While some coaches might focus only on their team’s next opponent, new Lake Braddock head girls' lacrosse coach Victor Chen prefers to take a wider view beyond Patriot District and Northern Region title runs.
"Right now, what we have to do is turn the [Lake Braddock] program from people playing lacrosse to [people becoming] lacrosse players," he said.
Boys' lacrosse has flourished in the Northern Virginia area, and Chen credits the boys' youth systems for fueling the school’s powerhouse teams.
Chen wants to help create a similar early interest in the sport among girls.
"We're working on getting more feeder programs in this area," he said. "[Youth programs] will increase the awareness of the game. If I can increase the interest, everything else will fall into place."
But Chen isn't going to wait for elite players to come to him courtesy of youth systems. Right now, his work is with the Bruins and their goal is to make noise in the Patriot District.
Chen doesn't expect his team to be district contenders this season, but so far his structured offensive style has paid off in a 4-2 record.
"They've got to learn a whole new set of philosophies," he said of his players. "That's the most difficult part for the girls. They know it's a system that will work and they're working hard at it."
Senior attacker Vicky Sica is excelling in Chen's system. "He's way more focused on us getting better as players," Sica said. "He's really making us work hard for what we want to accomplish."
In the Bruins' first three games, Sica has scored 12 goals and has been an offensive catalyst for the team.
Senior midfielder Colleen Garrott said the team relies more on offensive units rather than individual play.
"He's got a different approach," Garrott said. "We have more set plays now. We're more focused, too. It's less freelance play and more sticking to the plan."
For senior Alex Kelly, part of that plan meant shifting from attack to midfield at the coach’s request.
While the change has lowered her offensive output, Kelly said she's happy to play an important role for the team.
"It's a bit scary because I've been playing attack since fourth grade," she said. "This year, it's all about being a team and I'm happy to do anything that will help our team."
The Patriot District is expected to be one of the toughest districts in the region, but with a steady game plan, Chen is confident his team can compete.
"We've got some very tough competition forthcoming," he said. "As long as we keep [reaching] our goals, we'll be competitive."