May 7, 2021 | SPORTS | By Dylan Carey | Photo by Anil Jergens
This year has been one the most successful seasons ever for Colorado College’s men’s lacrosse team. At the beginning of the year there was uncertainty about whether the team would even have a season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but now the team is on track to make the NCAA tournament.
The Tigers boast an impressive record of 11-3 overall and 4-0 in conference play. On Sunday, May 2, the team secured the SCAC tournament title with a 31-11 win over Southwestern University.
Their losses this season came in difficult games against two of the top five Division III teams and a Division II team.
Perhaps the most impressive win of the season was an overtime win against fifth-ranked Christopher Newport University. The game winning goal was scored by Elliot Nelson ’22 with about a minute and a half left in overtime. Head coach Sean Woods described the goal as “one of the prettiest game winners I’ve ever seen.”
The men’s lacrosse team has been incredibly successful this year, even though the regular season saw an unusual end because of the pandemic.
“This year has been unusual. Even as a freshman without another perspective from previous seasons, I know that our team faces challenges that usually do not exist,” Stephen Ruffennach ’24 said. “The team has made sacrifices to adapt to the ‘suckiness’ of COVID. We have given up our locker room, large group lifts, and followed all school rules to ensure that we get the chance to play.”
Coach Woods indicated that the team has had extra drive to be successful due to their gratitude about having a season.
“This year our team is more grateful than ever to just be playing and practicing lacrosse. We are very appreciative that Lesley and the rest of the college leadership stayed committed to having varsity athletic seasons,” Woods said. “When our players show up to practice, there is an extra obligation to be great because we all know how fortunate we are to be playing in the middle of a pandemic.”
Woods also commented on some of the challenges the team has faced this season.
“The biggest challenge our players have endured is avoiding the daily temptation of gathering with multiple households or in groups bigger than 10. They are sacrificing a lot of their social life and ‘the college experience’ by remaining disciplined and adhering to all the COVID restrictions,” he said.
Woods added that he has taken steps to help his players deal with this struggle.
“We talk weekly about how hard it is and how we feel isolated at times, but we also talk weekly about why we are sacrificing so much. Our team culture and chemistry are strong, and we know we need to continue to make those social sacrifices if we want to accomplish our goal of making the NCAA tournament and trying to win it,” Woods said.
The Tigers’ commitment to their team has paid off so far.
“We were ranked in the top 10 for the first time ever, and we have been nationally ranked in all three polls for most of the season,” Woods said. “However, we need to finish strong a make an NCAA playoff run for our guys to deem it truly successful.”
Tactically, Woods attributes the team’s recent success to a couple improvements. He noted that the team’s “transition game” has improved most since last season.
“We play very fast and have great scorers at the attack position,” Woods said of the advancement. “We also have a defense that clears the ball quickly and midfielders that are very athletic. This combination makes us very dangerous in transition.”
The Division III lacrosse tournament is approaching, and the Tigers hope to make the cut. The NCAA tournament consists of 31 teams playing in a single elimination tournament. Be on the lookout for news on whether the CC men’s lacrosse team will be competing!