The University of Indianapolis is seeing many of its teams gear up for their spring seasons, and the men’s lacrosse team is no exception. According to Men’s Lacrosse Head Coach Greg Stocks, the team is not only getting into shape for the upcoming season, but also getting used to a new roster of players compared to the past few years. Due to this, the team’s new faces are stepping up to fill the spots left open by the 2023 graduates, Stocks said.
According to UIndy Athletics, last season the men’s lacrosse team fell short to Limestone University in the conference tournament. Stocks said the loss was bittersweet because the team still had a good enough season to make it to the NCAA Divison II tournament.
“I think we had kind of a bittersweet ending. We lost in our conference, which hurt,” Stocks said. “It was during our graduation and something like that, so there were a lot of family and friends in town for that. So that was a tough loss, but we had done enough through the regular season to get us into NCAA tournament play and it was nice to go down to Wingate and kind of avenge the loss that we had in the middle of the year in NCAA tournament play.”
While in preseason, Stocks said he noticed strengths within the team’s defense. He said this should allow the team to develop its offense for upcoming matches. However, Stocks said the team will need to tighten up their plays this season.
“We have been a little sloppy, so we have got to limit our turnovers, be a little bit more crisp in our clears and just be able to make plays without giving the ball back to the other team,” Stocks said.
The team’s determination is what is going to win matches this season, according to senior defender Dougie Crawford. Crawford said he hopes the new players learn how to integrate into the team from the upperclassmen on the team.
“I hope they can look at the older guys in the team—especially our senior class, those who have played a while, or those who are just getting their first opportunity now—to learn how to grow as a player and become what they see ahead of them, because our program is outstanding and has been ever since it started,” Crawford said. “So if the older guys are role models for the younger guys and the younger guys learn from them, we can continue to have a great program year after year.”
Crawford said he noticed that the freshmen players are connected to each other on and off the field. He said their relationship with each other reminds Crawford of his freshman year. Players having a strong relationship with each other help to keep players on the team, according to Crawford.
“Our freshman class is quite large this year, so we have 20 guys, they all kind of live within the same dorm as did I freshman year,” Crawford said.“I believe that’s the best scenario for the kids. They can grow up and be already connected so well just because they live with each other and they’re a little bit closer from the start, as well as the amount of players, if you have more in your class, it’s easier to find your best friends that way. And that’s what gets people to stay at the school a little bit more. So it helps to have a retaining group of guys that will continue to come back and then grow the program like we did.”
Stocks said his goal for the team, like always, is to go to both the conference and national championships. They also want to host the conference championship after winning their regular season’s championship, according to Stocks.
“Our goal is always a national championship and conference championship. Now some of the smaller goals like winning our regular season championship so that we host the conference championship are some of the things that we look to work on throughout the season,” Stocks said. “Having good results against our out-of-conference opponents is really a big thing. So we always, we want to do as well as we can and our end goal is always a national championship, but we got to hit all those little goals moving up to it.”
Crawford said he is looking forward to this spring season, which will also be his final season playing for UIndy. Crawford said he was able to learn both lacrosse and life skills from past players. Now, he said he is mentoring other players in communication and defensive skills.
“Specifically, this year, I’ve worked a lot with Adam Wong, one of our freshmen poles who’s going to start. So we’ve been talking a lot and I’ve been helping him get used to our defense and how to work within it and excel within it,” Crawford said. “Beyond that we also have short stick D-mid Jason Davide that I’ve worked with and communicating how to clear the ball a little bit better, little things, how to play one-on-one defense and what we’re looking for from them as part of our defense.”
The team’s first match was on Feb. 2 against Alabama Huntsville, according to UIndy Athletics. Crawford said he wants to see the team keep pushing the entire season as well as redeem themselves from their match against Limestone last season.
“I think, personally, that the team shouldn’t take their foot off the gas,” Crawford said. “We’re out here to win, we are going to do everything that we can to win. That’s never been in question, but I hope we can come out strong with a few first wins against Alabama the first weekend then continue to take that to the national champions, which is LR [Lenoir Rhyne], the next week after that and show them we’re not just someone who’s fallen off.”