Trailing rival Walled Lake Central 7-4 at the half in a game that would ultimately decide the city championship, Walled Lake Northern boys lacrosse coach Ryan Jay didn’t panic.
After all, he has seen his team in this position before and knew what it was capable of doing.
“I told them at halftime that I had seen them come back from worse. I think they were all pretty riled up to be playing Central for the city championship. I think we just settled down and made smarter plays in the second half,” Jay said.
Where the first half featured the Knights pumping shots that missed their marks, the second half saw Northern capitalize and push for a 13-10 victory April 24, giving Northern its fourth city championship in five years, according to the coach.
The Knights beat Walled Lake Western 9-4 April 13.
“This is my first year at Northern, so I didn’t have any expectations coming in. I really didn’t know how we were going to stack up against them,” Jay said. “I knew (the city championship) was a big deal in the area, and it was definitely a goal.”
At press time, Northern was 5-4 overall and 2-2 in the Kensington Lakes Athletic Association Lakes Division. The Knights have come back to win in multiple games.
“It’s given me a heart condition, but it shows they are resilient,” Jay said with a laugh. “Yeah, they get down, but I know they can flip a switch. I know we’re not out of any game.”
Last season, Jay was an assistant with the Bloomfield Hills United program.
He said the style of play he brings to the program is an aggressive one, much like a full-court press in basketball.
“The way you’re successful in high school lacrosse is being able to force turnovers, and then immediately push the ball. Push the tempo and get as many odd-man rushes as you can,” he said. “We like to apply pressure wherever possible.”
Jay added that he feels the team has lost a few games that he thinks it should have won, but overall it is where it needs to be.
“We’re gelling at the right point. Now that we have the city cup, the goal is to make some noise in the playoffs,” he said.
Jay credited the senior leadership, on both ends of the field, for the seamless transition and success.
He added that the team needs to improve on field awareness and “sharpen up on the little things” to make a splash in the postseason.
“I’d like to put us on the map, and I think it’s a feasible goal,” he said.