Eagles down, but still have eyes on the prize

By Steve Smith - Staff Writer
Tolland - posted Fri., Apr. 22, 2011
Tolland's Cody Daigle (#1) runs past his Suffield opponent in the Eagles' loss on April 20. Photos by Steve Smith.
Tolland's Cody Daigle (#1) runs past his Suffield opponent in the Eagles' loss on April 20. Photos by Steve Smith.

After dropping the first five games of the season, Tolland High School boys’ varsity lacrosse coach Victor Hurtuk is surprisingly optimistic. That’s because of the effort he’s seen in his team, including a goal versus Suffield with three seconds left in a game that ended 9-6.

“They’re learning something new every day,” Hurtuk said. “It’s a slow progression. They put everything out there. They’re not the most athletic group, but they know that they’ve got to work their way through every little thing.”

Hurtuk said the team lost about 80 percent of its scoring to graduation last year, and has only six seniors, but the young team is showing a lot of fight.

“For a lot of players, it’s new to them,” he said. “The best way to learn is through trial and error. I tell them not to be afraid of making mistakes, because they are going to learn. Each day they correct one new thing.”

Hurtuk has a unique approach to helping his players improve - having them fill out their own report cards, and update them.

“I have them fill out a card at the end of every game - three things they need to work on or need to improve upon from this game, and three things that they did well,” Hurtuk said. “So, hopefully they remember to keep doing those things well, and they learn to recognize what they need to correct for next time. It’s working.”

The team is also working on a few things as a whole. “We need to work on our transition game,” Hurtuk said. “Our middies need to recognize their match-ups a little better. Our defense needs to work on their slides. They know everything mentally, they just physically have to apply it and keep chipping at it.”

In his sixth year as head coach, Hurtuk said his senior captains, goalie Eric Horsfield and middie Kevin Kilguss, are some of the best leaders he’s had.

“Eric is the heart and soul of this team,” said Hurtuk. “He’s been coming since his sophomore year, and earned the starting role. He wakes up every morning at 6 a.m. and works out with me. He loves the game, and takes every loss personally.”

“Kevin’s adopted the lead-by-example philosophy, and demonstrates that on the field,” said Hurtuk. “He’s a quiet leader, who has learned from those who have graduated before him about what it takes to be a leader and take hold of it.”

Even after the 0-5 start, Hurtuk said the post-season is not out of the question, and the team’s resolve will stay strong, no matter what.

“Their goal, still, is to reach the state tournament,” he said, “You need six wins out of 10 games left, so we can only lose four more games, but they’ll keep trying. If they get past that breaking point, these guys will still keep trying to continue the tradition that has been set forward in this program. We’ve got a lot of young bodies in this program now, and a lot of young bodies coming in next year.”

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