The Eisenhower lacrosse teams will play their first games of the season Saturday with the same determination in their eyes, but this time, they won't be just playing for the sheer glory of a win.
"The season definitely has more behind it because we're actually playing for more than just a trophy," said one of three team captains, Tony Giacona.
The varsity team has dedicated the entire season to goalie Ethan Hines' sister, Cassie Hines, who recently lost her 4-year battle with cancer.
Cassie Hines was a student at Eisenhower High School when she was diagnosed with an extremely rare form of kidney cancer. She died March 1, 2012, at the age of 21.
"Ethan is a close friend of ours and we know how hurt his family is and we thought it would be the right thing to do," said team captain, Chris Perry.
The Hines family has been very public about their heartbreaking journey, which has inspired most of the players to be courageous.
"I feel like this is a great experience for the whole team, and teaches us strength and togetherness," team captain Jake Zott told Patch.
The Hines family has donated Team Cassie shirts with the phrase "In honor of Cassie, we will fight our battles with strength and courage" written on the back, and green Strength for Cassie rubber bracelets.
The team wore the T-shirts for their last practice before taking on De La Salle High School at Swinehart Field March 24.
"Ike lacrosse has never beaten De La Salle the first time around ever, but this year, we have a lot of talent so it would be the year-if any," Zott said.
All three captains are 2011 All-State honorees, and the team welcomed back seniors Chris Baubie, Mike Meshinski, Robert Milbrand, Jacob Schmidt and Aaron Schneider.
Other returning varsity players are sophomores Charlie Hayes, Carter Johnston, Shane Pettke and Alex Schneider.
"It's going to be a fantastic year," said Coach Brian Rice. "We've got a lot of guys returning and we have some sophomores who started last year."
The team is also coached by Mark Fortune, who came up with the idea to announce at every game that the season is being played in memory of Cassie Hines.
If you have any great action shots of the Eisenhower Lacrosse team throughout the season, upload them to .
For a season schedule, click here.