The 2011 season is underway and the Johnnies started off on the right foot going 3-0 against three UMLL DII opponents.
On Friday, Feb. 25, the Johnnies faced St. Olaf and secured a tough-earned 19-11 victory over the Oles.
The following evening (Saturday, Feb. 26), the Johnnies squared off against Carleton and cruised to a 20-4 victory.
"Our offense looks better than I've ever seen it before and we've had a lot of young players stepping up and performing well," St. John's long-stick midfielder Luke Gellerman said.
The Johnnies came out firing during the game against the Knights and were up 8-0 at halftime.
"We have put a lot of emphasis on our offense this offseason and the team is really coming together making the extra pass and finding the open look” St. John's coach Derek Daehn said.
St. John's finished out the weekend on Sunday, Feb. 27, with a hard-fought game against UW-Eau Claire team and battled to a 14-3 win.
With the weekend being the first of four weekends where the Johnnies will play at least three games in three days, Daehn knows conditioning and improving the team's depth is of highest importance.
"My approach to scheduling for 2011 was to minimize the number of weekends we played to give the guys breaks throughout the season and to try and make the most of our traveling weekends,” Daehn said. "In 2010, we had games during 13 out of the 16 weekends that spring and the guys found themselves a little burnt out at times. I wanted to give the team a chance to heal if they're hurt, rest and relax as well as enjoy their time off to be with friends.
"It's something that has been missing from the team in the past and I'm hoping it will allow players to better focus on lacrosse when the time comes.”
Next up for St. John's is a road trip to Redmond, Wash. where the Johnnies will play three tough Pacific Northwest Collegiate Lacrosse League (PNCLL) teams.
On Friday, March 11, the Johnnies will play Western Washington University (WWU).
"WWU is a tough team and they gave us a great game last spring,” Daehn said. "It's always an exciting game and should be again this year.”
On Saturday, March 12, St. John's will battle one of the most improved team this season in Western Oregon University (WOU). The Wolves have made the jump from being ranked No. 10 in the preseason to its current national ranking of No. 4.
"Western Oregon will be the first nationally ranked team we face this year and will be a good test for Denver,” St. John's midfielder Tyler Nault said.
On Sunday, March 13, the Johnnies will wrap up the trip against Central Washington University.
The Johnnies quickly realized the ramifications of a new rule addition this season that emphasizes contact to the head. Officials can now penalize a team with a one, two or three-minute, non-releasable penalty depending on the severity of the check. During the game against St. Olaf, the Johnnies were served 13 and a half penalty minutes.