The men’s lacrosse team has had no time for growing pains this season. The relatively young and inexperienced squad is making its way through a schedule filled with elite programs leading up to the annually cutthroat Ancient Eight slate.
“It’s helpful to play against that kind of competition, because I think it gives our guys the confidence or the know-how to realize that they can compete at the level we currently stand right now, as a top-10 team,” said head coach Jeff Tambroni. “I think it helps to … size yourself up against some of these teams that are considered top-10 teams. I think with each and every step that we go the confidence level is going to continue to rise.”
After losing 11 players to graduation in 2005, the Red is depending on upperclassmen who are seeing major minutes for the first time as well as talented rookies to fill the gaps in the 2006 edition of the team. The leadership of the senior class, including co-captain Joe Boulukos and Cameron Marchant, will play a crucial role in the development of the team, Tambroni said.
“Your leadership has to be on par with your goals and aspirations that you set, and hopefully those guys learn those lessons throughout the week so we can be as good as we can be on the weekends,” Tambroni said. “If we can continue to do that I think we’ll continue to move on.”
Trial by fire has been a successful strategy for the No. 6 Red (2-0) thus far, as the team elevated its game in a preseason scrimmage against the defending national champions – preseason-No. 1 Johns Hopkins – and in wins over Binghamton and No. 13 Notre Dame. The latest victory, a 9-6 result on the road against the Fighting Irish on March 4, put the Red to the test in adverse conditions.
“It’s nice to see, under the circumstances – traveling out to Chicago, the long day of travel on Friday, playing in front of a nice, sell-out crowd in front of a ranked opponent in a very good game – that the guys could respond the way they did,” Tambroni said.
The poise and execution the team demonstrated this past Saturday will be called upon again and again, as match ups against Army and Lehigh loom in the weeks ahead. Both the Black Knights and the Mountain Hawks are just several votes shy of breaking into national top-20 polls. However, Tambroni is hoping the team will be able to develop the chemistry necessary to continue its winning ways on the practice field, rather than in game situations.
“I think you learn tough lessons, hopefully, in practice, not games,” he said. “[Tuesday] was one of those, it was one of our worst practices of the year – we ended up cutting practice short because of it.”
The team’s homework, so to speak, includes learning to maintain the same level of play, day in and day out.
“We’ve been a little inconsistent. I judge it more on day to day – every day that we go out to practice we try to evaluate ourselves, not just on Saturdays,” Tambroni said. “I think that the one knock on this team thus far is that we’ve been inconsistent. It may be a product of our youth or inexperience that we just haven’t been able to handle either good days or bad days. … But I think if we can learn that lesson – and I’m hoping that we can learn that sooner rather than later – I think we’ll have a lot more success coming down the line.”
Archived article by Olivia Dwyer Sun Sports Editor