After winning only one game five years ago, the Occidental men’s lacrosse team looks to build upon its success from last year’s 8-4 overall (5-1 Southwestern Lacrosse Conference) record. The squad made the first round of the Men’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association (MCLA) playoffs, narrowly losing to Cal State Fullerton by a score of 12-8.
Junior midfielder Vincent “Vinny” Vigorita has been a staple of the Occidental roster for the past three years due to his experience on the field and his leadership qualities.
“He’s an exceptional person and a great leader,” Tiger head coach Mike Delbar said. “He always does the right thing; that is a rare trait for someone so young. He handles the ball well, and he makes everyone feel equal. He’s got that thing you want to follow and listen to.”
Vigorita’s leadership abilities have been consistently recognized by his peers. This overarching quality prompted his teammates to vote him vice president of the lacrosse program this season. Additionally, the members of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE) fraternity voted him co-vice president of their chapter.
Vigorita is set to take on the job of team president next season, replacing four-year veteran Doug Calder (senior).
“Vinny’s a great leader for the program because he played high-level lacrosse in high school,” treasurer John Solowiej (senior) said. “He takes faceoffs, scores goals, talks about the future of the program with enthusiasm and is just all you’d want out of a captain.”
Vigorita grew up on Long Island in East Hampton, N.Y., and attended The Hotchkiss School in Connecticut, where he played in one of the toughest lacrosse regions in the country. He came to Occidental to have fun playing his favorite sport and to pursue a pre-med education like his father.
“My father played D-III lacrosse in college,” Vigorita said. “I look up to my dad a lot, and I want to carry out the Vigorita family name well like he has.”
Vigorita said that he also tries to pass his family’s love of lacrosse onto his little brother, who also plays the sport.
“I taught him everything,” Vigorita said with a smile.
Vigorita hopes to transform the men’s lacrosse program, currently a Division-II club organization, into a more prominent entity at Occidental and around the Southern California landscape.
“We are a team on the rise,” Vigorita said.
Vigorita attributes the success of the team to the high level of play with which his teammates perform every week. Attacker Jake Kahane (junior) has led the team in goals for the past three seasons and will take over the vice president position from Vigorita moving forward. Sophomores Brad Calder and Patrick Walsh were named All-SLC selections as first-years at the end of last season.
The team has missed the contribution of Teran Mawhinney (junior), who is currently sidelined with a shoulder injury. He was also named All-SLC at the conclusion of last year’s campaign, earning a First Team nod.
As a result of its smaller numbers, the team did not reach the playoffs this year, despite recording some big wins that included a commanding 15-5 victory over Division-I opponent UC Irvine. At one point in the season, the squad suited only 12 men, giving them only two available substitutions.
“We struggle to have the consistency,” Delbar said. “We have one great game, and one average game. It is tough to do a season like that.”
Vigorita and company look to end the season on a strong note, traveling to Cal State Channel Islands Saturday at 2 p.m.