Coming off of historic seasons by both the University of Indianapolis Men’s and Women’s Lacrosse Teams, they both enter the 2022 Spring season primed to repeat with the women’s team ranked No. 2 in the country and the men ranked No. 8, according to UIndy Athletics. Last year, both teams fell in the quarterfinal of the NCAA Division II Championship tournament, the men, lead by Head Coach Greg Stocks, to No. 5 Wingate University off a final seconds goal and the women to eventual champion and GLVC rival Lindenwood University, according to UIndy Athletics. Head Women’s Lacrosse Coach James Delaney said there is a lot of younger talent ready to take that next step.
“This team is super talented, this team has a lot of depth, this team has a lot of young players with the capability of stepping up after arguably our best fall ever,” Delaney said. “I still feel like there’s a ton that we can uncover in ourselves both collectively and individually in the players. Tons of excitement and just starting at such a high level.”
The previous year the women’s team ended the year with the No. 1 ranked defense only giving up 5.31 goals a game across their 16 game season, according to NCAA.com. Delaney said the defense has the possibility of being even better this season with the addition of transfers like graduate student defense Mekayla Montgomery, who enters the season with two years of eligibility left. He said her ability in the clearing game and the draw circle, along with the development of younger players is going to take the Greyhound defense to another level.
On the men’s side, Assistant Coach Austin Grimes said this is the healthiest the team has ever been heading into their first game. That health is going to be crucial as they open the year with the No. 2 team in the country, Lenoir-Rhyne University, according to UIndy Athletics. Grimes said he and his team want to play the best of the best and starting with Lenoir-Rhyne is going to be a good test for the team.
“There’s no film on either of us teams. We both have lost some guys, we both got some guys,” Grimes said. “ … I think we’re feeling good about it. I think we match up well, it’s just kind of a different style that they play that we’re kind of used to, but playing Wingate last year in the quarterfinals definitely showed us kind of what style they play down there.”
Similar to the women’s team, Grimes said they had a very young team last year with many freshmen starters and he expects them to continue to express themselves on the field vocally and help lead this team. He said players like sophomore defense Dougie Crawford and sophomore attack Wyatt Auyer are two players specifically that can break out of their shell. Crawford has already established himself this year, being named a USA Lacrosse Magazine’s Division II Men’s Preseason All-American alongside senior midfielder Kyle Basch and senior attack Drew Billig. Crawford said the selection gives him confidence heading into the year.
“Especially since I was a little bit injured last year, and now I’m coming in healthy, I’m able to actually show my full ability, full strength and start all season,” Crawford said. “From that, I have high confidence going into the season and I can help other players on my team, try to develop them and give them some cues of how to improve and basically create a whole defense for us.”
Crawford said this team’s biggest strength is on the defensive end with the athleticism and experience of that end of the field being very high. He said that while the defense is strong, he thinks the team has room to grow in the middle of the field.
The men’s team was not the only team to receive pre-season honors, with four players from the women’s team having their names on the list, according to UIndy Athletics. Senior attack Abigail Lagos, senior defender Kara Antonucci, senior goalie Cassidy King and graduate student midfielder Peyton Romig all hit the list with Romig adding pre-season midfielder of the year to her resume. She comes off of a slew of awards last season as well, according to UIndy Athletics, with IWLCA National Player of the Year, IWLCA Midfielder of the Year and 2021 GLVC Midfielder of the Year being just some of what she was awarded. Romig said her success is attributed to her teammates and coaches pushing her to be her best and to continue to improve. She said since her first years in the program, she has developed from just a defense-oriented player to now an all-around player. Over her years on the team, a connection between her and Lagos formed, with the pair combining for 91 goals and 43 assists last season, according to UIndy Athletics. Delaney said those two are crucial to the program due to their history with the program, the pair being at UIndy for majority of the teams seven year existence.
“Both [Romig and Lagos] are team captains, both captains for four years now. It seems they’ve been here forever, and they really set the standard of what it is to be a UIndy lacrosse player,” Delaney said. “They bring it every single day, they’re our best players of practice every single day, they’re the best players in the country every single day, and we’re super lucky to have players like that leading our program because when your hardest workers are also your best players, a lot of good things can come from a cultural standpoint.”
With both teams in the top ten, Delaney said these rankings say a lot about UIndy’s commitment to grow the sport and their investment into both teams. He said that Stocks is one of the greatest coaches in the country and that is evident by the work he has done with the men’s team.
“Everywhere he’s [Stocks] gone, he’s kind of turned it to gold, you could say. He’s done that here; our men’s team is such a great example,” Delaney said. “It really pushes both teams to be better, our girls and our guys are super close friends on and off the field. I think success drives success.”