Having won each of their first seven games, the Smyrna High boys lacrosse team is just two wins away from equaling last year’s win total of nine, with eight matchups still to come.
Going back to last season, the Eagles have won 13 of their last 14 regular season matchups.
The Eagles have qualified for the state tournament in three of the last four years. However, with little more than half of this regular season to go, things feel a little different around the Smyrna program.
“In the past, at the middle part of the year, we’d dug ourselves into a hole and had to go on a run to get out,” said Smyrna head coach Mike Zulkowski.
However, heading down the home stretch of this season, the Eagles hope their good start can lead to the focus being on improving their playoff stock rather than fighting for their postseason lives.
Coach Zulkowski has been particularly impressed by the team’s talent distribution between the offensive and defensive sides.
“It’s been a huge part of what we’ve been able to accomplish,” Zulkowski said. “Iron sharpens iron, so to be able to fine tune our skills like that has made us better.”
The Eagles have been dominant in most games this season, outscoring their opponents this 86-15, including two 20-0 shutouts over Sussex Tech and Newark.
Smyrna has locked things down in the attacking end and midfield, thanks to strong play from Hunter McGuire, Ashton Pelton, Jason Zietler, Cullen Porter, Shayne Wilson, Trevor Burliegh and Hayden Compton.
“Sixty-one percent of our goals have been assisted on, so it shows you it’s not just a one man show out there, we’re very versatile,” Zulkowski said.
Meanwhile, Jacob Jung has led the way in the faceoff circle, while a defense including Easley Pierson, Nicholas Shane and Matthew Yoder has supported goalie Matthew Miller well.
“It kind of shows you how cohesive our defense is, we started installing things knowing our defense was coming back,” Zulkowski said. “They’re very cerebral. They understand and take in information quickly.”
After taking on just one team with a winning mark over their first seven games, Smyrna will close out the year taking on five teams that entered the week above .500, including matchups against Lake Forest, Caesar Rodney, St. Georges Tech and their opponent Wednesday night, Cape Henlopen.
Cape has won six straight entering this week's play, after a season-opening loss to Bullis School of Maryland.
Most recently, the Vikings knocked off the top-ranked team in the state, powerhouse Salesianum.
Knowing the challenges ahead, Smyrna is ready to embrace them.
“I enjoy playing tougher opponents and the team, they’ve picked up our philosophy that to be an elite team, you have to play elite competition,” Zulkowski said. “Coming into the tougher part of our schedule is going to allow us to find out are we a home playoff team or are we an away playoff team.”