Coming into this season, the Fort Mill Lacrosse Club's third year, Head Coach Jim Van Blarcom had high hopes.
So far, though it's early in the season, Van Blarcom said he likes what he sees.
"We've seen a dramatic progression in the last three years," Van Blarcom said. "The team is coming together. I think we're better than we were last year."
In their home opener, the Jackets looked like an improved team, knocking off South Mecklenburg 16-3, improving their record to 2-1.
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Fort Mill stormed out to a 12-1 lead in the first half, partly because of skillful passing and teamwork between Fort Mill's trio of attackers, Steve Blanchard, Tripp McKemey and Parker Thomas, and also because of goalkeeper Chris Salerno, who was nearly perfect on the night.
"Chris has been consistently good for us in goal," Van Blarcom said about his keeper, who only gave up one goal before being pulled at halftime with the game well in hand so his backup could get some valuable game experience.
Justen Lane anchored the defense and did a great job clearing the ball throughout the game, Van Blarcom said.
As for Fort Mill's attack, Van Blarcom said he was extremely pleased with the way the offense performed, especially considering all three of the attackers are only sophomores.
"Steve, Tripp and Parker have been playing together for a couple of years, so they kind of know where each other are going," Van Blarcom said.
The third quarter of the game was highlighted by an outstanding play by the attackers.
McKemey made a clean steal as a South Mecklenburg defender was about to clear the ball. McKemey quickly scooped up the ball and made a crisp pass to Thomas, who had already positioned himself in front of the goal and shot the ball past the keeper.
Thomas led the scoring with six goals on the night and the three attackers combined for more than half of the team's points. Thomas said he felt like the offense had an advantage against most teams because of the unspoken chemistry they've developed by playing together.
"We've been playing together for four or five years. It's really important. I know what they are about to do," Thomas said.
Thomas said it was encouraging to get a big win early in the season, especially against out-of-state competition. Charlotte-Mecklenburg is an area well known for having developed lacrosse programs with skilled players.
"It's really cool playing against Charlotte teams. It's good to see the sport expand," Thomas said. "Hopefully we'll keep it going and make the playoffs. I think we have a pretty good shot at it right now."
Van Blarcom said it was a good team goal to make the playoffs, but said focusing on the Jackets' region opponents, Ridgeview, Blythewood, AC Flora and White Knoll, was their immediate focus.
"I think we should match up pretty well with those teams," he said.
The Jackets are off to a good start - 1-0 in the region with a 9-6 win against Blythewood March 6 to open the season.
The Jackets' next home game is Friday against Bluffton.