Riverview has a young but talented squad, its coach said.
After The Out-of-Door Academy's Joey Palmeri ripped a goal from the right side in overtime, Riverview High boys lacrosse players showed signs of disbelief.
Some took a seat on the grass or put their hands on their knees. Others simply jogged to the sideline shaking their heads. The Palmeri goal gave ODA (3-1) a 6-5 home win over their local rivals, after the Rams had come back from down 4-1 in the second half. It dropped Riverview's record to 5-3 and led the young Rams, and coach Pete DeLisser, to regroup and figure out what went wrong.
"We have a lot of sophomores and juniors at key positions," DeLisser said. "Even though they have played some lacrosse, they don't have experience in these type of situations (closely contested games). We have not great decision-making sometimes on the field. We have to go work every day and try to get better.
"We have been working on trying to move the ball more, and we did that, but we were not getting any initiation on offense even though we moved the ball. We never actually ran our offensive sets. We could not get shot opportunities. We had five shots in the first half and one goal. That's ridiculous. You are not going to win too many games playing like that."
DeLisser said he thought there were too many Rams trying to do everything themselves instead of trusting their teammates to make a play. It's the same stuff he sees big-time college players doing every weekend, he said, which makes the habits in high school players even harder to break. There's no perfect solution to these issues, he said — learning to execute an offense comes with time.
To go into overtime in a game where the offense struggled as much as it did, though, is a sign of how well the defense played, DeLisser said. He pointed out the team's long poles — senior Matt Garcia and juniors Kai Hudson and Tyler Horiuchi, plus junior Josh Streitmatter, who did not play against ODA — as players who have continually impressed this season. DeLisser also credited junior goalkeeper Chris Johnson with keeping the team in the game when it mattered most.
The good news for Riverview is its collection of raw talent, which is high. It showed as much in a 3-2 road win against Plant High (9-1), traditionally one of the strongest programs in the region. Senior goalkeeper Wyatt Kaighin made 14 saves in the victory. The Rams also have players willing to fight for every inch of the field, like Horiuchi, who set the program's single-game record by winning 11 ground balls in the team's 9-3 win against Admiral Farragut High on March 6.
As the season progresses, the Rams have a chance to work out their offensive issues and become a threat. A big test awaits on Friday, as Tampa Jesuit, another traditional power, comes to down. The Rams already beat one this season, and they have the defense to do it again.