It's been a difficult first season for the Delaware Hayes High School boys lacrosse team, but that was to be expected by all, according to coach Tom Favorito.

It's been a difficult first season for the Delaware Hayes High School boys lacrosse team, but that was to be expected by all, according to coach Tom Favorito.

"We knew what we were getting into, but we are expecting to finish a little stronger, be a little more competitive," he said. "We've got some club teams coming up on the schedule, like Wellington, Johnstown and Big Walnut."

The Pacers had a chance to play their first season as a club team as well.

"We could've played a club schedule this year, but we chose not to do that for a couple reasons," assistant Tony Nieto said. "Most of the teams in central Ohio have been around for quite a few years, so playing other club teams meant more travel for us. Secondly, we didn't want to shy away from a tough schedule because we wanted to give the boys a chance to see what good Division I lacrosse is all about."

Delaware would have liked to have played a Division II schedule, but a change in the Ohio High School Lacrosse Association rules did not give the Pacers that option.

According to Nieto, if a team chooses not to play as a club team, the first-year rule states that the remaining teams will be divided based on a school's enrollment, much the same as the sports which fall under the OHSAA guidelines.

So the Pacers went directly into the Division I schedule.

"It's been tough because we're learning a new sport," junior defender Jacob Naegle said. "We had to learn how to play and communicate, basic packages and rules and everything from the basics of catching, throwing and shooting. We couldn't do most of those things when we began, but we're making pretty good strides in those areas as a team now."

Delaware's lone win was a forfeit over Watterson. The Pacers actually lost that game 13-0, but the Eagles used an ineligible player.

"We've only scored more than four goals once this season and we have never allowed less than 13," Nieto said. "We've never led in a game, not once. Right now, even a close loss would be a moral victory."

But the losing hasn't deterred the players' spirits or effort.

"We're still trying hard and we're having fun out there," junior midfielder Maxx Motter said. "I think our morale is still pretty good. We have great athletes, we just don't have experience. So I don't think anyone came into the season with unrealistic goals."

Still, the Pacers would make the same decision if they had to do it all over again.

"The kids realized they were going to have some growing pains," Nieto said. "We're still learning the fundamentals and there are a lot of rules to know as well. On top of that, the only kids we have with any experience have only played at the middle school level. So it would be like a college quarterback going into the NFL. It takes awhile to adjust to the speed of the game."

Delaware's leading scorer is freshman Josh Bender, who had 11 goals before last Saturday. The Pacers, who don't have a senior on the roster, are looking forward to next season when the amount of experience on the team should double.

"Our juniors and sophomores will have one year of experience, and we have 23 players on the eighth-grade team and many of them will come in and compete for varsity spots to join our freshmen," Nieto said. "Those kids in eighth grade will have three or four years of experience, so we should have a good mix, more depth and more experience, and that's exciting."

Thus far, Nieto said the team has played well at times, but lacks consistency. He said that's not unusual and has heard from other coaches who have gone through the same growing pains early in their programs.

"We're just taking baby steps right now, which is fine," Nieto said. "We've gotten nice e-mails from other coaches and even other players telling us that they've gone through the same things we're dealing with right now maybe five or six years ago."