By Beau Brockett Jr.
Last month, the Albion men’s lacrosse team was favored to win the 2017 MIAA title, according to a preseason poll conducted by all MIAA coaches. If predictions are true, Albion would secure a third straight season as MIAA champions. The team, however, has their sights set higher.
“It’s not really a goal, it’s more of a standard at this point,” said defenseman Matt Lowes, a captain for the team.
Instead, said Lowes, the team is looking beyond conference games and into the postseason for a Sweet 16 spot in the NCAA Tournament.
According to head coach Jake DeCola, there was almost too much of a focus on the conference championship last season. Many players forgot what came after.
“It takes some getting used to that everyone else goes home and that’s when your real season starts,” said DeCola, who has led the team since its inception in 2010.
To prepare for the national tournament, DeCola is placing the team’s goals in day-to-day actions, such as positivity, energy and the ability to reset themselves during practices and games. One of the team’s most prominent areas of focus is to play with what the players call “safeties-off”: taking good risks and playing without fear.
Lowes also placed an emphasis on getting the team to play with an intensity reflective of the energy they had postseason last year right from the start. The freshmen have already taken to it. As a captain, Lowes also wants to ensure that everyone brings a positive attitude and a drive to get a lot done every practice.
To further prepare his players for a potential national run, DeCola has intentionally created an challenging pre-conference schedule, playing teams both regionally and nationally ranked. During spring break, for instance, the team traveled to Tennessee to play Denison University and Sewanee: The University of the South. Both teams have made the NCAA Tournament and have been top-20 squads in recent years. The Brits lost both games.
Having defeated Otterbein University this past Saturday in their first home game on the newly constructed Davis Athletic Complex, men’s lacrosse is 3-2 so far this season. With a stellar MIAA record of 17-1 at the Sprankle-Sprandel Stadium ad a 26-14 record overall, they will attempt to keep their winning tradition alive on the new field as they take on John Carroll University today at 6 pm.
“We’ve got two championships in the old facility and an incredible winning tradition. Never lost a conference game [since 2013] in that facility,” said DeCola. “So those are some of the traditions we want to bring forward.”
For a full schedule of the men’s lacrosse team, visit gobrits.com.
Photo by Beau Brockett Jr.