Matt Rossi will have to wait until next spring to make his head coaching debut with the DeForest boys lacrosse team. His was set to replace Matt Koslowski this spring, but the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancelation of the season.
“It has been really difficult dealing with the loss of the spring sports season,” Rossi said. “It is especially difficult thinking about what the kids must be going through, especially this great group of seniors.”
Rossi felt the Norskies were ready to make some noise this spring.
“We as a team had very high expectations for ourselves,” Rossi said. “Led by a great group of seniors, we expected to continue improving after a great season last year.”
After an up-and-down regular season in 2019, the Norskies had a great postseason run to help build momentum for this season.
DeForest worked its way through the Wisconsin Invitational postseason tournament and landed in the championship game.
The Norskies finished in second place after falling 9-6 to Janesville in the title game.
“Our team performed very well last year,” Rossi said. “The guys fought through a tremendous amount of adversity and finished the season very strong. I’m very proud of what that group was able to accomplish.”
Since the cancellation of the season, Rossi has had limited communications with this squad.
“My contact with the athletes has been minimal,” Rossi said. “I’m struggling to find the words that would properly express my disappointment that the guys did not get a chance to play this season. The guys know that they can always reach out to me, and at some point, I hope to be able to discuss with them the impact that the season cancellation had on all of us.”
Rossi is hopeful his players will get a chance to play some lacrosse this summer.
“It seems like opportunities to work with the kids this summer could be limited due to the continuing uncertainty surrounding team sports, but I hope that they know that I am always available to help them in any way they need,” Rossi said.
Rossi is not sure how the lost season will impact the growth of his underclassmen.
“The season cancellation will make things difficult for the underclassmen because they lost many opportunities to get live game experience,” Rossi said. “However, I am confident they will continue to improve by creating unique opportunities for themselves to do so. I think this experience will help them appreciate every moment playing lacrosse in the future even more.”
As tough as it is on the underclassmen, Rossi knows it is even worse for the seniors. The Norskies’ talented senior group includes Alex Endres, Edwyn Erickson, Garrett Esse, Lane Larson, Pharis Martin, Riley Mean, Austin Schuster, Jack Thennes, Mitchell Thompson, Trey Warne and Seth Williams.
“This Senior class was as good as it gets,” Rossi said. “The group included both very experienced lacrosse players and first-year players. One thing that they all seemed to have in common was a shared desire to work incredibly hard and achieve the goals of the team. I think they could all sense that the team was capable of special things this year, and they worked to make sure that they were as prepared for the season as possible. I had so much fun working with this group in past years and the early part of this year, and the program will miss them greatly.”
When next season comes around, Rossi expects the Norskies to get back to business and build off the strong 2019 finish.
“Competing next spring will be an incredible feeling,” Rossi said. “I can’t wait to see how excited everybody is to get back out on the field. I think they will learn from this experience and more easily be able to appreciate all of the hard work that comes with being a great lacrosse player and great representative of the community.”