Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Men's club lacrosse attracting campus attention

The campus showcased a full slate of spring sports on what was on one of the most beautiful days of the spring season last Saturday. Everyone from Davidson students to prospectives and their families were treated to the traditional cookout at the men's tennis match, the popcorn and ice cream at the baseball field and the bruising play of the men's lacrosse team. Wait a minute. We have a men's lacrosse team at Davidson?

For most of us, club sports at Davidson signify opportunities for participation rather than spectating, unless you have a significant other on the team. But our men's club lacrosse team has spent the last five years trying to change that.

Armed with the second-highest financial allotment of any Davidson club sport, men's lacrosse hits the turf with high-quality uniforms and equipment, and, as we saw on Saturday, some high-quality play.

The team handily defeated its conference rival Appalachian State by a score of 11-6. Led by its hard-hitting captains Morgan Koukopolous '08, John Hoke '07 and Ryan Robertson '08, the team opened up an early advantage and blew the game open in the third quarter. The victory came as rare domination of a Mountaineer team that usually pulls out close contests in the final minutes.

"We were able to keep them from making runs at us late in the game," Robertson said. "Our late-game goals were crucial in keeping them establishing any momentum."

Offensive pushes were not the only factors working against the Mountaineers. The Davidson team was backed by an army of supporters that continually ratcheted up the Wildcats' energy levels. The large crowd was certainly a rarity for any club lacrosse match in Davidson's B division of the SLEC.

"I'm sure that Appalachian did not expect so many rowdy Davidson students to be out there breathing down their necks," Hoke said. "That really gave us an edge."

The play of the day came halfway through the second half when Koukopolous leveled an Appalachian State player on a clean hit in the middle of the field. After forcing the ball loose, Koukopolous retrieved it, made a few nifty moves to get himself into position and then fiercely deposited the ball at the back of the net. The turf field's stands erupted, and the Appalachian team looked shocked. With the victory, the Wildcats positioned themselves well for a long run into the playoffs.

"We have really been coming together over the course of the last two weeks after starting somewhat slow," Hoke said. "With our renewed success and level of excitement, we are getting more people at practice, and the team's commitment level is rising."

The team's next league matchup will be on Friday when they travel to Elon to take on the Phoenix. With a win there, the Wildcats will be closer to the position that they occupied two years ago when they won their conference championship and were ranked eighth in the country.

Although much of the team's success can be attributed to the growing popularity of men's lacrosse in the south, teammembers point to coach Fuji Lozada's commitment as the major catalyst. A former lacrosse player, Lozada lends his expert authority to a club team that would otherwise be self-coached.

"He really loves the game and dedicates his free time to our team," Robertson said. "We are incredibly lucky to have him."

With an ever-increasing pool of former lacrosse players entering Davidson every year, the club men's lacrosse team hopes to continue to be successful and establish themselves as an integral piece of the Davidson sports culture. Judging by last Saturday's performance, there is no reason to believe that dream won't come true.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

owill the men's lacrosse team ever be an actual Division 1 team like the womens lacrosse team? If Davidson is a Division 1 school why can't the mens lacrosse team also be Division 1?