Author: Jill Goatcher
The Men’s Lacrosse team is taking their division and Southern California by storm this season. Despite nearly losing the team three years ago, with only two players in their club program, the team has reached what has so far been the peak of a three-year reconstruction. With a record of two wins and no losses in their division, coupled with a fierce dedication to the sport they love, these men are scoring their way to division playoffs.
Lacrosse is incredibly popular on the east coast and seen in many of the high schools and on college campuses there.
The love of the sport is slowly spreading west, and one of the major prerogatives of new coach Pete Vasquez is to facilitate this spread. An alumnus of Occidental college, Pete’s infectious passion for the sport has spread to both the players and the Occidental community. He aims to build up the lacrosse culture on campus, and that starts in one place: with his players.
After having only two players on the club team and no games three years ago, then-first-years Michael Berman and Wesley Goodman-Levy (juniors), leading scorers on the team, took on leadership roles and started the process of shaping the team into what it is today. Three years later, and after some recruiting, publicity, a new coach and a fresh attitude, the team is doing better than it ever has before.
“It was a three-year building project. It was amazing that, as freshmen, they built the program back into a viable team,” Coordinator of Recreational Sports at Occidental Sae Woon Jo said.
The nature of club sports allows the players themselves to run the team, the same as any other school-sponsored club. The captains this year are Berman, Goodman-Levy, Marc Patrick (sophomore) and Brian Cropper (sophomore).
“There is a sense of purpose this year. We are playing harder and longer, and our practices are more intense,” Berman said.
This level of dedication is especially evident when looking at their statistics so far this year. In the most recent Collegelax.us report, the team’s offense is ranked top 25 in the MCLA Division II, the team has an amazing score average of 15.5 goals per game and they are outscoring their opponents two to one.
An amazing offense starts in the midfield, according to Berman, who is currently ranked fourth in goals scored. This sense of team unity, partnered with a drive to win, has brought the team closer together and made it a cohesive, goal-scoring machine.
The first-years on the team are a huge help this year, according to both Jo and Berman. Doug Calder, (first-year), who is from Las Vegas and has been playing for six years, is the leading goal-scorer on the team.
“The opportunity to join the team as a freshman, and to accomplish this much success, is a very exciting experience. I love playing lacrosse, and I’m just glad I can bring my skills to the table and have such an impact as a freshman. This team has seen a 180 degree turn around, and I’m excited to see where things go from here,” Calder said.
The team is hoping to make it all the way to divisional playoffs. With the lacrosse culture at Occidental growing, first-years adding new skills to the team, amazing leadership, a new coach and a fiery dedication to the sport, Men’s Lacrosse is setting new heights to take lacrosse in Southern California.
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