Men’s lacrosse battles injuries and tough conference


This season has not been kind to the Swarthmore men’s lacrosse team, injury-wise. Last Saturday, 10 men down, the team went up against Franklin and Marshall and lost 5-12. Despite copious injuries, however, not every game this season has ended in a loss for Swarthmore men’s lacrosse, and the team is looking forward to finishing off the season strong.

So far this season, the team has clinched a few important victories, including its back-to-back wins against Muhlenberg and Misericordia, both of which it won by five points.

Coach Pat Gress commented on the key to the team’s success in those games, saying, “In the Muhlenberg game, the defense played very well in the second half by not allowing any goals.  The attack rode well and forced the Muhlenberg defenders to clear only 50 percent of their attempts.  In Misericordia, the offense played consistently well throughout and assisted on 9 of our 10 goals.” Strength on both the offensive and defensive sides amounted to a team strength that carried Swarthmore to victory twice in a row.

Graham Lesko ’17 echoed Gress, explaining, “Offense played better in those games than in a lot of games. A lot of it was just sticking to basic principles [of good playing],” to which Cole Fox ’17 added, “we focused on picks and moving the ball.”

While getting back to the fundamentals was integral, players cited coach support and motivation as equally important to their success. “We had two assistant coaches join us this year, but one of our vocal leaders is Coach Kevin Gallagher. He’s really motivated the team, and a positive attitude is big,” said Braeden DeWan ’16.

Unfortunately, confidence, support and skill weren’t in sync this past weekend when the team played Franklin and Marshall. “We were trying to do too much and weren’t working hard enough to offset Franklin and Marshall’s pressure,” noted Stephen Ducey ’17. In the end, the team felt largely displeased with the game. Will Black ’16 described team sentiment as the game ended, saying, “When the final whistle was blown we were left wanting more.”

The team was able to pinpoint their specific issues last Saturday, some of which included allowing nearly 20 turnovers and not dodging in order to make offensive slides. Going forward, they will use the lessons they learned from this last game to play better in their final three games, which they are confident that they have the ability to win.

Swarthmore’s lacrosse conference is highly competitive and many of the teams that Swarthmore plays are nationally ranked. Swarthmore is also a big competitor, and the nature of the conference is such that all of the teams have an equal chance of beating any other team in the conference. Going into a game, teams can expect to encounter an equally skilled team and must attempt to meet and exceed their competitor’s skill level. Knowing this, Swarthmore goes into games prepared to do just that. As DeWan explained, “We have to go in with the attitude that if we grind against the other team and play scrappy and physically, we can throw any skilled team off their game.”

For this reason, Swarthmore lacrosse is going into the rest of the season with assurance that they are as good as – and can beat – any team they play. Gress laid out the team’s plan for the upcoming week, saying, “We will have short term goals this week to prepare for Dickinson and expect to have much improved offensive passing by Saturday.” For the long-term, the team has similar goals, which they plan to reach by practicing hard and implementing some of the same strategies that they did for their back-to-back wins a few weeks ago.

Currently, their practice regimen is thorough, demanding and entirely necessary. As David Selverian ’17 put it, “We have a lot of straight practices for four days in a row. We have to keep the intensity up and stay competitive during practice so that we’re competitive during games.” Lesko noted the downsides and upsides of practicing for many days in a row, saying, “Four days of practice can be a blessing or a curse, but you can come out a completely different team than you were.”

While an intense practice schedule can be physically, mentally and emotionally rough, the games are rougher and the amount of work that the team puts into practice can prepare them to face the arduous game play that awaits them on Saturday mornings.

Having emerged with several victories after a challenging season full of injuries, the lacrosse team is looking forward to showing what they’re capable of in the next few weeks, especially as the possibility of making the playoffs hangs in the air. This possibility, however, is contingent upon them winning their last three games.

The team will close out the season with a game against another nationally ranked school and with their big game at home against Haverford on April 26. Black captured the excitement surrounding the Haverford game, saying, “We always look forward to our last game against Haverford … we always have them circled in the schedule.” Come out next Saturday and support the resilient Swarthmore men’s lacrosse team as they play against one of our biggest rivals.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

The Phoenix

Discover more from The Phoenix

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading