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.
Doug Calder #22
Sophomore – Midfield
As a senior in high school, looking at colleges and being recruited by coaches to play lacrosse at various programs all across the country, Occidental wasn’t on the list of schools I was considering. In fact, it was a late minute addition to the list and quickly rose to the #1 spot.
My history with our lacrosse team started earlier for me than it did for most freshman. Touring the school in the fall of my senior year of high school, I was patiently waiting in the admissions office for an interview with an admissions rep. While I was waiting, a friendly staff member came over and engaged me in a conversation. We talked about everything under the sun and it casually came up that I play lacrosse. This man seemed very surprised and happy to hear this. Little did I know, he was the current assistant coach of our team at the time. We began talking more and more about lacrosse programs we had played for in the past, as well as our personal accomplishments and accolades as players over our playing career.
Knowing I was interested in playing lacrosse in college, Ozzie called up one of his team captains to come meet me and show me around. Duncan Marks (#32), current senior defenseman, came and met me. He gave me an insiders tour of campus, showing me the ins and outs of things. We hung out for a few hours where we talked about school and lacrosse. I learned all about the program: the positive and negative aspects and the hopes and aspirations of this building program. At the end of my visit, when Duncan had to head off to class and I had to head off to tour the next college campus on my list, we exchanged phone numbers and vowed to keep in contact over the school year. This was the start of me joining our team.
Over the next couple of days, I thought about and reflected back on my visit at Occidental and the positive experience I had with then assistant coach Ozzie Barron and Duncan. I thought about how both of them were so helpful and outgoing and gladly took time out of their days to help make a positive impact on my experience on campus. Reflecting back on my visit, I knew I wanted to go to a college where I could be surrounded by people like these two men.
Over the course of that school year I chatted with Duncan here and there, slowly building a long distance friendship. Latter on that spring I made another visit to Oxy after I committed to come here. I bumped into Duncan on campus and he invited me to come throw around that afternoon with him and some teammates and come watch their home game the next day. I was unable to make their throw around session but went to the game the next day.
That Saturday my mom and I sat in the stadium and watched the entire game from start to finish – the only 2 fans at the second to last home game of their season. Watching this game, I began to understand the struggles of this young team building a program that Duncan had told me about in our past conversations. I knew that in the fall I would be joining the program and would be able to contribute in a positive way by bringing my talent, knowledge, and love of the game to the team. After the game, I went down on the field and met the other coaches and several of the players. I was immediately welcomed by them all, excited at the fact that they would have someone new playing with them next year.
Arriving on campus that fall, I had already made a few connections with members of the lacrosse program. Duncan helped me move into my room and get settled in on campus. That first weekend here, he took me out with him to meet and hang out with all his friends on the team. From there I hit the ground running and started training with and developing strong friendships with my new teammates. The strong chemistry we were building off the field began to directly correlate with our budding chemistry on the field. By the end of our season we were firing on all cylinders like this team had never seen before in the past.
My freshman year we had a handful of solid new players, as well as 2 new coaches. We came together and with each win everyone bought into what the coaches were preaching a little more, in turn leading us to a playoff appearance. With new coaches, new talent, and a new attitude, the program turned itself around 180 degrees my freshman year earning a record of 6-4 after going 1-12 the previous year.
Coming off a great season last year, both personally and overall as a team, I had high expectations for us coming into this season. Here we are, the end of week 4, first place in our conference with a 4-0 record. It has been a bit of a struggle to build our 4-0 record. With new players and new personnel, we have worked to build up our chemistry again and get everyone bought into our system and on the same page. At times, we show we are all on the same page, but other times we stray from this and start to fall apart.
We’ve had personnel issues as well this season with some guys having off the field things come up, forcing them to miss a game. We’ve had a few injuries we’ve had to deal with as a team too, including myself, when I separating my shoulder in week 2. However, faced with these set backs along the way, our team has stepped up to the plate and overcome the adversity. We are sitting at 4-0, not all of those wins have been pretty wins, but we worked hard to pull out those wins and deserve every one of those victories.
As a captain of our team this year, and coming off a season last year where I was one of 2 members of our program named to the Second Team All-Conference squad (the other being stand our goalkeeper TJ Kelly #14), it is very difficult to be sidelined with an injury and watch my team play. I want to be out there on the field playing with them and help our other captains lead them to our victories like I was able to do in our first 2 games of the season. However, like all athletes are forced to do at some point in their playing career, I’ve been forced to modify my game as best I can to still help my team. These past 2 weeks I’ve been working on getting players up to speed to fill my spot on the man up unit and take the face offs. I’ve also been working hand in hand with my coach to run and manage the sideline, in turn, taking some of the pressure off of him and allowing him to focus more on in game coaching. I’ve been forced into a role of being more of a leader off the field while my shoulder heals.
Our most recent victory came this Saturday at UC Irvine. Missing 2 of our starters for this game, everyone else knew they were going to have to step up to make up for their absence. We got off to a slow start trying to hit our stride. Irvine came out ready to play and was determined to give us a good run for our money. In addition, the refs were calling a tight game with all calls seeming to go in favor of Irvine. Getting no love from the refs and playing a determined Anteaters program, our squad had to dig deep to pull off this win. I was impressed with all the standout individual efforts by several players on our team.
Occidental was ahead the entire game, but couldn’t get more than a 2 goal cushion. A relatively low scoring game, this one shaped out to be a defensive battle. Freshman long stick middie Brandon D’Ewert (#20) was a menace on the face off wing and wreaked havoc in the box helping our defensive middies keep Irvine’s offense at bay. Junior defenseman Brian Cropper (#9) was playing sparingly because of a groin injury but made his presence known on man down situations while sophomore defensive captain Mark Abman (#30) and senior defenseman Duncan Marks (#32) shut down Irvine’s attack, limiting their dominant attack unit to only 2 goals. Offensively for the tigers, freshman attackman Jake Kahane (#50) and senior attackman captain Michael Berman (#11) led the offense, each netting 2 clutch goals and coming up big exactly when we needed them to. Our offense did a good job spreading the ball around having another 3 players put goals in the back of the net and recording 6 assisted goals. The Anteaters were battling back into the game late in the second half, but the Tiger’s offense clicked just in time to wrap up an 8-6 win.
Photo courtesy of Big Lens Photograph (http://www.hickingbotham.com).