Saint lacrosse stars move on

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 19, 2003

Suffolk News-Herald

Don Birmingham was certainly glad when his Nansemond-Suffolk Academy (NSA) lacrosse team won its second-consecutive TCIS title last week. But, as he pointed out at the season-ending banquet on Sunday evening at NSA, winning wasn’t always the best thing about coaching the young Saints.

&uot;This was a great year, but not just because we won the title,&uot; said Birmingham, whose team finished 4-0 in TCIS competition and defeated Norfolk Academy (NA) in double-overtime to take the season tournament title. &uot;This team really showed a lot of character. When NA came back from a two-goal deficit in the last two minutes of the championship, this team buckled down and held them.


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&uot;This was a very interesting team,&uot; Birmingham said. &uot;At the beginning of the season, I didn’t know how good we’d be, but the guys worked so hard, and showed so much improvement through the season.&uot;

Bobby Flintoff, who scored the title-winning goal against NA, was named the squad’s Most Valuable Player on Offense, while Drew Stephenson received the defensive honor. Kyle Jett was the Saints’ overall Most Valuable Player.

&uot;The most challenging thing about this team,&uot; said assistant coach Bob Flintoff Sr., &uot;was getting everybody to remember what we said during timeouts. Two minutes after the timeout, no one remembered what we’d said. We want to make sure that no one ever forgets this.&uot; He brought out a box of shirts from the Winning Edge sports memorabilia shop that had &uot;Nansemond-Suffolk Academy: TCIS Lacrosse Champions,&uot; written on them.

Junior junior varsity coach Michael Barrett saw a great deal of improvement in his young charges. &uot;All the guys really worked hard all year, and I’m anxious to see how they do when they get to the eighth grade next year,&uot; he said. Dane Fisher, nicknamed &uot;Wrecking Ball&uot; for his tenacity, was named the Defensive Most Valuable Player, and Bennet Bynum got the Offensive title. Goalkeeper John Lotz was the Most Valuable Junior junior varsity Saint.

For their play on a varsity team that went 8-3 and made it to the TCIS semifinals, John Tuttle, Jordan Webb, Willis Taylor and Hod Verble achieved All-TCIS honors. Taylor (in his first year on the varsity team) and Verble were voted the Offensive and Defensive Most Valuable Players, and Tuttle was the team’s overall MVP. Junior Matt Bergfield got the Most Improved honor.

Trying to decide the final two honors was a daunting task for coach Trent Blythe. &uot;The coach’s award is always very difficult,&uot; said Blythe. &uot;It’s given to the player that defines the soul and spirit of our program.&uot; Senior Jamie Johnson, one of 17 graduating lacrosse players, received the honor.

Then Blythe gave his squad’s Award of Excellence. &uot;This is for the player that, year in and year out, exhibits not just a high level of skill, but strength of character as well,&uot; said the coach before bestowing the trophy to Webb.