Men’s lacrosse focuses on team culture, drops season opener

by Matt Yuen | 2/24/16 6:30pm

The men’s lacrosse team opened up the season with a narrow 10-8 loss to Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut, putting the Big Green at 0-1 and Sacred Heart at 2-1.

The team grew holistically and as individual players during the pre-season. In addition to 6 a.m. lifting sessions in the gym, the team also dedicated a significant amount of time to growing closer as a unit.

The players took team-building off the field and out of the weight room as well, going on a leadership hike during the last week of January.

“While we were in the woods, we really confronted our insecurities with ourselves, our teammates, the coaches, and the program as a whole,” Jase Davis ’18 said. “What we said is that we’re going to leave all of those insecurities behind. The only thing that’s going to exist in this program is our trust in each other and our coaches.”

While Dartmouth’s team prides itself on its unity and working together as a team, Griffin Miller ’19 said that Sacred Heart tends to rely on individual skill.

“They’re similar to us, but they’re more selfish,” Griffin Miller ’19 said. “They’re more of an individual based team in that they attack from the individual players.”

Miller added that the Big Green’s offensive strategy utlizes the “whole unit,” which holds strong on defense as well.

“Teamwork is not a big focus for them as it is for us,” he added.

Despite the growth in individual skills and the cohesiveness as a team, Dartmouth still did not have the same game experience Sacred Heart did last weekend. Sacred Heart already had two games under its belt while the Big Green was playing its first game. As expected, the Big Green still had a few cobwebs to shake off before the team could really start playing to its potential.

“It was definitely a fight,” Will Randell ’19. “It was our first time out, so not all of the pieces fell together completely right. It was a bit sloppy at times, and there is definitely stuff we need to clean up. But our team fought together to the end, but that’s all we can really ask for in the first game.”

The game started off pretty shaky for Dartmouth. Sacred Heart finished the first quarter 2-0 against the Big Green.

“In the first quarter, we weren’t attacking as much, which is kind of our mindset,” Miller said. “Fight hard and finish fast. We always try to keep attacking, trying to finish as many plays as possible. In the first quarter, I don’t think we were following that as much as we could have.”

It was only in the second quarter when Cameron Lee ’16 scored the team’s first goal that the Big Green started on a bit of a roll. The team then proceeded to score more and more points, granting Dartmouth a 6-5 lead going into the fourth quarter. Randell, in his debut game, contributed to that lead with his first collegiate goal.

“It was a really cool feeling to score a goal, but the best part about it is that the entire team believed that I could have done it before we stepped onto the field,” Randell said. “I just trusted that our game plan and our teammates would put me in a position to score.”

The game unfortunately started to fall apart in the fourth quarter for the Big Green. Sacred Heart successfully shut down the Big Green’s comeback by regaining the lead and went on to double up its score in the final stanza, ending the game with 10 points to Dartmouth’s 8.

“We were pretty sure we had them for a good amount of the game,” Davis said. “But we let them back in and eventually couldn’t match their pace near the end. It’s a bit frustrating from a team perspective, but it’s a very good tool moving forward.”

Although the loss against Sacred Heart was difficult to swallow, the team still maintains a positive attitude by viewing this game as a learning experience. Davis emphasized that though the team still has much room for growth, it has made a tremendous amount of progress.

“We have come so far from Feb. 1 when our season started, we’ve come so far since the beginning of this school year, and we’ve come leaps and bounds further from where we are in this point last year as a team,” Davis said. “Those improvements — we cannot forget those. But that being said we cannot become complacent with the improvement we have made.”

Next weekend, Dartmouth is set to play against the Air Force Academy and the University of Denver in Denver in the Faceoff Classic.