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The Suburbanite
  • Boys lacrosse strong in the early going

  • Change has been good for the Jackson boys lacrosse team. The Polar Bears have posted a 7-3 record in their first season under new head coach Hans Rydquist and despite the transition period, Jackson has looked strong in the early going.

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  • Change has been good for the Jackson boys lacrosse team. The Polar Bears have posted a 7-3 record in their first season under new head coach Hans Rydquist and despite the transition period, Jackson has looked strong in the early going.
    “Expectations for the remainder of the season are very high.  We did have some growing pains early on learning each other, but we are getting better each day and each practice,” Rydquist said. “We have a lot of talented players on this team and expect to at least match the run we had in the postseason last year.”
    After seeing their season end on their home turf to Hudson in a 15-14 heartbreaker in a state quarterfinal last season, the Polar Bears have rebounded largely thanks to the play of leading scorer Tyler Furbay, who has been on a scoring tear in recent weeks.
    Furbay found the back of the net 11 times in wins over St. Edward and Walsh Jesuit, including eight goals in a 13-10 win over St. Edward.
    “Tyler Furbay has been the most consistent player so far this season,” Rydquist said. “He is scoring goals in each game when we need them, highlighted by the eight against St. Edward.”
    With Furbay fueling the offense, junior goalie Michael Winkhart has been the backbone of the defense as Jackson has won seven of its first 10 games. In the win against St. Edward, Winkhart turned away 12 shots and kept the Eagles at bay long enough to give his team a chance to find its way offensively. The close call stood in stark contrast to an easier win over Walsh three days later.
    Winkhart and some of the team’s other starters received a much-needed rest in the 13-6 triumph after building a large first-half lead. Furbay added three more goals before exiting and Winkhart only needed to make four saves as the Polar Bears overwhelmed the Warriors, dropping Walsh to 2-5.
    “We are lucky to have one of the top goaltenders in Northeast Ohio,” Rydquist said.
    “(Michael) Winkhart is a junior who has been starting since about halfway through his freshman year.  He is also very knowledgeable on defense and does a great job quarterbacking our defense. He has kept us in a few games this year with his stellar play.”
    Winkhart is also left-handed, making him a rarity at the high school level among goalies.
    His penchant for keeping his team in games was on display in a 9-6 loss to St. Ignatius on May 1, when the offense simply could not get on track in a 9-6 loss to the Wildcats. Solid goalkeeping wasn’t enough for the win, but the Polar Bears were able to rebound from the loss by going on the road and rediscovering their mojo in a 16-11 win against Solon to run their record to 7-3.
    Page 2 of 2 - The remaining schedule is a mix of local and out-of-state opponents, with two matchups with schools from Michigan looming and the May 17 regular-season finale against North Canton Hoover still ahead.
    Playing more consistently as the weather has improved seems to have benefitted the Polar Bears, who had some bumps in the road early going as they learned Rydquist’s style while having games rescheduled or canceled due to bad weather.
    “Bad weather is something that is expected in Northeast Ohio.  That being said, we would have liked to get a game in before the University School game this season.  As a team, we were still working on a few things before that game and it would have been nice to have the game against Green, postponed due to weather, to work some of these things out,” Rydquist said. “Implementing a new system and coaching style is hard to due when it is cold and rainy.”
    The rainy skies have faded into the rearview mirror in the past couple of weeks, and the forecast for Jackson lacrosse has improved along with the weather.
    Reach Andy at 330-899-2872 or Andy.Harris@TheSuburbanite.com.
    On Twitter: @aharrisBURB

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