February 3, 2023 | SPORTS | By Michael Braithwaite | Photo: The Catalyst Archives
The Colorado College men’s lacrosse team came into the 2022 season looking to make an impact, not only in the Heartland Collegiate Lacrosse Conference, but also in the NCAA Tournament. Coming off an Elite Eight appearance and touting a new head coach, the Tigers hoped to build on the previous years’ success and compete for the Division III title.
However, the season did not pan out as planned. Newly introduced head coach Mike Horowitz struggled to implement his system on the fly and starting goaltender Ben Anastos ‘24 suffered a wrist injury that sidelined him for the second half of the season.
“We had like no time with [Horowitz], and then the season started right away,” said Anastos. “It was kind of frantic.”
Despite the setbacks, CC was still able to make it to the NCAA tournament and fended off No. 9 Bowdoin College for the first two quarters of their first round matchup. However, the Polar Bears pulled away in the third quarter and did not look back, sending the Tigers home with a 23-8 loss.
Despite that early NCAA exit, the team’s morale and excitement remains just as high coming into the 2023 season as it was last year. With a full offseason to completely implement Horowitz’s scheme and a new crop of talented first-years, CC is again looking to do some damage in the NCAA tournament.
“We have a lot of very good first-years and second years that are really stepping up and taking a role in the team,” said captain Dylan Wells ‘23. “We’re going in as a much more competitive team, we’re much more mature as opposed to last year and I think we’re ready in terms of size and capability to take on some of the storied, longstanding national teams on our schedule.”
The NCAA schedulers have favored the Tigers more so this season than in recent memory, with the team having far more home matchups than away ones. All but three of CC’s regular season games are at home, a welcome change for the team after the seemingly endless travelling they dealt with last season.
“A couple schools didn’t want to come to us [last season] because of COVID-19, masks, and all that stuff,” said Anastos. “We had to fly out to the east coast a lot — we traveled like seven times.”
A major improvement that the Tigers have made over the course of the offseason has been their play in transition. This improvement has been largely the result of having a more technically-focused young head coach in Horowitz, and has the players excited to get on the field.
“We’re really quick on the fly,” said Wells. “We’re really doing and focusing on what we’re best at, and we’re gonna use that to win games.”
The Tigers’ first two games of the season will take place on Saturday, Feb. 11 on Washburn Field against Colorado State University and the University of Colorado, Boulder. The following week, they’ll host Colorado Mesa University.
“[Mesa’s] kind of beat us the last two years — the game went to [overtime] my freshman year and then we went there my sophomore year and lost by three goals,” said Anastos. “This year we’re ready to beat them.”