MEQUON, Wis. – Concordia Wisconsin has high hopes for the 2019 season after being picked to win the Midwest Lacrosse Conference regular season in the Preseason Poll. The team returns a plethora of talent on both sides of the ball and with 15 seniors, the Falcons are poised for an outstanding year.
CUWFalcons.com sat down with sixth-year head coach Michael Fahey to talk about the upcoming season.
It has been a difficult spring with the weather affecting your outdoor practices, has those difficulties at all affected the team?
Yes, it has. We haven't been able to get outside as much because of the snow and cold temperatures, which hasn't allowed us to practice any full-field drills and that has hurt us. We have had some injuries and with that coupled with the weather has made for a rough start to the season. We are just waiting for the weather to warm up so we can get outside and get back to normal.
Following the season-opener at John Carroll, the team returns home for a pair of games, of which one is the MLC-opener against MSOE. How important is it to begin the season on the winning side of things?
It is definitely important. We have historically done well at home. It is important to be at home in front of our home crowd and to get the guys in a routine can be beneficial.
Eight of your first 11 games to start the season are on the road. Do you talk about that at all with your team or is there enough experience on the roster that they understand how to handle it?
We definitely talk to the team and explain how we handle our travel and away games, but we have a lot of upperclassmen, especially seniors, and they know what to expect. We are going to lean on those upperclassmen quite a bit this season for leadership.
What is the importance of building momentum to get to the second half of season, which includes four of the last five games at home, before making a deep run in the playoffs?
Yes, especially when most of those games will be conference games. It will be nice to end the season and hopefully, we will have some better at that point. Historically we have done well at home and we like playing at home.
In the past, the program has been picked second in the MLC Preseason Poll a number of times, but this season you were chosen to win the league. With the target now on your back, do you discuss it with the team or not?
We brought it up once and we said we haven't done anything, so this doesn't mean anything. That is all we talked about it. The guys probably use it as motivation, but we don't talk about it. As a coaching staff, we told the team that because they were picked number one they still need to work hard, still win games and show up ready to play.
What does this senior class mean to the program, knowing the experience they have of playing in the MLC Tournament Championship game every year of their careers?
We lean on this senior class in all aspects of the program. It allows us to move a little bit faster, putting systems and plays in and different things like that. A lot of the stuff is similar and they know what to expect, so it makes it a little easier on the coaching staff too. It's nice to be able to lean on those guys on the field, even those that don't play a lot have done really well during practice and on the sidelines helping the younger guys. It is definitely an asset to have that many seniors, for sure.
Offensively, you return nearly everyone from last year's team. How important is it to get in a flow offensively early to figure out who your go-to guys are?
We will rely on the offense a lot this year and I think when the offense gets off to a good start early our team feeds off that. Our offense will be important this year to us winning. We have numerous upperclassmen, but also some freshmen and sophomore that are pushing to get on the field too. We are excited to see what everyone can do on the field.
Garrett Wohlford is a key piece to this year's success, having been a three-time MLC Defensive Player of the Year and a three-time IMLCA All-West Region honoree. What is his value to this team? How has Garrett improved from last year to this year, or say his freshman year to now?
He can surely stop a lot of shots. Garrett really helps our defense and stop the ball from going in the cage, which is absolutely massive. He has been a presence in goal since his freshman year and he knows what to expect, and he does a lot of really strong things on the field. We will lean on him even more than we have in years past. I think his sense of the game, communication skills and understanding of how our defense works. He has really adapted to the coaching from our two graduate assistant coaches and I think that has been big.