A minimum of 16 Warhill students needed to sign up in order for the Lions' boys club lacrosse team to be a go. It came down to the night of the deadline, with some last-minute recruiting, but the Lions got their team and avoided the alternative of having any of their already-committed players join Lafayette's roster.
"This has been our dream all along," Warhill assistant coach Walt Feurer said. "… It was always our intention to have three high school-represented teams."
Warhill, Jamestown and Lafayette students had competed on the same Williamsburg Royals club team in the Hampton Roads Lacrosse League the past seasons. This season, each WJCC school has its own team in the Peninsula Division of the same league, though none of them are officially affiliated with or sponsored by their respective schools. In essence, the privately-funded clubs are the Warhill Lions, the Jamestown Eagles and Lafayette Rams in name only, although in accordance with league rules, athletes must play for the team in their school district.
The ultimate goal is for the teams to be Virginia High School League-sanctioned, something that has grown common in other parts of the state, but not Hampton Roads.
Lafayette opened its home slate at Warhill Sports Complex Tuesday with a 9-6 win over Poquoson. On Wednesday, Jamestown followed with a 21-4 win over Warhill.
Due in large part to the well-established Williamsburg Warriors club program, each of the three local sides have been able to hit the ground running to a degree. Most of their players are experienced while each team lacks the quality depth of VHSL-sanctioned schools in areas like Richmond and Northern Virginia.
Jamestown boasts the best numbers with 18 on the varsity roster, and it is the only program of the three WJCC schools to feature a junior varsity team. The Eagles also have a Bruton student since Bruton doesn't have enough players for its own team. That is freshman Zach McKinley, brother of Jamestown assistant coach Ryan McKinley.
After the Royals split, it seems Jamestown got the best of the city's attacking players while Lafayette got the top defensive players.
Jamestown coach Todd Vischer expects his team to win a HRLax championship in year one.
"I think we should win," he said. "That's our goal … The only thing we're lacking is depth. Our second line of midfielders is all freshmen."
Senior attackman Chris Lansford scored five goals for Jamestown Wednesday with six assists and classmate Garrison Sherman tallied five goals and three assists.
Junior midfielder Zach Pennycuff, who was dominant Wednesday on faceoffs, and sophomore Marshall Flagg are among Jamestown's other top players.
"I think our attack could probably play as well as any attack in Richmond," Vischer said. "I think that we're a little weak at midfield, a little weak at defense. We have a freshman starting goalie. I think we have a bunch of weaknesses in relation to the VHSL-sanctioned clubs that have been playing for 10 years."
That won't be a problem as far as head-to-head competition. Club teams are not permitted to play VHSL-sanctioned ones.
Matt Rice scored six goals against Poquoson for Lafayette, which is coached by Brian Erwin.
Erwin said the Rams have some baseball converts. They've got some football standouts, too, including his son Jack and Liam Walters.
Walters is a team captain along with goalie Chris Belden and Wynn Berry.
Brian Erwin has been involved in local lacrosse for more than a decade and played for Washington College in Maryland.
"Lacrosse continues to expand," he said. "It's the fastest-growing team sport in the country. I think the play here is competitive and it's going to continue to improve."
Warhill got two goals apiece Wednesday from junior Nathan Brungot and senior Kevin Giles.
Another positive for Feurer Wednesday was the turnout.
"It's great to see the student body on hand," he said. "That's how the word gets around."
Holtzman can be reached by phone at 757-298-5830.