FREDERICK, Md.–The Hood College men’s lacrosse team will be playing an International fixture against Japanese side Keio University on Friday, Sept. 28 at 3 p.m. at Thomas Athletic Field. It is believed to be the first time in school history that Hood will be playing against an international school in any sport.
One of the main proponents for this game happening was due to the efforts of Hood head athletic trainer Akira Kondo. Kondo, who is originally from Japan, knew of Keio’s tour to the United States a few years back in 2006 when they were playing right up the road at Mt. St. Mary’s University. Ever since that event, Kondo has hoped that Keio would come back to the United States and be able to take on the Blazers.
“Having this game has been one of my dreams since being at Hood College,” said Kondo. “In 2006 our men’s lacrosse team was a very new and young program so it was not the right time to have the game, but now we have witnessed the tremendous growth of the men’s lacrosse team and it should be a good contest with one of the best teams in my homeland.”
Keio University is set to arrive on Sept. 19 in Baltimore and will then proceed to play eight games in nine days. Hood will be the last team for Keio to play before it departs to go home on Sept. 29.
The competition that Keio is set to face ranges from Division I powerhouses Georgetown University and Towson University to smaller Division III schools like Hood.
“Having Hood in the same breath as some of these other top Division I schools that Keio is playing is very exciting,” said Hood head men’s lacrosse coach Jeremy Mattoon.
Keio University will bring plenty of challenges for the Blazers when the teams face-off. Lacrosse seems to be very similar to other sports in the far east where the players are all very quick, fast and technically skilled. Mattoon made it very clear when he said, “The international game is much faster than in the United States. There are no horns, the speed of the game is much quicker, and your decision making needs to be precise.”
Mattoon praised Keio as a “Division I caliber team” and one of his main goals entering this game is to see his side play faster. “We as a team want to play fast and in this game we have to,” Mattoon said.
Senior midfielder Adam Patterson also recognizes that playing Keio is an exciting opportunity. When asked how playing this game will help the team moving forward, Patterson said, “Keio is a fantastic lacrosse team. Not only is there excitement about playing a solid team like Keio, but this is also an opportunity to represent the United States on the athletic spectrum as well as a cultural spectrum. As a team, this game is crucial for us as winning the scrimmage will prove where our team stands and is a fantastic way to put our name out into the lacrosse world. It is an honor and very rare opportunity to play a team of this caliber.”
It is pretty certain that this lacrosse game will be distinct and different from any lacrosse game that has been played by Hood up to this point. It is a very unique opportunity for the Blazers as they will get to test themselves against not just a good team, but a team that plays a different kind of game entirely. It should be very interesting to see how Hood adjusts to the playing style of Keio, and on the opposite side, how Hood’s influence on the game will have an effect on the Japanese side.
This is a great first step for Hood College to broaden its horizons in the international playing field and Kondo agrees. “I hope our student-athletes have a great experience from this day and I hope this game will be the start of many more international games with all the other Hood sports teams in the near future,” said Kondo.
Coach Mattoon concluded by saying, “Having coached and played abroad, this opportunity is a super exciting day for Hood lacrosse and Hood athletics as a whole.”