If the Hickman lacrosse team wants to make it to postseason play, it will have to do it without its strongest leader.
The Kewpies (11-5) who are No. 7 in the LaxPower state rankings, meet rival Rock Bridge at 5 tonight at Cosmopolitan Park before closing out their season against Wentzville at 12:30 p.m. Saturday at Cosmo Park. Coach Jamie Mullen said the team needs to win both games to qualify for the playoffs.
But this will be the second weekend the Kewpies will be without senior defenseman Pasha Palangpour, who left the team last week for what Mullen called “personal reasons.” Mullen said Palangpour would not return to the team this season.
Senior defenseman Jess Bunch, who Mullen said would be relied on for his leadership, said that while it has been a little difficult getting acclimated to life without the defensive captain, sophomore midfielder Mason Poage has done a more than adequate job filling in.
“It’s been kind of hard adjusting because we are so used to relying on him (Palangpour),” Bunch said, “but Mason has stepped up and filled the role perfectly.”
Bunch said Poage, who scored twice in Hickman’s 15-3 victory over Parkway North on Sunday, did a good job controlling his man and adjusted well to using a defender’s stick that is much longer than the stick he is accustomed to using as a midfielder.
Mullen said control is something the defense will have to master if the Kewpies’ bid for the playoffs is to be successful.
“The theme for the defense is playing under control” Mullen said. “Getting your feet into position is the key to success on defense.”
At practice Wednesday, Mullen emphasized how important positioning was by reminding the Kewpies that the last time they played Rock Bridge, a 12-5 Kewpie victory on March 24, four of the Bruins’ goals stemmed from Hickman penalties.
Bunch said the Kewpies will need to be be smarter with their sticks to avoid giving the Bruins so many opportunities.
“We need to play more body and keep our stick checks to a minimum,” Bunch said. “Only when they are needed.”
Mullen said that players are working hard to overcome the loss of Palangpour because they know how important winning is this weekend.
“Guys know what’s at stake so they’re doubling their efforts,” Mullen said.
Bunch said there is no doubt about who is going to come away victorious this weekend.
“Oh, we’re defitnitely going to win,” Bunch said. “There’s no question about that.”