NORTH CANTON The weather this spring has been terrible.
Fortunately for Hoover lacrosse, it’s the only aspect of the season that can be described that way.
The Vikings, off to a 9-3 start through 12 largely chilly games, have gotten on a roll and kept it going behind the efforts of nine seniors who have formed the core of a squad with hopes of going deep into the postseason.
Head coach Matt Gregory has seen plenty of weather highs and lows during his time at the helm, but admitted this spring might top the list when it comes to the worst nature has brought to bear on the lacrosse season.
"This my 16th year at Hoover and this is one of the coldest springs I’ve ever played or coached in," Gregory said. "It’s been terrible."
The weather may have been doing its best to slow down the Vikings, but with a strong senior class at the front to lead the charge, Hoover has kept itself on track. Senior Whit Stopak has spearheaded the offense and had plenty of help along the way.
The Hofstra University recruit is a skilled attacker and a focal point for the offense, but Gregory pointed to Stopak’s intangible contributions as equally important.
"It’s his ability to score … he’s relentless and that really helps the team," Gregory said. "He holds himself to a high standard and expects his teammates to do the same thing."
One of those teammates is goalie Cam Logan, who is in his third year as the starter. Logan’s importance to the team rivals that of Stopak, albeit for a different reason. The defense in front of Logan is young and doesn’t have as much experience as past Hoover defenses have been.
With several new players working into the lineup and other seeing bigger roles than in the past, having a veteran backstop is a big plus.
"Cam has played phenomenal with a very young defense in front of him," Gregory said. "He’s a great goalie, a great eraser and we’ve had a good defense so far."
As with most seasons for virtually every Hoover team, the Jackson game is among those circled in bright red on the calendar for the Vikings and this season’s matchup promises to be better than normal. Both teams have winning records and have the same combination of a veteran goalie and a new-look defense behind an offense that has been consistently solid.
"The Jackson game is a game we talk about all year and in the past few years, we’ve pretty successful against Jackson, so our seniors want to continue that in their last season," Gregory noted.
While the Jackson game is a big entry on the schedule, it’s far from the only tough contest. With an eye on testing themselves and preparing for the tournament as thoroughly as possible, the Vikings stocked their schedule with foes such as central Ohio power Dublin Coffman. Those tests have shown the Vikings where they stand as the postseason nears, but Gregory knows his squad has work to do before the tournament begins if it’s to compete with Ohio’s best.
"We have to be healthy … we have some bumps and bruises with our players and defensively we need be more solid," Gregory said. "Getting our new guys that experience has been great and being able to play good teams and get some wins has been huge."
With the weather looking like it may have finally taken a long-term turn for the better, the Vikings could be hitting their stride at just the right time and setting themselves up for a sunny finish to their season.
Reach Andy at 330-580-8936
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