Janesville lacrosse team seeks breakout year
Last year’s team went 6-9 overall and 4-4—good for third out of five teams—in the Madison Area Lacrosse Association’s White Division. Most notably, Janesville led the Regents, who went 10-0 in the Red Division, on the road late in the third period before falling 12-6 in the final regular-season game.
“We didn’t know how to throw the knockout punch; and in the past three years, we’ve been able to beat the mid-level teams, but have not been able to be on the same field with the elite programs,” Janesville coach John Haney said.
“I expect our team to be able to hang with just about any team this season. Once you get over the hump and know that you’re at their level, who knows where you can go from there?”
Haney’s most tenured players, including several four-year varsity athletes, comprise their attack and defensive units.
“Our attack unit has been a core group that started the program,” Haney said. “All the starters are seniors, and they’ve all been together. I expect big things from that group–they know each other inside and out.
“The balance of the season lies in the middle of the field.”
Haney’s midfielders are inexperienced, but he says they have exceptional upside. He knows seniors Cody Jenson and David Tibbetts will anchor a staunch defense. And he’s sure all-conference athletes like natural scorer Darian St. Michael, Sean MacDougall and Aaron Turk will spearhead a dangerous attack.
“I can have the best attack men in the country, but if we can’t get them the ball, we’re going to be in trouble,” Haney said.
Janesville opened its season Thursday with a 13-4 loss to No. 3-rated Verona, a team with an exceptional midfield group that Haney could envision playing in the state finals. MacDougall, Mitch Miller, Turk and Taylor Haney each scored a goal for Janesville.
After playing in Stoughton on Monday, April 12, Janesville opens its home schedule against Sun Prairie at Optimist Park on Thursday, April 15.
The future is bright for lacrosse in Janesville, as junior (4th-6th grade) and senior (7th-8th) division squads begin play this season.
“Down the road, the kids feeding from our youth program will really help us out,” Haney said.
Getting kids into lacrosse earlier is a point of pride for Haney, who is not just an ambassador for lacrosse in Janesville, but also in Wisconsin, as he serves on the state board of directors.
This season, his high school squad is champing at the bit, but he hasn’t deviated from drilling the fundamentals in the early going. After all, he wants his team to have a foundation on which it can build to its full potential.
“I’m running out of excuses,” Haney said. “It’s time—do we turn the corner, or don’t we turn the corner?”
Janesville’s schedule, with home games at Optimist Park:
(6:30 p.m. unless indicated)
APRIL: 12—At Stoughton (Racetrack Park); 15—Sun Prairie; 17—At Kettle Moraine (Wales, Kettle Moraine HS), 5 p.m.; 19—At Lancers (Madison, Schenk School); 22—Waunakee; 23—At Heritage Christian (Brookfield, Heritage Christian HS), 7 p.m.
MAY: 1—Sauk, 5 p.m.; 3—At Sun Prairie (Prairie View Middle School); 11—Stoughton; 14—At Middleton (Middleton HS), 9 p.m.; 17—Lancers; 20—At Waunakee (Prairie School).