SPRINGFIELD, NJ - With the start of its first junior varsity high school team, a girls youth team, and continued growth at the youth levels, there is no doubt that lacrosse in Springfield is "Here to Stay". The only question that remains is how long will it take for Jonathan Dayton to actually be competitive on the high school level?
Well if this year's eighth grade boys team is any indication, it might not be too long.
Successful high school programs usually have one thing in common, – successful Youth programs or that "feeder-system program". With most of these boys beginning in 5th grade, the oldest group of boys in the Springfield Lacrosse Club at its inception, these boys quickly took to the sport. A young and inexperienced team, they managed to score only two wins during their first two seasons.
Coach Brady Hendrickson, a knowledgeable lacrosse fan with no child on the team, stayed patient and stayed the course as he continued to stress the fundamentals and motivated his players into participating in clinics, lessons, and playing summer Club ball. His coaching was beginning to show the fruits of his labor as the boys, then in seventh grade, posted a 9-9 record. Playing mostly a "B team schedule", Springfield showed that they could compete and beat teams that were larger and more experienced. Wins over towns like Millburn, Cedar Grove, Monroe, West Orange, and Franklin were promising. However, playing against A to AA teams like New Providence, Summit, Scotch Plains, and even Nutley would still prove to be more difficult. That would soon change.
Expectations and excitement coming into this season were at a high. With several players coming off successful summer Club seasons and the addition of All-American (High School/College) Andrew DeCicco assisting Coach Brady, Springfield would be entered for the first time into the North Jersey Junior Lacrosse League (NJJYL). DeCicco, was inducted into the NJ Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 2003. He played for Rutgers University and then was a first-round draft pick of the Philadelphia Wings. Coach DeCicco served as assistant coach at Drew University, Rutgers University, Sacred Heart College, and Lafayette University. A four time New Jersey Coach of Year, he led Seton Hall Prep to its only State Championship, while also coaching Morristown Beard and St. Joseph Regional High School to successful seasons.
Continuing where they left off last season, the boys from Springfield jumped out to a 15-1 record with seven surprising wins against A teams like Nutley, Ridge, New Providence, Warren Hills, Somerset, Chatham and Summit. Brady's bunch showed much improvement not only in the win column against better competition, but also increased in Goals Scored at 5.1 per game (3.7 previous season) and Goals Against at 2.3 goals per game (3.3 previous season). This surprising season would earn Springfield the #1 Seed in the State Tourney.
Unfortunately, the Jr. Dawgs, coming off a four day layoff would be upset by a tough Cedar Grove team that they had beaten earlier in the season. Down at the start of fourth quarter, 4-1, a strong rally would prove to be too little too late as the Dawgs State title run would end at the hands of Cedar Grove 5-4.
But on a good note, the Dawgs would finish their Youth Lax careers at the Romp In The Swamp Tourney where they would go 4-1, beating Cedar Grove easily twice, Sparta, Parsippany and losing a surprisingly close game to an AA Cranford team 5-4. Although there was no championship for these boys, the season was a huge success. It was also a success for the town of Springfield and ultimately for Jonathan Dayton High School.