Lacrosse: Naperville North's Lubrant hoping to flourish in senior season
Nearly four years removed from scoring arguably the two biggest goals in Naperville North boys lacrosse history, Jacob Lubrant doesn't remember the scoring as much as the trust.
In an 11-10 IHSA supersectional victory over South Elgin back in 2018, Lubrant -- then a freshman -- scored the goal that sent the game into overtime. Then, for good measure, he scored the game-winner moments later, propelling the Huskies to state, where they finished fourth.
All this happened after he dropped a pass about 2 minutes before the tying goal, a play that supremely frustrated him.
"I remember how it unfolded and played out and I remember it working," said Lubrant, now a senior attackman who is committed to playing collegiate lacrosse at the University of Hartford.
"It was the trust and how (the coaches) believed in me. It boosted my confidence and made me feel better about making a mistake but keeping my head up high."
Lubrant has come a long way since his freshman year. He's a two-time captain and a top-5 leading scorer the last two seasons, according to coach Kevin Benages.
"He brings great leadership," Benages said. "He just brings great tenacity, just toughness. He brings a lot of skill because he's been around the game for a really long time, since third grade. He's got a high IQ."
Lubrant credits former teammates Scott Allgood and Sean Sullivan as mentors his freshman year, helping him overcome the jitters of varsity play. For that reason, his main goal his senior season is "to leave this program in a better spot than what I was given it." He'll have a lot of help, as Benages carries 33 players on varsity.
On-field goals will be pretty cut-and-dried. The Huskies haven't lost at home since Lubrant's sophomore year, so maintaining that streak will be paramount, according to Benages. Winning the tough DuPage Valley Conference is the other.
So might there be a final trip to state for Lubrant, if the sport is downgraded to medium risk and the IHSA elects to implement a state series? Right now boys lacrosse is considered high risk and play will conclude at the sectional level.
Remembering O'Brien at ICCP:
Last June, IC Catholic Prep coach Tom O'Brien passed away at age 49. O'Brien not only started the ICCP boys lacrosse program, he also co-founded Elmhurst Lacrosse in 2010. Suffice to say he had a huge impact on the sport at not only the school but the village.
Though he played his high school lacrosse in Summit, N.J., and collegiately at Hamilton College in upstate New York, new coach Alex Schluter is well aware of O'Brien's impact.
"We're playing this year with OB stickers on the back of our helmets," said Schluter. "We're honoring him when we take the field each time."
The Knights, who open their season at home against Marmion Thursday, will have a young team this campaign, but there's plenty of talent, much of which was cultivated under O'Brien, like the Karsten brothers.
"I've been going to his camps since I was little, and he pretty much influenced my whole lacrosse career," said sophomore midfielder Anthony Karsten. "He taught me how to play."
A testament to O'Brien was the fact that when the call went out to raise funds for the ICCP program, it took no time to raise enough to purchase new helmets, practice uniforms and game uniforms. They'll have the look and the community feel, another advantage O'Brien honed.
"We're all close and friends and neighbors," freshman midfielder Matthew Karsten said. His twin, Michael added, "We have a lot of new lacrosse players and I'm super-excited."
Ciufo back at Wheaton United:
Prior to the lost 2020 COVID-19 campaign, Wheaton United coach Paul Ciufo was going to step down due to a day job change, among other factors. But he's back as co-head coach with Sarah Burdeen. Ciufo handles the on-field coaching while Burdeen takes care of the administrative chores.
Ciufo has plenty of talent to work with, starting with senior midfielder Tate Stokesberry, who is committed to Arizona State.
"She's a phenomenal player, with a great love of the game," Ciufo said. "She's grown from a quiet freshman to a team leader."
Stokesberry said her goals this season are to push herself with new skills on the field, but more importantly, help shape the younger players on the team.
"He's super-helpful to me," Stokesberry said of Ciufo. "He helps me implement what I learn in club lacrosse, and helps practice and games flow smoothly."
Stokesberry will be joined by teammates Meghan Ginty, a junior defender, and Augie Claridge, a sophomore attack-midfielder, to give United strength on both ends of the field.