WILLIAMSTOWN -- Many coaches believe playing the best teams will go a long way toward making their team better.
In the case of the Mount Greylock boys' lacrosse team, practice has played a key role in its success. The Mounties have rolled through Berkshire County so far this season and have claimed the county regular season title. They have also played Cathedral and East Longmeadow, two of the better teams in Western Massachusetts, beating them both -- by a combined score of 36-5.
The only losses for the Mounties have come against teams from different states. Mount Anthony of Vermont and Fairfield Ludlowe of Connecticut are the only blemishes.
So how do the Mounties plan to prepare for a postseason run?
"Practice helps a lot," freshman goalie Cal Filson said after Saturday's 16-2 win over East Longmeadow. "We're one of the best teams in Western Mass., so our shooters and defense are always working each other. It's basically like a playoff game in practice."
The out-of-county games are put on the schedule to prep for the postseason. Even with a countless number of big blowouts on their resume, the Mounties know they can't afford to take any time off.
Every game is crucial for the Mounties, as they are always working to perfect their game.
A challenge for Greylock so far this year has been starting fast. Slow starts have hurt the Mounties in both losses. In the Ludlowe loss, Greylock gave up three early goals. In the Mount Anthony loss, the Mounties had to crawl back from a steep deficit in the first half and couldn't hang on for the win. The team has used county games to work on coming out quick.
"We focus on that we want to replicate that in all our games," coach Jeff Stripp said. "The guys know the importance of [a fast start]."
A lack of focus, for even a few plays, can result in an unwanted result come postseason time. Last season, the Mounties topped Cathedral in the regular season. Cathedral returned the favor and eliminated them in the postseason. That's why Stripp keeps all his practices competitive.
"We try to make our practices competitive," he said. "Our defense is going against a very good offense and our offense is going against a very good defense. So I think that makes us OK, it's a challenge every day."
The Mounties have scored 319 goals this season. They have allowed 64. Of the top five goal scorers in the county, four of them wear Mountie red and white. All five of the top assist men come from Greylock.
Both Michael and Brett McCormack have surpassed the 100-point plateau on the year. But, it's those blowout games that keep them chugging along.
"I think those kinds of games are kind of a help for us," Brett McCormack said. "We get the ball moving on offense and we get our passing down, nice and crisp. Those games are good practice for [tougher] games."
The Mounties aren't taking their Berkshire County schedule lightly, however. In fact, the team is working on using it to their advantage. Not only do they have a chance in games to work on crisp passing and offensive strategy, but it also allows time for adjustments.
"I think it gives us a little bit of an edge," senior Ethan Ryan said. "[Other teams] are out every day playing hard competition. We're out playing county teams and I think it gives us a little edge, but I think it can be hard to maintain focus, being able to play at one level and then taking it up a notch to being able to get onto another level. But we work on everything in all our games. Staying focused, staying ready."
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