In a region dominated by baseball, basketball and football, South Kitsap High’s lacrosse team is striving to make a name for themselves.
In its first season as a full-fledged sport for the Wolves, they’ve already managed to surprise a few teams — and themselves.
Lacrosse is played roughly like ice hockey, where players may move around the back of the goal and can be sent to the penalty box for infractions. Ten players for each team are on the field at a time to fill four positions: midfield, attack, defense and goalie.
At the beginning of the season, the team competed in a jamboree with area teams. In a game against Port Angeles, the Wolves lost 12-1.
“They were laughing at us and talking trash to our coach, who was refereeing other games,” sophomore Alex Hogg said. “They utterly stomped on us.”
The next time the two teams faced off, the Wolves were determined to make it a different outcome.
“Coach came to us and said, ‘Go out for blood. Don’t let them leave laughing again,’” Hogg said.
And that’s exactly what they did. The Wolves beat them 14-4 for their second consecutive win.
“Before, they always came here and beat us,” senior Alex Scott said. “It really boosted the team up. We brought it to them, and they were not expecting it.”
Scott, who has been playing for years after being introduced to the sport by a friend, has earned a scholarship to play at Adam State University in Colorado.
“It’s a unique sport,” he said. “We’re all out here doing what we love, working for the person next to us. We’re a family.”
“Family” is an everyday word for the team. They talk about it in every meeting and say it to break every huddle.
“We wanted a theme for the season, and this came out,” head coach Julius Ifurung said. “As a family, we have each other’s back through tough times and good.”
Tough times is something the team is familiar with. Having only won a single game since 2012, the team is slowly starting to get recognition — although not from everyone.
“Not many knew there even was a team before this season,” junior Cayden Robb said.
“People will be like, ‘You play lacrosse?’ and I’ll say, ‘Yep, and we won.’”
The team has plans to keep growing, winning games and introducing the sport to more people.
“We want to keep the momentum going to make the playoffs,” Scott said. “That would be cool to do in our first season as an actual sport for the high school.”
For lacrosse, the top three teams in league play continue on to the post season.
“It’s up for grabs, and I think we have a good possibility to do that,” Ifurung said. “It’s an attainable goal for sure.”
Ifurung said the success the team is beginning to see has encouraged more players to turn out for the sport. But there is still a ways to go.
“We hadn’t been getting the numbers,” he said. “In the past we would get 14 or 15, but this year it’s doubled. We’re getting better athletes, and they’re coachable with a lot of ability. ”
Even with several first-time players, many members of the team have quickly picked up the sport. They even say it’s “not as hard as it looks,” but you do have to be coachable.
“You can know the fundamentals, but if the coaches tell you to do a V-hold and you’re dozing off and don’t do it, they’re going to say ‘get on the line,’” Robb said.
Although Robb and his teammates say understanding the rules can be a challenge at first, the camaraderie with the team makes it worth learning.
“You want to show up to practice because we’re all having fun together,” Scott said. “You play for your family and for the morale of the team.”
As they talked about their time in the locker room preparing for their first home game — and quoting DMX’s “X Gon’ Give it to Ya” like it’s everyday conversation — it is easy to see why they call themselves “bros all around.”
“It’s one of the best team sports I’ve ever played,” Scott said.
“It’s easy to give 100 percent for the kid across from you when we’re like brothers.”
And that’s what makes their burgeoning success all the more exciting.
“It’s special for us because we know where we were last year,” Robb said.
As they continue into the season, winning or not, it can be said they are doing what they set out to do.
“It’s fun to know we have each other’s back,” Hogg said. “And hopefully we can expose the sport to more people as we go.”
The Wolves’ next game is April 11 in Poulsbo, where they will face North Kitsap.