Varsity boys Lacrosse stomps Francis Howell in season opener

Ricardo Pena stretches out to recover a loose ball

Ricardo Pena stretches out to recover a loose ball

Head Coach Jim McIntyre has seen his fair share of O’Fallon lacrosse teams over years of coaching.
But he has seen very few like this season’s O’Fallon High varsity team. Packed to the brim with 13 seniors on the varsity roster, the 2016 Panther boys’ lacrosse team will look to years of cohesion and experience to lead them. The core of the team, made up mostly of seniors, has played together at the varsity level since most of their sophomore seasons.
“The chemistry on this team is unlike any I’ve had since the inception of the program in 2008,”said coach McIntyre. “After sixteen years of coaching, this is probably one of the best chemistries I have seen in a team. Their effort on the field is very solid and the energy since day one of try-outs has been very strong. They know when to work hard but also have fun along the way. It’s really a unique dynamic to be a part of.”
Key players for the Panthers this season are in abundance on both the defense and offensive side of the field. Long stick midfielder Jack Belobrajdic returns in his senior year to help lead the defense. Earlier this year Belobrajdic committed to play lacrosse for the University of Indianapolis. Supporting Belobrajdic are core defensemen Joel Lindsey, Kyle Klausner, Cameron Forgette, and Kade Simmons.
On offense the team will look to returning midfielders to boost the attack, including All-State player Shane McIntyre.
“My whole offense shares the ball very well and moves it very quickly. We have some aggressive dodgers and good finishers,” said coach McIntyre.
In net for the Panthers are goalies Cameron Van Etten, Boomer Johnson, and Sam Burgmann.
With a large group of seniors and familiar chemistry, the team bolsters a unique sense of leadership and direction. The team is yet to name captains but, will look to Belobrajdic, McIntyre, Forgette, and fellow senior Mike Foytlin for a bulk of their leadership.
“Everyone is a leader in different manners,” said coach McIntyre. “The team doesn’t really need a lot of extended guidance and they have all bought in to the same goals both on and off the field. I tell my seniors to set the pace at practice and they just get it done. I’ve never had such a quandary trying to pick captains before.”
The O’Fallon Panthers kicked the season off last Friday when they hosted Francis Howell in a dominant 16-4 victory. Francis Howell, in its first year of varsity level play, was unable to match O’Fallon’s early pressure. Just nine seconds into the game Shane McIntyre got his first goal of the year to give O’Fallon the lead. McIntyre, who nears no. 14 for the Panthers, went on to score five goals and picked up an assist in the season opener. Also contributing big on offense for O’Fallon was Mike Foytlin with two goals and four assists.
Seven different Panthers put up goals against Francis Howell and 12 of O’Fallon’s 16 goals were assisted.
While there is certainly still a long and busy season ahead of them, the Panthers look forward to hosting Belleville Township on March 31st. The 2016 season marks the first time that the combined Belleville squad will compete in the Missouri 2 East conference alongside O’Fallon. Belleville is coached by former O’Fallon head JV coach Zac Bilyeu.
“It’s a huge step in the growth of the sport,” said coach McIntyre. “We are really excited to play them.”