Senior Andrew Kosiak just started club lacrosse in eighth grade when he found out that Riverside-Brookfield High School was starting a boys club team upon his entering high school.
The new program quickly made its mark.
“I feel like one of our greatest moments, freshman year. We went into double overtime with Hinsdale Central [junior varsity],” Kosiak said. “It really felt like we were all together. We still lost but it was still one of the best games we ever played for sure. We played our hearts out.”
This season, the Bulldogs are playing a full varsity schedule and competing in the IHSA postseason for the first time.
Their varsity and JV levels have a combined 39 players. Previously, there was one level that played JV opponents or the varsity of smaller programs.
“It’s certainly been a bigger change to varsity. It opens your eyes,” RBHS senior Wyatt Dosek said. “We’ve got to bring more energy to the field, clean up our passing. We can’t make those little mistakes because they’re going to take advantage of that.”
The Bulldogs (3-10) have beaten Immaculate Conception, Taft and, the latest, Northside Prep on Senior Night on April 25. They have two one-goal losses.
“Maybe the record doesn’t reflect it, but the kids out there are absolute competitors,” said first-year RBHS coach Joe Urbanski. “No matter if it’s a team that has 4,000 (students) versus our 1,600 and an experienced lacrosse program, they don’t flinch.”
Eight of the 13 seniors are four-year members — team captains Dosek, Kosiak, Matt Laube, Anthony Perry and Gabe Vazquez along with Brian Gorski, Benjamin Mooney and Jesus Nevarez.
The seniors hope their lasting legacy is the camaraderie they’ve developed. It’s among the reasons Urbanski has the varsity and JV practice together.
“I really just hope everyone keeps that sense of family we have,” Kosiak said. “Our team isn’t just on the field. It’s off the field.”
The 2019 seniors set the tone. Dosek had played club lacrosse since grade school in Western Springs and then with Tru Lacrosse. Kosiak is among several Bulldogs who played club with the Berwyn Bombers.
The 2019 team was a respectable 7-7 but with only 13 or 14 players. Boys lacrosse teams field 10 players.
“Getting breaks, you just never got those. It was always running,” Kosiak recalled. “I was a starter mostly because we didn’t have enough people. I really love this sport so I would just practice all of the time and I got way better. It feels good to be a trailblazer.”
Like other sports, it’s meant sacrifices such as 5:30 a.m. practices. Unlike other sports, it’s meant advertising to bolster the roster.
“We got the word out. We brought people in and said if you like playing football, you’re probably going to enjoy this,” Dosek said. “Not the easiest thing. I would try to get my friends out and they’d try to get another person out.”
Junior Drew Swiatek joined as a freshman with no lacrosse experience. He was encouraged by older brother and fellow football player Luke, a 2021 graduate who played with that first team.
“It was good because it was a new program and new to me, too. And a lot of the other guys never played before so we’re all in the same spot,” Swiatek said. “I didn’t realize it was going to be as fun as it was and it’s good exercise, gets you active. I really like it now.”