Already three winning games into its fall season, men’s club lacrosse is gearing up for a successful year, and preparing for its next competition at this weekend’s Cortland Invitational.
Over 40 athletes participate in the club to get a chance to play lacrosse competitively without the strict commitment and stress that comes with being part of the varsity squad.
“While being very competitive, our team is pretty laid back too,” said senior middle Tom Hayford. “We sometimes joke that we play our best when we arrive at games 5 minutes before faceoff, which happens a lot. But when the game starts, the laid back attitude is over and we are all business. The relaxed attitude is what keeps things fun, but winning is nice too. This strategy seems to be working seeing as we are almost always ranked in the NCLL Top-10.”
As part of the National College Lacrosse League (NCLL), the club competes against nine other university teams in the area.
“It’s not like most club teams in the country. We have a pretty structured program and we practice more than most teams and because we’re in Upstate New York, we’re playing some of the better teams in the nation for club lacrosse,” said senior middle Chris Petrunik.
The team’s twice weekly practices include drills and scrimmages designed to keep players in shape for the more competitive springtime games. The practice area is limited to an indoor space — the Ramin Room at Bartels — so another important aspect of the club’s game preparation is anticipating the larger playing space that will be available during competition.
“To prepare for games, we’ll set up half-fields, six-on-six and run through our offense and defense. We might run through a few plays and work on our man-up and man-down. That’s all we really have room for.” Hayford said.
Hayford, president of the club, explains the appeal of club lacrosse.
“It’s a great way to keep doing what I loved in high school and it’s manageable enough so that I can easily do it. I’m a mechanical engineer so I’ve got tons of commitments, but I still have time to come out to practice twice a week. It’s a good release on the weekend going away to play some games,” Hayford said.
On Halloween morning, the club will participate in an informal tournament against Cortland, Syracuse and Binghamton.
“Cortland is usually one of our biggest rivals. Their varsity team isn’t as developed, but they still get a lot of local kids from upstate New York, and there are a lot of good high schools up here so they get a really good feed of solid lacrosse players,” Petrunik said.
The club experienced a boost in participation after a number of freshmen players joined its ranks at the start of the semester. Having plenty of players helps in instances such as this coming weekend, when the club will play three games in one tournament and can use extra bodies on the field.
“Some people can’t make the games on the weekends, and when we get a steady stream of people going to the games then we usually do pretty well,” Petrunik said.
Competitive play will continue into the spring season.
“It’s really great that on a Sunday morning after everyone’s been out on a Saturday night, they get up at 9:00 a.m. to drive three hours to Colgate or Albany to play a game. Club really tests your commitment to the game,” said junior goalkeeper Joe Benci.