Viera lacrosse teams should develop into contenders


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The outlook for the Viera boys lacrosse team is a good one if they continue to show steady improvement. Photo by Carl Kotala

One team has an entirely new coaching staff while the other has a roster that features 12 players who are new to the varsity level.

Nevertheless, the outlook for both the Viera boys and girls lacrosse teams is a good one this season, especially if the players continue to progress as they have from the start.

“They’ve gotten so much better since the first day of practice,” Viera boys coach Charlie Crawford said. “They’re really starting to come together and play well together. They’re learning each other’s idiosyncrasies about what side they like to shoot from and how they catch and throw the ball.”

The Viera boys graduated 14 players from last year’s team and return just three starters — goalkeeper Ryan Morgan, defenseman Jaxon Lenk and attacker Rob Rider.

However, the Hawks have been getting solid play up front from Layne Miller and Julian Rodriguez with help from midfielders Nate Santa (senior) and Nick Rodriguez.

Tommy Saunders and Asa Anderson have been doing well on faceoffs for the Hawks, who admittedly have been undergoing a bit of a learning curve with so many new players.

Viera also has two new assistant coaches in Bo Bartlett and Joe Rodriguez.

Crawford fully expects Viera to challenge Merritt Island for the district title by the end of the season.

Viera’s girls have been showing signs of improvement as well under new coaches Tyler Heckman and Erin Miller, who both played at Florida Tech last season only to have their careers cut short by injury.

Heckman and Miller inherited a Viera program that is leaning heavily on a core of younger players who are new to the varsity level.

“We were impressed to find out that all the girls we have that are our all-stars were all on JV last year,” Heckman said. “We only have two girls that are returners. So it’s basically a new program.”

Top players for Viera this season include Grace Blythe, Taylor Martin, Lexi Osborne, Maggie Bowen, Alyssa Bache and goalkeeper Jade Rodriguez.

Though Rockledge will be a tough hurdle to overcome, if the Hawks continue to show improvement, they’ll be much tougher to contend with as the season advances.

“I think we’ve got a good group of girls,” Heckman said. “We have a lot of hard workers. They definitely want to win. If we can instill the right lacrosse fundamentals, we’ll definitely have a winning team.”