Niagara Gazette — Early in 2013, it looked as if the Niagara-Wheatfield boys lacrosse team, coming off a sectional title two seasons prior and a runner-up finish in 2012, was going to take a year off from making another deep playoff run.
The Falcons were 1-3, prompting coach Vince Schiffert to adjust the whole style and dynamic of the team. The offense was different. Same with the defense.
And the team bought into it all, culminating with the Falcons reaching their third consecutive Section VI Class B final against archrival Hamburg. It was the grudge match to settle the previous two finals, and the Bulldogs came out the victor, 18-7.
N-W, which finished 11-7 a year ago, has the tools to carry the momentum from that strong finish into 2014. Which would also indicate it is poised for revenge against Hamburg in the postseason. It’s a rivalry that has budded to a blossom thanks to the Falcons joining Hamburg as a premier program in Western New York.
Half the team’s starters are seniors with an abundance of both experience and skill. Brennen Ferguson, who is signed to play at Division I power Syracuse next year, heads that list. He’s a tri-captain and one of three senior starters on attack.
The season is in its infancy, but Schiffert can already decipher a difference in his team when compared with this point a year ago. His veterans, he thinks, look more prepared to play just as well in April as they have in sectionals.
“Last year a couple of our guys weren’t ready to play,” Schiffert said. “It’s a whole different attitude with the guys now. They were always hard workers, but now they know they can play, and you can just see the confidence. They want the ball, they want to be there, and it’s a big difference.”