On a cold and rainy March day at the Lake Braddock black top head lacrosse coach Steve Price stood watch over his team’s practice with a disapproving stance.
With a week before the season's first faceoff, Price doesn't have time to wait for ideal practice conditions.
Instead, he's miffed by the prodding pace of a passing drill.
"We'll do this as long as we have to," he yells to his athletes. "I don't care if your sticks are wet. We can just run all day."
Price has been barking orders as head lacrosse coach at Lake Braddock since 1975. This season he's optimistic his veteran squad can keep pace in the ultra-competitive Patriot District.
His first point of optimism: a seasoned and hulking group of defenders.
"The whole defense is back and they're huge," he said. "We can be aggressive defensively because our guys are so big."
Three of the Bruins' top defenders, Matt Day, Steven Puffenbarger and Justin Cherry, tower over their teammates. Their 6-foot lacrosse sticks display the size Price raves about.
Size isn't the only attribute that defines the defense.
"Heart and the experience will characterize our defense," Puffenbarger said. "Granted we're not the fastest kids on the field, but we will push ourselves to be the best on the field."
Further adding to the group’s repertoire is that many of the players literally grew up as defenders.
"We have guys who have been playing defense since fourth and fifth grade," Cherry said. "We can be physical and we're going to beat some kids up."
To complement the defense, Price isn't looking for his midfielders and attackers to emulate the stylish offense evident in collegiate lacrosse programs such as Syracuse University or the University of Virginia.
"We're going to be a deliberate offense," Price said. "We're going to try to control the tempo and slow down the ball."
Price said the team is filled with athletic players, but isn't blessed with an abundance of stick-handling gurus.
"We don't have too many flashy players," he said. "[Simple offense] is how we run it."
Just as the defense is stacked with veterans, the offense benefits from the leadership of longtime lacrosse players.
"Most of us are seniors," Brandon Johnson said. "We have only one junior who will be starting on offense."
Johnson, a senior attackman, said the team's offense is showing glimpses of what can be accomplished this season.
"A lot of people thought we weren't going to be any good," he said. "But after the first week of practice, I feel like we've got a group that's going to have a good shot in the district this year."
Lake Braddock opens the 2010 lacrosse season at home against rival Robinson on Tuesday, March 16, at 7:15 p.m.