only a top scorer, but also a player McDougall can trust when it comes to player development.
Player development is a big emphasis during and after the season for McDougall. The skill sets needed to help a team take the next step are all in the development phase. McDougall believes in having players play to their strengths during the season and focusing on their weaknesses in the offseason.
Time, preparation and efficiency is key during the season so it’s important to double down on what players do well just because time is of the essence, he said. The offseason offers an opportunity to debrief on your struggles.
“It comes down to short-term versus long-term, so once you’re in season the skills you have are the skills and we’ll use them to our advantage. But once the offseason hits that’s when we harp on weaknesses to help get those on par with our strengths,” McDougall said.
The team has a model they follow called INAM, which is an acronym that means “it’s not about me.” This model was established by Coach McDougall in 2013 because it really resonated with him.
“Whatever decision you’re making on the field, it’s not about you it’s about the team. If a coach is getting on you, it’s not personal, it’s about making the team better,” McDougall said. “You can even connect this to a dorm on a Friday night, the decisions you make reflect the team so I believe the more guys who buy into INAM, they’ll make our program better.”
This acronym is on the back of their jerseys and when alums who’ve played lacrosse for McDougall tweet, they use the acronym INAM as a hashtag.
The team has won three of its last five games and travels to Plymouth State on April 19 for its next contest.