Lassiter didn’t waste any time challenging itself for the 2013 season as it scheduled a game at Class AAAAA-A powerhouse Westminster to begin the year. The Wildcats won the 2010 state championship and reached the state semifinals in 2011 and 2012, so their pedigree of success was not in question.
Lassiter has been a force in the highest classification during the same time frame, so the only question was which of the two lacrosse powers was going to come away with the victory.
The final result was a narrow 6-5 Trojans win that set the stage for the rest of Lassiter’s season.
“Shutting teams out the best we could was the game plan for the most part,” said Lassiter defenseman Cash Carlson. “It all starts with our defense, just controlling the game, and if we were off, the team was off.”
Lassiter wasn’t off very much.
The Trojans’ defense, led by Carlson with goalkeeper Ryan Smith as the final line of protection, made shutting teams down almost look easy. Lassiter, which went 16-3 on the year and advanced to the quarterfinals of the Class AAAAAA state playoffs, posted three shutouts and gave up 10 or more goals only twice.
Opponents averaged only 5.4 goals per game against the Trojans, which was a good average for Carlson, who was named the 2013 Marietta Daily Journal/Cobb All-County Boys Lacrosse Player of the Year.
“I thought it was pretty cool,” said Carlson on receiving the honor. “I didn’t know until recently when my mom (Kathy Carlson) came downstairs and told me. It’s pretty cool.
“My mom said it’s rare for a defender to win something like this. I just played to the best of my ability and don’t think about the accolades that come with it.”
Carlson, a senior, was a key component of Lassiter’s stout defense. While the offense did its job by averaging 13.7 goals per contest, the Trojans defense did its part playing its relentless style of keep away and limiting quality scoring opportunities for opponents.
“Having two all-Americans in me and goalie Ryan Smith helps,” Carlson said.
A first-team all-state selection and all-American, Carlson collected 68 ground balls and caused 42 turnovers in assisting the defense to perform at its high level.
“I like to go out and get all over guys and not let them do anything,” he said. “That’s just my style of play. It kills me when somebody beats me, so I just learned over time and use that as strategy.”
Part of Carlson’s strategy included using his height to his advantage.
“I’m 6-5 and height definitely helps at my position,” he said. “My reach, my sight and how I can see where a guy is putting his stick, that all helps. My reach can get around him.”
Two of Lassiter’s three losses were against Area 2AAAAAA foes Milton and Walton. Along with Roswell, all four area teams won their first round state playoff games. Milton was one of the teams that scored in double figures against the Trojans, earning a 14-12 win early in the season. The only other time the defense gave up 10 or goals was Lassiter’s 13-12 state quarterfinal loss to eventual champion Centennial.
“Overall, we were probably one of the best teams to come out of Lassiter,” said Carlson, who has signed to play collegiately at 10-time Division III national champion Salisbury (Md.) University. “It’s messed up that we lost to Centennial, but they ended up winning the whole thing, so I guess that makes us look better.
“We had our ups and downs, but overall I was pleased with our season.”