Senior provides veteran presence
By: Justin Feil
Nick Capps has begun the boys’ lacrosse season playing like a veteran.
With a West Windsor-Plainsboro North team full of sophomores and juniors as well as some seniors in their first varsity season, he knows he has to bring his best for it to be successful.
"When I was their age, we had a full line of seniors," Capps said. "It’s really weird being a senior when Bill (Galton) and I are the only returning seniors. When I was a sophomore, I was the only sophomore on the varsity. We had tons of kids who are playing in college now. It’s definitely a different experience for them. It’s a different experience for me.
"I have more confidence going to the goal. I’m taking it upon myself to get things done. As a sophomore, I watched a little bit."
Now a senior captain along with Galton, there’s no time for watching. Even the sophomore players can’t afford to be like Capps was two years ago.
"The team is them," Capps said. "It’s on their shoulders to step it up."
Capps is trying to provide the lead. When the Knights started slowly against Hightstown on Friday, it was Capps’ play that got WW-P North rolling for a 15-1 win. The senior midfielder scored twice early in the second quarter to break open a 1-1 first-quarter tie.
"This year, he’s a senior and one of our two captains," said North head coach Steve Czelusniak whose team has opened 2-0. "He took it upon himself in the second quarter. He stepped up when he needed to. Last year he was a consistent performer. He did a lot of good things so I’m not surprised. He realizes this is it. He and Bill Galton, they’re the most experienced. We have five seniors, but a lot of them are on varsity for the first time.
"He’s shown great leadership. He’s very intense at the games, as he was last year. He is one of the most intense players on the team. He’s got a good shot. And he takes face-offs. When we have a chance to substitute for him, we do it on defense. But if he’s at that end, he also plays good defense too."
Capps was happy to provide the Knights with the first boost Friday. It wasn’t long before the rest of the Knights also found the back of the net. John Feuerstein had three goals, Matt Mansfield had two goals and six other WW-P North players scored one goal apiece.
"It went right back to fundamentals," Capps said. "In the first quarter, we had four or five opportunities where we had an open man on the crease and we just didn’t catch it. We weren’t catching the ball. We weren’t settled down and keeping our cool.
"Once we relaxed, we started to score. We knew from the start we were the better team. Once we relaxed, the goals started coming. After I scored the first few, everyone else wanted to get in on the action."
Capps is willing to take on any role to help the young Knights come along. He knows this year that can’t ever let up, in practice or in games.
"Every day in practice, we just try to set a good example," Capps said. "With our lack of experience, everyone’s fundamentals are behind. Bill and I set an example on offense to get everyone started. It kind of sets the bar high."
It has helped the Knights that they have faced some of there less challenging games early in the season. WW-P North will see another level after today’s game against Allentown. Next week, they face current unbeatens Princeton High School and Hopewell Valley. The Knights are looking forward to the challenge after notching a few wins.
"We were a different team from the preseason," said Capps, who will play on the Clemson club team next year. "It definitely boosts our confidence. It kind of greases the engine and gets things working. All of us aren’t as familiar with each other. We haven’t played together a lot. Easy wins bond us together."
Added Czelusniak, "Our defense looks like it’s coming along. They’re starting to pick things up and learn what we’re teaching them. They’re learning where to clear the ball. It’s also a chance for our offense to work things out. They’re learning to move without the ball. We’ve had opportunities for the kids to not be selfish and look to pass at the right time."
It’s still early, and the Knights expect to progress farther than many more experienced teams. With such a young group that is learning to play together at the varsity level, there is more room to grow.
"We need to be more consistent with our fundamentals," Capps said, explaining, "things like passing and catching and ground balls. We’re making way too many mistakes, like on things that should be natural, like ground balls. That will kill us against the good teams."
Fortunately the Knights still have time before getting into the meat of their schedule. They have been working up to it with a pair of convincing wins before Saturday’s game against Ewing was postponed by rain.
"We’ve had a couple of the easier games which is great for us because we have so many of the inexperienced players because we lost so much to graduation," Czelusniak said. "It’s good to have a little success and gain some confidence before you go up against some of the tougher teams.
"We’ve started out nicely. We’re looking forward to continuing it. The mark of a good team is to be consistent. We’ve played two of our games on our schedule. We have to make sure we get a little better each game."
Czelusniak has seen that through the first weeks of the season. It’s a good sign for the young Knights.
"(Friday), we weren’t playing well in the first quarter," Czelusniak said. "Nick Capps, our senior midfielder, was working hard picking up ground balls and he scored some goals to get us going offensively. So far, the starting defense has played real well in these first two games. I set a goal for them of trying to keep teams under four. Dave Korsen, Dan Devery, they played varsity last year. It’s good to see them continue. Pat Wade has started in goal after being Doug Nosko’s back-up. Seena Alipour is a newcomer to defense. Those guys are really improving. That’s really helped us."
It’s helped the Knights plenty to have a veteran leader like Nick Capps to set an example. So far, that example has been ideal in leading the WW-P North boys’ lacrosse team to early success.
"I’m the only one that’s been on the team this long," Capps said. "I like to play the role of a leader and get pumped up every game. I know I need to step up my game and set a good example for everyone else to step up."