The McLean High boys’ lacrosse team opened up the new season with a 10-7 non-district home win over visiting Yorktown on March 12.
The Highlanders, under first year head coach Chris Yi, led at halftime, 6-1, and held on for the victory.
"It was a lot closer than it should have been," said Yi, who was not as pleased with his team’s second half of play after having built a five-goal cushion at the intermission.
Li, who was named McLean’s new head coach in January, takes over a Highlanders’ squad that finished 5-11 overall last year and fourth place in the Liberty District. The team saw its season end with a first round loss to Yorktown at the 16-team Northern Region playoffs.
Yi said the early season has gone well for his new team. He already is impressed with the amount of support the club has received from the school, athletic director Tom Herman and his staff and the McLean community.
"I think it has been fantastic," said Yi, who coached Loudoun Country Day School to its league finals in 2005. "The amount of support the kids get is conducive to the success on the field."
Yi, who two years ago was head coach of a Western Loudoun under-15 boys’ travel A team that won a championship, went on to say his team has outstanding facilities and equipment to fuel a good program at McLean. He also said he has a good nucleus of seasoned players on his roster this spring.
One of the team’s top returning players is senior tri-captain Sean Slint, a mid-field face-off specialist who will play the sport collegiately at West Point next school year.
"He’s one of the top five players in [winning] face-offs in the region," said Yi, of the All-Northern Region player.
McLean received a boost with the addition of senior transfer student George Arkwright, who attended Falls Church High School last year, to its line-up. Arkwright, an attack player, tallied four goals in the season opener win over Yorktown last week.
"He’s kind of the point guard of our offense," said Yi.
Leading the McLean defense will be senior tri-captain Aaron Cornwell, who has attracted college interest as both a lacrosse and football player. Cornwell is coming off a 2007 lacrosse season in which he was an All-District selection.
"He’ll anchor the defense," said Yi, of Cornwell. "He has discipline and game knowledge. His body position and footwork is amazing. He has the speed of a midfielder and the size of a defender. He knows when to slide and cover the back."
Two other key starters for McLean will be junior defender Grayson Dahl and senior midfielder Alex Russamono, coming off an All-District season in 2007.
Handling the net duties will be junior Tyler Quinn, a varsity backup last year.
"He brings a lot of discipline," said the coach, of his goalie. "He did a lot of [offseason] camps and had a great game against Yorktown."
Yi said he and his assistants have been teaching the Highlanders a college style of play. The new game scheme has been received well by the players.
"I think the key [to our success] is going to be the transition into a college style program on offense and defense," said Yi.
The other critical factor in the team’s success this spring, according to the coach, will be the players’ overall physical conditioning.
The coach said his players have handled the new coaching transition well.
"It’s been great," he said. "They have been very receptive. We have very smart players."
The McLean uniforms are new this season with a nifty plaid jersey look. The traditional McLean team colors are still red and silver. The team’s pants will be plaid with a Scottish emblem seal on the left leg.
Over this week’s Spring Break, McLean was scheduled to participate in the four-team West Springfield Invitational. The Highlanders were set to meet Hayfield in a first round game on Tuesday of this week.