Q&A with Winter Springs (FL) Coach Steve Efland

On the heels of a state semifinals appearance in 2010, Steve Efland and the Winter Springs (FL) girls' lacrosse team are hoping to go one step further in 2011. With Efland at the helm and an experienced lineup back featuring D-I signee Amanda Guthrie, the Bears may have their best shot at dethroning perennial power Vero Beach and claiming the title. In this week's high school girls' lacrosse Q&A, Efland provides a prognosis for the upcoming campaign, reveals his most effective drill, and also gives his take on the growth of lacrosse in the Sunshine State.

Talk about your core coaching philosophies and how you implement them with your team?
"Everything we do here is positive. We are not screamers and we reward the kids when they do good things. We are cognizant that they are girls, but we make them work hard. We want them to love and enjoy the game, and they really seem to."

Winter Springs went to the state semifinals last year before falling to eventual state champ Vero Beach. What's the biggest difference between the 2010 and 2011 squads?
"This year, we lost Maggie Flatley, who had 103 assists for us in 2010. But we have four girls back who each scored 50 goals last year. The biggest difference is defense. We are faster on defense this year and more aggressive. We've spent a lot of time there this season and that's where our focus will remain."

Can you name a drill that you routinely use that the players really respond to?
"We love to do 3 v 2 drills. We have one called the Box of Pain, and it gets players on four corners and a 1 v 1 situation in the middle between a defender and attacker. It's a gladiator-type situation and the girls really like it. We also have a drill called Trail Mix. It's a taxing drill that simulates transition play with three defenders and three attackers and it forces the defenders to go across the field. We always try to make practices go at a fast pace and never do anything too long."

Who's the team to beat in Florida this season?
"Anyone would be a fool not to say Vero Beach. I believe the last time they lost to a Florida team was in 2007. As far as District 4, you have to respect Oviedo. They always play us tough. I think it will come down to the two of us."

Talk about the growth of Florida girls' lacrosse. How has it evolved in your mind?
"It has really exploded. I was the President of US Lacrosse (Orlando) up until two years ago, and saw it go from 30 teams to over 80 in a short period of time. Once the FHSAA took us on, it grew exponentially. It has really helped that local colleges are picking up lacrosse as well. The biggest problem is at the youth level and getting kids involved. It's really what's keeping the sport from really taking off, like the way it is in the Northeast. It starts with youth and coaching. The sport has grown tremendously, but not to the point where we can't keep up with it. It has come along so much further than even five years ago."

Fast forward to the end of the season. Where do you see Winter Springs?
"I fully expect that we should do better than last year. We don't have as much depth as last season, but we have a terrific starting 12. I expect we'll back in the final four again this year, and I'm hoping to see Vero Beach in the finals.

To contact staff writer Adam Warner, send an e-mail to adam@laxpower.com.


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