Nearing the home stretch of its regular season, the men’s lacrosse team (6-6, 2-5 NESCAC) sits at .500, but has struggled in the NESCAC, where it is currently in ninth place. All is not lost, though—the team sits just one game behind the final NESCAC playoff seed with three conference games left to play.
Since the beginning of preseason, the Polar Bears have set their sights on the highest of goals.
“This year, just like every year for the past couple of years, our preseason goal has been to win a NESCAC championship,” said captain James DeSisto ’19.
Following a 9-6 loss to Colby (6-4, 3-4 NESCAC) on Wednesday, the team has three chances left to secure one of the final seeds and the opportunity to play for the NESCAC championship.
This has been a season defined by injuries, and coping with the loss of key players has been a tremendous challenge all spring. Nevertheless, despite fielding many less experienced players, the team is still within range of qualifying for the tournament.
“We were young coming into this season … but we had a decent amount of experience,” said Head Coach Jason Archbell. “Last year, particularly in the second half of the year, we had some younger guys play a lot [due to injuries.] So it wasn’t like we were completely new … ironically, though, as the season’s gone on, we’ve been even probably more injured [than last year.] It’s been tough.”
With such a short season—the team’s first game was just over a month ago—it can prove challenging to adjust amid injuries and reshuffling rosters on the fly. However, the team has taken some measures to be prepared for those situations.
“Just because of how rosters shape up, you’re just not going to have a ton of depth,” Archbell said. “You have to do a good job of making sure guys are ready to step up … it’s just trying to make the individual as comfortable as possible when they step into those roles.”
DeSisto echoed this sentiment, describing the team’s culture as key to its ability to react to the limited availability of more experienced players.
“We’ve always had the ‘next man up’ mentality. Everybody’s getting equal reps in practice, so it’s the expectation that you’re doing all the work that you need to do to be ready if you do get put on the field,” said DeSisto. “As a team, we have a pretty good culture of [believing that] nobody’s better than anybody else. Anyone can earn a spot on the field.”
Importantly, however, Archbell made it clear that the solution to overcoming injury troubles wasn’t to make dramatic changes to the formula that has taken the team to where it is now.
[They need to] understand that … they don’t have to give these herculean efforts,” said Archbell. “But it’s more just this guy steps up a little bit here this guy steps up a little bit here, and this guy maybe plays a few more minutes here. [That’s how] we can deal with this.”
For all of the team’s struggles, Archbell has never had any loss of faith.
“If we get healthy enough, we can we certainly have enough talent and ability to win [the NESCAC championship.] It’s more just [a question of,] can we play together for 60-plus minutes.”
The team will conclude its regular season with three critical NESCAC contests, starting with a matchup against fourth-place Wesleyan (9-2, 5-2 NESCAC) at Whittier Field on Saturday at 1 p.m.