Michael Costeines — Staff Writer
Behind Pelz Gym and adjacent from the baseball field lies a muddy, bare and shoe-printed field known as the Rugby Field. While used by the rugby team, it is also a practice facility to Southern’s club men’s lacrosse team on weekday evenings.
For many of the students, lacrosse practice comes after a long day of classes, sometimes they must even leave practice early to attend their next class. The players’ pinnies, helmets, lacrosse sticks and protective gear are either left their high school days or recently paid for out of their own pockets, not the school’s.
“The team is well organized for a club team and the competition is pretty good,” said head coach Anthony LoRiccio. “Since we started I see a great improvement in how these kids come out here and play.”
The club team competes in the Division II Pioneer Collegiate Lacrosse League or the PCLL against fellow opponents such as Central Connecticut State, New Haven, Coast Guard Academy and Briarcliff College. They also play out of conference opponents such as Stonehill, Carnegie Melon and Ohio power John Carrol. The Owls welcome their opponents to their transplanted home field off campus at Veterans Memorial Park in West Haven. Southern started the program in 2009 and are just in their second year competing in the PCLL. The team already believes that they can accomplish some lofty goals.
“Our team’s goals are high and we want to go to the conference tournament and hopefully onto nationals,” said captain William “BJ” Wood.
“We have a big test coming up against Coast Guard who is 17th in the nation, but our team will be ready for it. The University of New Haven and Central are our biggest rivals so it would be nice to beat them and maybe get a couple out-of-conference wins to expose our program to the country.”
Many members of the team are freshmen and the group is comprised of players from Connecticut except for two from the state of New York. Players’ skill levels range from recently picking up a lacrosse stick to a transfer from Division-I power Syracuse University.
“We were in a lot of close games last year despite still being new in pretty much all areas,” said sophomore captain Tim Albert. “Sure, Nationals would be nice and you can see the team improving every day through the way we practice.”
The team is coming off a 6-5 win over Yale University in their first match of the season. Albert led the team with two goals. The underclassman is one of 21 others who compose the team’s roster of 26.
“Our big thing I am proud about is the amount of freshmen we have coming out and joining the team”, said LoRiccio. “It is a good sign to see this many kids coming out and wanting to play because it shows that this program is in the right direction. There is certainty something that can be developed here because these kids are passionate and love the game of lacrosse.”