URBANA — After Friday’s season opener, senior Eric Kolar and coach Gavin Donahue had no trouble pinpointing things Urbana’s boys lacrosse needed to work on.
There were some defensive breakdowns that could’ve been avoided with better communication, and the offense rushed at times.
But keep in mind, this was Urbana’s first official game in nearly two years, and the Hawks — like other Frederick County teams — had no scrimmages to tweak such issues.
And despite this unprecedented lack of preparation, Urbana spent most of the night looking like the powerhouse team everyone expects it to be.
With an offense capable of moving the ball quickly and spreading out Oakdale’s defense to set up scoring opportunities, the Hawks rolled to a 16-8 win over the Bears.
“It’s so exciting getting out with the boys. That first day, we were really competitive with each other,” said Kolar, who pointed out that Urbana’s practices are challenging enough because of the caliber of players on its roster. “So each practice is very competitive, which we love.”
Still, teams don’t get a true feel for where they are until they play a game. And after listing some of the aforementioned areas of improvement, Donahue saw things he liked.
“When we settled it on offense, we were pretty tough to stop,” he said. “And our transition was very good.”
That transition was fueled by athletes like Kolar, a football running back who sped down the field like he was being chased by a tackle-hungry linebacker, and crisp passing between a group of players who are unusually tight because of family connections.
Kolar, his twin brother Jason, and twins Jason and Jack Jozwiak are Division I-bound players who have been playing lacrosse together for years. No wonder they worked the ball seamlessly on Friday, regardless of this being their first Urbana game since the 2019 playoffs.
“Twins are close as is, and all those guys have been playing together since they’ve been, I think, 13 years old,” Donahue said. “So they know exactly where they’re going to be on the field.
“And then we have those other guys like Austin McMahon, Gavin McKay, who stepped up as a sophomore,” the coach said. “And those guys are fitting in right nice, too, so it’s a pretty potent offense.”
Throughout Friday’s game, once they settled the ball on offense, the Hawks had all of those players Donahue mentioned spread out on the field, passing the ball back and forth, biding their team to find a seam to attack.
Donahue said that approach was designed by offensive coordinator Tom Demaio, who joined the coaching staff last season but didn’t get to see his plan implemented in a game until Friday.
“That’s something he brought to the table for us,” Donahue said. “We feel like we’ve got six guys that can win their individual matchups, so we’re just trying to spread the defense out so we can make them rotate longer.”
Eric Kolar led the way with five goals and four assists. Jason Kolar and Jason Jozwiak each had four goals and two assists, and Jack Jozwiak had two goals and three assists.
Those four alone are a handful for any opponent, and Hawks like McKay (one goal) also were threats.
“They’re really good and they move the ball quick,” Bears coach Mike Higgs said. “So we have to watch the back side, make sure our defense locks it in there, and on offense we just have to take care of the ball.”
Still, the Bears took a 4-3 lead into the second quarter, then later scored three straight goals in the fourth quarter to prompt Urbana to call a timeout.
“The guys played really hard tonight, and I thought they played really well,” Higgs said.
Justin Hartz had four goals for the Bears, and Troy Ulisney had one goal and one assist.