For the Thomas Worthington High School boys lacrosse team, its spring break from March 31 through April 8 was just another work week, as it had four games and a practice.
“We got away from the routine of going to school, but you can’t call spring break a vacation,” senior attacker Kyle Gratz said. “We still had practice every day.”
“It’s the nature of playing a spring sport,” said coach John Galipault, whose team was 4-2 overall and 1-1 in the OCC-Buckeye Division before playing Worthington Kilbourne on April 11. “If you want to play a varsity sport, spring break isn’t in your vocabulary.”
Gratz said the closest the Cardinals came to a “vacation” was a trip they took to Charlotte, N.C. Shortly after the eight-hour bus ride, they defeated Charlotte Country Day 9-5 on March 30. They then defeated Charlotte Providence Day 7-6 on March 31 before returning home April 1.
Also during spring break, Thomas lost Dublin Jerome 7-4 on April 4 and defeated Massillon Jackson 7-6 on April 6.
Kilbourne also had success on an out-of-state trip.
Kilbourne opened March 25 on the road against Huntingtown (Md.) Calverton, winning 11-10. Senior attacker Ryan Pritchett scored six goals against the defending Maryland Independent Lacrosse League state champion.
“That was a really nice win over a very good lacrosse team,” coach Drew May said. “We had played two scrimmages the day before and our guys were really tired. Calverton hadn’t played in three days, so they were well rested.”
Thomas’ previous trip to North Carolina was in 2005, when it defeated Providence Day 12-8. Galipault said it became more difficult to make such a long trip after the school district began scheduling spring break around Easter.
However, Thomas and Kilbourne make frequent trips to Michigan and Pennsylvania as part of their involvement with the Midwest Scholastic Lacrosse Coaches Association.
Galipault said long road trips can be challenging.
“Coming right off the bus and playing is always a concern,” Galipault said. “As a coach, you worry if the guys are physically there and mentally there. It’s a little easier to get them going when you’re playing a night game after school. They have to prepare themselves mentally after a long bus ride.”
“The hardest part is getting your legs underneath you,” Gratz said. “You have to play after eating ‘bus food.’ Usually there’s a lot of pizza and a lot of Wendy’s consumed on the bus. You have to eat the right food before you go out and play.”
Since 2009, the Cardinals are 10-2 and the Wolves are 9-7 against out-of-state opponents. Thomas’ trek to North Carolina and Kilbourne’s trip to Maryland mark the only times the teams leave the state this season.
That’s not to say that both won’t be playing host to their share of out-of-state opponents. The Wolves defeated Winnetka (Ill.) New Trier Township 7-5 on March 29 at home and will play Pittsburgh Shady Side Academy on April 27 and Sewickley (Pa.) Academy on April 28 at home. The Cardinals play host to Pittsburgh Mount Lebanon on Friday, April 13, and Murrysville (Pa.) Franklin Regional on Saturday, April 14.
Galipault said MSLCA games are a little easier to prepare for because of familiarity with the opponents.
“We know some things about Mount Lebanon and Franklin Regional because we’ll get some scouting reports and we played them last year,” he said. “We know what they like to run on offense and defense.”
The Wolves went 4-3 against out-of-state opponents last season. May said those games helped prepare his team prepare for the postseason.
“Teams are going to throw different things at you than they did in the regular season,” said May, whose team was the Division I state runner-up a year ago, losing to Hudson 14-8 in the state final.
“Playing out-of-state teams helps you prepare for those in-game adjustments.”
“(In North Carolina) we went into those games blindly,” Galipault said. “We didn’t get caught up in what they’re good at or who their players were. We just focused on what we needed to do.”