It's been a bumpy road for the majority of the players on the OA boys' lacrosse team.
A 2-15 season a year ago and a 5-12 season the year before has created an uphill battle for this year's version of the Tigers. But, with a solid core returning, coach Fran Yung is hoping 2012 will be a breakout year.
"This year, everyone stepped up and said 'We want to get our own identity'," Yung said. "We’re passing a lot more. Although our stick skills need to improve, they’re not afraid to pass and they’re not afraid to look for the open guy. I love that kind of offense. That’s when you generate a lot of shots, not from one guy but with six guys touching the ball."
A new attitude got the Tigers off to a solid start with an overtime win over Milton in the opening game of the season.
Although the Tigers have stumbled since then, falling to 1-3, Yung saw a lot of improvement from his squad during Friday's 8-4 loss to Foxborough.
"I thought we walked off the field feeling pretty good, because our defense is coming together and they’re starting to understand," Yung said Friday afternoon. "Offensively we still have a lot of work to do, but I like what I saw today."
Leadership for the Tigers starts at the top with OA's three seniors and captains: Joe Haederle, Nate Studholme and goalie James Dolan.
"They’re providing the leadership," Yung said. "They kind of know what I expect. When they got the captainship I had a talk with them about what I’m expecting and they’re all for it. They’re holding their own and the kids respect them."
The core of the Tigers is a group of juniors that came up through the program, Yung said.
With a plethora of varsity expercience under their belts, players like Ryan Chase, Sean Brennan, Ryan Evans, Corey McLaughlin and Matt Walker have already been making an impact with the Tigers for years.
"The core of the team right now is the group of juniors who we threw in the fire as freshmen," Yung said. "They’re holding their own now, which is good."
Yung said to keep an eye on junior Justin Davidner this year.
"This is his second year playing and he is just so athletic that he really kind of solidified our defense today," Yung said Friday. "He usually plays long pole middie."
The Tigers will travel to Franklin Wednesday to take on the 4-1 Panthers. A win will bring the Tigers another step closer to making the tournament - a feat the Tigers haven't accomplished since the 2008 season.
Yung said he hopes Friday's improvement will go a long way in getting the Tigers on the right track.
"For the first three games, I thought we were a little passive," he said. "Today we were a little more aggressive, so it’s still a work in progress."