The men’s lacrosse team once again opened their winter season with a scrimmage against Stanford on Jan. 18, but the result was the same — a loss, which allowed the coach to play new players and motivate the team as they prepare for their season opener.
Head coach Mike O’Neill, optimistic about the team’s upcoming season, was satisfied with his team’s performance against Stanford.
“I’m pleased with how much they improved over the last year,” O’Neill said. “I want them to continue to improve on little errors, but overall I was pleased with their performance.”
As Western Collegiate Lacrosse League (WCLL) Division I defending champions, Stanford promised an intense and physical match. In the early moments of the game, the Cardinals were dominant and poised, leading to an early goal. However, within a few minutes of this score, the Slugs were able to tie the game with a goal by Zach Michael. But this was the closest the Slugs got to the Cardinals.
By halftime, Stanford led by a wide margin, though the Slugs were motivated and refueled, as O’Neill instructed the Slugs to fight for loose balls and pressure the Cardinals in his halftime speech.
Playing stronger, the Slugs looked very different in the second half, though it wasn’t quite enough to clinch a victory, as Stanford comfortably won 15-9.
“The first half was jittery — everyone had the nerves coming in, especially for the new rookie players since it was their first time playing a team like Stanford,” captain David Misaka said. “We are going to dust that stuff off and we are going to come out hot — it just takes one step at a time.”
Throughout the game, the Slugs appeared inconsistent. If they want to beat top Division I teams like Stanford, they must play consistently the whole game, captain Kevin Shea said.
“Cohesiveness and composure are two things the team must improve,” Shea said. “We have to play all four quarters, not just a few quarters here and there, if we want to play better and win.”
Playing a scrimmage game against Stanford helped the Division II Slugs develop their skills as they get ready for their season opener. The Slugs hope by the end of the season the team will be able to compete with anyone.
“It felt good. We weren’t as consistent as we would have hoped, but we did pretty well and it shows we can hang with the big boys,” captain David Cowman said. “This was a game to prove ourselves and show what we can do as a team.”
The Slugs will have two weeks to prepare before they face off on Feb. 8 against Santa Clara in a home game. Even though the Slugs had a similar start last season, they hope to end as champions of WCLL and earn a spot in the Men’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association Division II tournament in May.