Last week, Buffalo Bandit players Josh Byrne and Chase Fraser visited the Eden girls lacrosse team in preparation for their game against rival Gowanda. To help grow the game in the greater Buffalo area, Bandits players have been attending practices of local teams, and the featured school received discounted ticket prices to attend a Bandits game this season. The program is presented by Intense Milk.
“We got so much accomplished, and even though I have nearly 30 years of experience, getting another set of eyes to diagnose things that we could get better at was extremely impactful,” Eden coach Phil Archibald said.
Eden was selected by the Bandits organization as its Western NY Team of the Week. Byrne and Fraser assisted in a practice session by diagnosing aspects of the team’s game that it could improve upon and offering guidance on how to get better.
“Josh and Chase are natural born leaders,” Archibald said. “Due to their level of knowledge about the game, they could pinpoint some of our weaknesses after the first drill of the session.”
Archibald has coached the Raiders for over a decade and has made the program a team to reckon with during his tenure. Archibald went to nearby Hamburg High School before playing collegiately at Stony Brook University.
Following the end of his playing career, Archibald became an assistant coach for the boys lacrosse team under his older brother, Chris. After a few seasons, a position opened up for Phil to take the reins of the girls program.
Eden hasn’t just won multiple sectional titles, but they also have been successful in sending girls to play at the next level. Currently, there are multiple Eden alumni playing in the NCAA Division II and III ranks, including Gannon University and D’Youville College.
Two weeks ago, three Eden players signed their letter of intent to SUNY Fredonia and another to D’Youville. The team also has a player committed to Mercyhurst University.
“We are so thankful to have so much talent come into our program during their time here, and then it’s really special to see them continue to play after high school,” Archibald said. “That’s what it’s all about.”
Heading into their matchup with Gowanda, Eden has a 1-7 record, but it is not indicative of how they have played this year. Due to the limited number of schools that offer girls lacrosse, many of Eden’s opponents come from larger schools in Buffalo (Section VI) or Rochester (Section V).
With seven games remaining on their schedule before sectionals, Eden has a chance to run the table and finish with an above .500 record. The last time Eden squared off against Gowanda was in the Sectional Finals last season.
Eden will now play four games in five days, including games on back-to-back days heading into the playoffs. Archibald admittedly said that having two of the top players in the world like Byrne and Fraser at this crucial point in the season can only make them better.
“There’s no other sport where the top players just show up to a high school practice in their community,” Archibald said. “We are so thankful for the opportunity, and that is an experience that the girls will never forget.”