The 2012 season is here and we wanted to work closely with college programs to bring a part of the excitement to you. Throughout the 2012 season we will highlight lacrosse programs on our space for all of our readers to follow. Player blogs serve as a unique outlet for programs to showcase their season as it develops, plus highlight everything they have to offer a student-athlete. In contrast, families and fans get a glimpse into the program’s athletic and academic regimen.
Jr. – #22 – Midfield
Excitement has come naturally to the Lehigh lacrosse program as of late. As I mentioned last week, I’ve never seen the kind of energy and enthusiasm from our team that I do now. Guys are learning first hand that winning, unlike losing, is easy to handle, and excitement about Lehigh lacrosse, in turn, continues to compound. With Patriot League play looming and all of this season’s goals in front of us, the team went into Saturday’s Army game as fired up as ever.
On Friday night, our players and coaching staff met up at the Gander Room to watch the men’s basketball team face the Duke Blue Devils in the second round of the NCAA tournament. As everyone knows, the team pulled off a huge upset, helping introduce the rest of the country to Lehigh Athletics. Everyone on campus celebrated after the win: signs of school spirit like none of us have ever seen before. I received more text messages after that game than I did after our squad knocked off UNC…I guess Lehigh lacrosse isn’t quite as recognized yet. Either way, it was awesome to see that kind of pride on campus. As we laid low resting up for our own game, my teammates and I contemplated what we would have to accomplish in order to get the campus to celebrate on that scale. Hopefully in May we’ll have the chance to find out (and participate).
All of these exultant considerations aside, though, this weekend’s game inevitably reminded everyone of the Tuesday last year when we played the Black Knights. Before that game, the team and hundreds of others attended the funeral to commemorate the life of Dan Carr Sr., father of junior Dan Carr, who had tragically passed away that month. Mr. Carr was, and remains, as cherished a member of our program as any coach, player, or administrator. Those who had the privilege of meeting him will testify to his unique knack for touching the lives of others, for caring about others’ well being more than his own. Unfortunately, on that day last year, we weren’t able to beat Army for him. This year, however, we did. That win and every win we have this season go out to you, DPC… an inspirational husband, father, friend, and role model forever in our hearts.
On Saturday morning, our team’s only goal was to go 1-0 on the day. By Saturday afternoon, that goal had been accomplished. In a game presenting a tremendous amount of adversity, leadership was unquestionably the deciding factor. In years prior, our team nearly always came out on the losing end of close games. Whether the cause was a lack of experience, lack of confidence, or merely a lack of talent, losing the close ones almost became an expectation for our team. The 7-6 victory this weekend, though, demonstrated that those issues appear to finally be corrected. The captains and other seniors continue to be the backbone of our team, and they’ve never played a bigger role in holding us together than they did on Saturday. After the game, everyone relaxed outside together, enjoyed St. Patrick’s Day, and celebrated the successful start to our Patriot League season.
On Sunday, we stuck to our usual agenda and watched the film from the Army game. Monday was all about Penn State…and no one would have preferred a different team as the final non-league opponent on our schedule. Last year, they dealt us a heartbreaking loss just seconds into overtime after coming back in the final minutes of regulation. That outcome left a bad taste in our mouths all the way up until now. Not surprisingly, everyone was vindictive, fired up, and determined to “take State” this time around.
On Monday, we gathered before practice to watch film on the Nittany Lions and go over the scouting report on their personnel. Both programs know each other well; a lot of the players went to high school or played summer ball together, and in light of last year’s game ending the way it did, it’s safe to say there’s a mutual animosity between the two groups. In practice, Coach Callahan led the defense through rehearsals for each of their offensive sets, Coach Comp prepared the shooters for Austin Kaut, and Coach Ese (Coach Cassese’s father) called draws for Butt and me.
After the long trip to Happy Valley, we suited up for the contest and took the field. At this point, I have to give a shout out to Penn State for having the best sound system in the country…if Kyle Stiefel had his way, the pregame would have turned into an all out rave. We got off to a slow start and went down 2-0 in the first quarter, but managed to stay composed and stand up to adversity yet again. Matt Poillon’s probably tired of reading about himself in this blog by now (if he even can, in fact, read this blog), but I really can’t say enough about how well the #1 freshman in the country continues to play. The defense in front of him had another strong showing…Derek “8” Bogorowski played especially well considering that he spent most of the game gazing into the crowd looking for the Theta section. Michael “Mikey Nugs” Noone set a program record with 8 winning edges, picking off multiple passes and shutting down his former teammate Jack Forster…neither Jack nor Ron had much to say after the game. Brian Hess and I continue to search for our mojos.
On the ride back to Bethlehem, Shawshank Redemption was the movie of choice but not everyone watched. Paul Baxter Lanius spent the trip researching the I-banking industry and airfare to South Africa. Dylan O’Shaughnessy texted his best friend Lauren the whole time while trying to think of clever pillow talk conversation points…he should have just consulted Schmacka, the veteran pillow talk professional. Dana Frye definitely wasn’t texting anyone, though (he’s never guilty). Oh, and Adam Sands was, of course, chillin.
With Penn State behind us, Patriot League opponents are all we have left. The time for #ringchasing is now, and it starts with Holy Cross on Saturday. Unlike excitement, respect is something that has always been hard to come by for the Lehigh lacrosse program. Coach Cassese put it best in the locker room after the Penn State game: “The trophy we all want is in front of us now, and with the way you guys have been playing, I’m starting to think you might want two.” Wherever this season ends up taking us, I’ve never been more proud to be a Lehigh lacrosse player.