Without a conference to call home, 35 athletes and three coaches plan to adapt, improve and find a ring. Last season, the University of Indianapolis men’s lacrosse team had a winning season in its first go around, but did not walk away with a conference title or a NCAA Tournament bid, and that was not satisfying, according to Head Men’s Lacrosse Coach Greg Stocks.
“Our biggest thing [this season] is improvement,” he said. “We did have a very good first year, but in essence, we didn’t get anything. We didn’t win a conference title. We didn’t make the NCAA Tournament. We want to build off of what we built as a foundation and start making some of those other goals.”
Unfortunately, we don’t have a conference this year to go for that [conference title], but the NCAA is something that I think is realistic for this team. A lot of it will be learning off of our first year mistakes and correcting those this year to beat some of those teams that I think we could have or should have last year.”
Last season, the team had the luxury of being a first-year program, according to Stocks, so heading into games the opposing teams did not know what to expect; this season will be different, according to sophomore attack Parker Kump. He believes that this season a few schools have their names circled, and they have to come ready to play.
“I don’t think anybody is going to be satisfied until we get a nice ring on our finger, but I also think our goal is just coming into every game realizing that it’s an NCAA game,” Kump said. “If we don’t show up, any one of these teams on our schedule could beat us. If we don’t show up, then we’ll dig a hole for ourselves, and it will be a battle. But if we do show up I think we’ll be really successful. So that’s the main goal of mine, just showing up ready to play, and the whole team ready to play.”
On the scoring side, the Greyhounds topped their opponents in all seven categories. More specifically, the Hounds had 138 goals to their competitor’s 119, while outshooting their opponents by 51 shots. Kump recorded a team-high 34 goals on the season with the next player holding 18 goals. Starting in goal for the Greyhounds last season was sophomore Jarod Kimble, who recorded a .531 save percentage through 14 games. Sophomore midfield Robert Berardi led the team with 47 ground balls, and sophomore defender Max Gerhardt tallied 42.
According to Stocks, the team has built a strong foundation leading up to its second season and is looking to build from that and implement some new things.
“Some of the improvements we are looking to make are on the offensive end,” Stocks said. “We’ve added some new players and had some kids step up. We’re looking to score more goals. A lot of the games [last season] we lost were games we didn’t put in a lot of goals, so that’s something as a team we need to improve on, and a lot of it is starting from the backend and moving forward through clearing and what not, but we need to step it up on the offensive end.”
The Hounds have added 13 new players to the roster between freshmen and transfers, three of whom were midyear transfers. According to Stocks, the new additions to the team are going to be impact players. Besides adding new players, the team also named Austin Grimes assistant coach. According to the UIndy Athletics website, Grimes was an assistant coach at his alma mater, Wheeling Jesuit College, for three years and then moved on to Oberlin College and spent the 2016 season as its defensive coordinator.
Stocks announced the addition of Grimes in January, and since then, he has been learning how the Hounds bark.
“We were pretty successful on the defensive end last year,” Stocks said. “He is finding out pretty quickly how talented we are back there and kind of working in a few of his own things that he likes to do, on top of what we’ve already done. He’s done a really good job being able to tweak the man-down unit and some of our man-to-man stuff.”
Between blending in new players and a new coach, Kump has noted that the comradery has grown stronger, on and off the field.
“I think our chemistry has really built, and leadership has really stepped up,” Kump said. “We do have captains, but I think we’re all taking leadership roles and looking out for each other. Off the field, our whole team hangs out. There’s no really divided groups. Every weekend we go to dinner together and just hang out. I think our chemistry has built a lot, so I think that will lead to success on the field.”
On Friday, Feb. 17, the Greyhounds took on regional opponent Rockhurst University. The Hounds held the Hawks to six goals. In Rockhurst’s first two games of the season, it scored 27 goals to its opponents 18; the Hounds held the Hawks to six goals in the loss.
In the 6-5 game, Kump led the team in scoring and notched two goals. Joining Kump on the scoreboard was sophomore attack Matthew Johnson, freshman attack Parker Johnson and junior midfield Sam Horning.
Rockhurst outnumbered the Hounds on stats. The Hawks scooped up 27 ground balls to the Greyhounds’ 16 and won 27 of 43 faceoffs.
On Sunday, Feb. 26, the Greyhounds take on Rollins College at 12 p.m. for their second home game of the season. Last season, UIndy took a 9-7 loss to Rollins on the road.