Photo by John Leyba, Mullen SPorts Photgrapher
Year I ran into the books on Friday night for new-look Mullen boys lacrosse and first-year coach Matt Cawley, a Mustangs alumnus.
No, it didn’t go as well as they had hoped, what with the testing schedule and a series of crippling injuries that ate away at their firepower like a corrosive on metal, but they finished strong and are upbeat heading into the off-season despite missing the playoffs.
Their 13-4 home decision at Brother Bernard Kinneavy Field at De La Salle Stadium put them fourth in the Centennial League at 4-3 and 6-9 overall, the program’s best mark since going 10-7 in 2016.
“We knew we had to come out and get a win,” sophomore Keegan Quinn said. “We just had to keep our foot on the gas.”
Mullen also won despite Cawley not coaching – he had been ejected from the previous match and had to sit out the finale. But afterward he was pleased with his team’s performance, noted his staff did a good job in overseeing the match and remained optimistic about the future.
“This culminated a lot of parts,” he said. “I’m really proud of all of the guys.”
In truth, he added in assessing the season, “in all my years of coaching and playing this has been the most bizarre year for (bad) weather we’ve had.”
Plus, when schools and activities were shut down a couple of weeks ago due to the threat near the 20-year anniversary of the Columbine Massacre, the matchup against Eaglecrest, which ended 5-10, 2-5, “would have happened on that Wednesday,” Cawley said.
As for injuries, the Mustangs lost senior middie Jack Berger at the outset and junior captain and attack J.P. Starkey five matches into 2019 to top a long list that includes concussions, contusions and assorted pulls and strains.
“But the good thing we saw was a lot of resiliency,” Cawley said. “It’s tough when you’re lean, but really tough when you’re lean and hurt.”
The Mustangs will lose 11 seniors.
Cawley cited the play of Quinn, Brandon Hane, Robbie Witwer and the defensive unit. Quinn scored three times and had five assists to the team in both categories (he had 22 goals and 18 assists). Gage Fisher, Hane, Peter Osborn and Witwer added two goals apiece, and Ethan Hart and Bo Kulbacki also found the back of the net. Hane was second on the team with 21 goals and Fisher had 17.
Ideally, Cawley said he’d like to form an off-season team to take on various clubs and keep the program building as well as attractive. His lower levels are “good” with the promise of more talent coming in for the 2019-20 school year.
“We’re getting players in all of the right positions,” Cawley said.
Quinn and Hane, both sophomores, are upbeat.
“I think it looks bright,” Quinn said of the Mustangs’ future. “With this coaching staff, I feel like we can do a lot of things the next two years.”
Said Hane: “I’m encouraged. Hopefully, we come out firing next year.”
MULLEN 13, EAGLECREST 4
Eaglecrest 0 1 1 2 -- 4
Mullen 3 5 2 3 -- 13
Mullen goals – Keegan Quinn 3, Gage Fisher 2, Brandon Hane 2, Peter Osborn 2, Robby Witwer 2, Ethan Hart, Bo Kulbacki.
Mullen assists – Quinn 5, Fisher 2, Kulbacki, Osborn, Chase Petri.