After a two week preseason and two early wins, the men’s lacrosse season intensifies as the squad welcomes 20 freshmen to make up a team of 42.
The team had fall practices and worked with trainer Kevin Cronan in the offseason, so integrating freshman hasn’t been difficult. The team scrimmaged both Air Force and Adams State University over fifth block break, and even though they suffered a loss to the DI Air Force, freshmen players gained experience.
“We have so many young guys on our team. They’re all awesome, on and off the field, but it was different. [For] a lot of them it was their first time even playing against a college team, and especially Air Force, which is pretty intimidating,” junior defenseman Scott Prior said.
Coming out of training and into their first weekend of games against Greensboro and Guilford, CC came out on top with two wins. The contest with Greensboro ended in double overtime. Freshman goalie Chase Murphy logged 16 saves in his collegiate debut against Greensboro, and the man down unit surrendered only one goal in ten opportunities. Though taking both contests, the Tigers struggled with some inconsistent play. Up 6-0 in the Guilford game, CC’s play became more individualistic as they strayed from their set offenses.
“Again showing our youth, we had [Guilford] 6-0 after the first quarter, but everyone smelled the blood in the water, wanted to get a goal themselves, so [we] strayed from the game plan,” Prior said.
“We made up for our lack of execution with effort. We had too many stick work errors on offense and communication breakdowns on defense, but we are playing very hard and fast,” Head Coach Sean Woods said.
The freshmen are picking up the offense and defense well by learning plays quickly. According to Prior, many of them come from competitive high school teams, such as Gilman and Kent-Denver, so they are used to learning plays quickly.
“I like the way that a lot of our freshmen play. There’s freshmen on the man up unit, which runs all sorts of precise plays, and also on man down which is really intricate.” senior defenseman Nate Pearson said.
Being such a young team, players will need to focus most on maintaining intensity in practice to become more consistent for top tier teams like Salisbury and Dickinson. Because they have such a deep, even team, the Tigers will rely on moving the ball around and working as a unit to beat star-studded teams like Salisbury. With freshmen involved so much in play, the barrier between returners and freshmen is minimal, if not already gone.
“We started six freshmen this weekend and nine freshmen played good minutes so they aren’t just adjusting, they are contributing. They will get better and better as the season goes
on and they get more game experience,” Woods said.
“It’s been good, the guys on team are real nice guys, and they’ve been very welcoming to me. It’s been real easy to get adjusted,” freshman Chase Murphy said. There are new faster rules of play this season, and as a result the team will need to make adjustments in order to become set faster, according to Pearson. Fewer whistles will mean more continuous play, giving advantage to teams with more endurance. Salisbury and Dickinson will prove great competition for CC over spring break.
“[Spring break is] going to be a crazy week. I’m really excited for it. We haven’t had a stretch like that in the regular season since I’ve been here,” Pearson said.
As CC prepares to match up against defending national champions Salisbury, the team will need to play consistently. If they play as a unit and move the ball around like they showed in the first quarter against Guilford, the men should be able to compete against top tier teams.
“We will need to play a very clean, mistake free game to beat teams of their caliber [Salisbury and Guilford]. We will need to focus more on the process than the results which I believe hurt us this past weekend at times,” Woods said. The men’s lacrosse team has their first home game on the new turf on March 2, against Colorado Mesa University.