By Lisa Byers
It’s game time.
The Meadville-Crawford County lacrosse team makes its season debut today when it travels to face the Erie Spears.
The contest begins at 5:30 p.m. at Veterans Stadium.
“We’re excited to get going,” MCC head coach John Heflin said.
The MCC lacrosse team is in its second season, but this will be its first playing a full schedule. Last year, the team didn’t get started until later in the season and was able to schedule just two games.
This year, MCC’s schedule includes 15 contests, including four on its home field at Eldred Glen for the first time ever.
“Last year, we were scrambling to find games,” Heflin said. “This year, we have a schedule on schedule.”
The home games are particularly exciting for the program, which is still trying to raise awareness and get students involved.
“It will be nice to show everyone,” Heflin said. “It is such a foreign sport in this area.”
Many of the teams MCC will face are relatively new programs, like itself. Others ,like Vincentian Academy and Cathedral Prep, do have PIAA affiliated varsity squads, though MCC will play their junior varsity teams.
“We’re a JV team,” Heflin said. “We are not a varsity competitive team. Next year. Then we start talking a whole world of difference.”
For now, MCC’s goals are simple: To win a couple of games and be competitive.
“Last year our goal was to get on the field and score goals,” Heflin said. “We want to take it a step further.”
MCC did achieve one of its goals last year. It scored not one goal, but three in a 5-3 loss to Kiski Area. Nick Findley, Michael Lazusky and Steven Heflin scored those goals. All three of those players are back this season.
MCC’s second game was a 10-0 loss to Aquinas Academy.
This year’s MCC roster is 23 players strong, an increase of about five players from one year ago. Heflin said he does not have a set lineup. He said it all depends on who comes to the games.
“Everyone plays equal,” he said. “We want everyone to have fun. That is rule No. 1. Rule No. 2 is to learn lacrosse.”
They are doing both.
“They are learning,” Heflin said.
That includes Heflin’s son, Steven.
John Heflin played lacrosse during high school days at Upper St. Clair and continued in college and other leagues at the club level.
When the family moved to the area in 2001, there was no lacrosse. Steven Heflin, instead, played football and soccer. Then one day, Steven saw a flyer hanging in the school for lacrosse.
“OK. I’ve seen a stick in the garage,’” John remembers Steven saying.
Now the junior and his father are working toward the same goal, to bring MCC up to par with varsity competition and perhaps one day PIAA affiliation.
“Right now we are self-funded and will have to stay self-funded,” John Heflin said. “So we’ll see where things go.”
Lisa Byers can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at email@example.com.