Growing club rides momentum to big conference wins

UM lacrosse member Samson Magid sprints downfield looking to make a pass. The club posted an 8-5 record last season - its best yet - and will look to add victories over in-state rivals UF and FSU next year. Vincent Fung // Staff Photographer

Coming off its best season in team history, the men’s club lacrosse team is gearing up for the 2013 season with a fresh set of freshmen and transfers.

Last season, the team was able to withstand the loss of a number of key senior contributors en route to an 8-5 record. Miami, which has started six freshmen during most games this season, has become surprisingly successful. The team was also able to stay competitive with some of the traditional regional powers.

“I think it was very successful, given our youth,” head coach Alex Schultes said.

The team competes in the Southeastern Lacrosse Conference, which is part of the Men’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association (MCLA). Within the SELC, Miami is part of the Southeast Division, which includes in-state rivals University of Florida, Florida State University, University of South Florida and University of Central Florida.

Miami is entering its sixth competitive season as a member of the MCLA, posting a total record of 24-25. However, they are on the rise as of late, with a combined record of 14-9 over the past two seasons. Last season was highlighted by a win over division-rival South Florida, as well as impressive wins over the University of Nebraska and the University of Alabama.

The team also lost a thrilling double-overtime game against the University of South Carolina, a top-25 team, to conclude the season. Miami suffered two lopsided losses to Florida State and Central Florida, continuing an unfortunate trend in the team’s young history.

The team will have to reverse its fortunes this year if it hopes to make a postseason appearance.

The University of Florida will once again be the marquee game on Miami’s conference schedule, as the two teams have shared a number of close games over the years.

Last season Miami opened its season in front of more than 2,000 fans at a local high school in a highly anticipated matchup with its fierce rival. While Miami led most of the first half, Florida was able to keep it close and eventually pulled away in the final quarter winning 14-9.

Schultes has marked this year’s game with Florida as one of the key games in the season.

“One really exciting thing is that we actually catch the University of Florida for the first time since I’ve been coach, which is four years, in April towards the end of the season,” he said.

This could give the team, which is once again dominated by young players, a chance to really click by the time this year’s big game comes around, Schultes said.

He identified communication as the one thing the team needs to improve the most. This can be attributed, once again, to the team’s youth, especially with a number of freshmen and transfers who have never played together before.

“The communication already this year is a big improvement, like I feel like I know everyone on the team and we definitely didn’t have that last year,” said sophomore defenseman Steve Krawczyk. He notes that the leadership and attitude of this year’s team have contributed to all around improvements.

Both Schultes and Krawczyk have noticed the team’s depth, especially on the offensive side of the ball, has increased dramatically.

The team will now be able to run multiple offensive lines, comprising mostly freshmen, as opposed to the one or two the team struggled with last season. Although the team lost four-year starter Keith Ryan, who was twice named All-SELC, it has made up for it in depth.

“The great thing is, while we may lose one, two, three people, we’re gaining a lot in a very mature freshman class and a solid group of transfers,” Schultes said.

“We really christen our SELC season with a three-game road trip up to Florida State,” Schultes said. “We play three divisional powers in Florida State, a rematch with South Carolina from last year, and Georgia. You know after that weekend we’ll really know where we stand.” Schultes has identified a birth in the SELC tournament as the goal for this year’s team, while Krawczyk hopes to put together a 10-win season, neither of which the team has ever accomplished. Schultes said it would take a major power shift in the division but he feels that it is a reasonable goal.

“It’s something we’ve worked over the past four years on and we’ve been inching forward to that. I think it’s very tangible and very within reach,” Schultes said.