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OLDHAM COUNTY – It was the the simplest of emotions that played a big part in the improvement of the North Oldham High School lacrosse team this season.
After winning just one game last year, the Mustangs are 7-4 and were set to play Manual in the state Division II semi-finals May 18.
“We came back with a different attitude this year,” senior Austin Major said. “For one thing, we wanted to get a little respect in the hallways at school.”
The Mustangs have likely earned the respect of their classmates and of the rest of the Kentucky High School Lacrosse League as they are riding a six-game winning streak including a 7-2 first-round playoff win over Lexington Henry Clay.
Senior Midfielder Carson Hardy led the Mustangs with three goals and an assist while Travis Held had a pair of goals in the win.
“I think a lot of people may have termed it an upset,” NOHS coach Bill Roberts said. “The team has played really well this year, they have certainly met the goals I set for them.”
NOHS started the season slow with a 1-4 record before taking off on the win streak. Along with the Henry Clay win, the first playoff win in school history, the Mustangs scored a big overtime win over arch rival South Oldham.
“I think that really got our momentum going,” Major said.
While the streak has boosted the team’s confidence, the move may have began before the team started winning.
“We played teams like Male and Manual and they were games we could have won,” senior Eric Klingeman said. “I think we came out of those games with the attitude we can do this and beat teams like them.”
Klingeman, a first-team all-state defender last year, has teamed with Stas Abell to give the Mustangs a first-rate defense this year.
“Those two have been our anchors this year,” Roberts said. “And our offense has come along as the season has progressed.”
The Mustangs face a big task in taking on Manual. The Crimson are ranked No. 2 in the division and beat NOHS 14-4 earlier in the season.
Christian Academy is ranked No. 1 in the division and expected to meet the NOHS/Manual winner in the finals at 5:30 p.m. Friday at Trinity Stadium.
“We’re a different team now then we were the first time we played them,” Klingeman said. “We made some mistakes in that game that we don’t make now.”
At South Oldham, a young Dragons’ team that had just two seniors on its 31-player roster, finished the year with a 5-7 record in the Division II regular season.
“It was our first year as a strictly South Oldham High School team and we only had the two seniors,” SOHS coach Jim Murphy said. “It definitely helps having that leadership.”
The Dragons are expecting to return all 29 underclassmen on this year’s roster and add as many as 10 players with experience from the middle school program.
“We had quite a few first-year guys on the team this year and some of them we able to contribute,” Murphy said. “It’s a tough game to pick up on the fly. We think our future is very bright.”
SOHS will return its two leading scorers from this year’s team in sophomores Ben Irwin and Mac Vanlenten.
“We’re excited about the future,” Murphy said. “The middle school team is going great and the sport as a whole is really growing. We think we will be a much better team next year.”
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