Though the weather is still quite indicative of January in Ohio, spring sports practices are well underway. Included are both men’s and women’s lacrosse, both of which started official practices on Monday, Jan. 22.
To begin their season, the men’s lacrosse team scrimmages Walsh University at home on Feb. 10. The women’s team will open their season on Feb. 17 with a scrimmage against Denison University.
The 2018 women’s lacrosse team has high expectations for the upcoming season, driven by fifth-year head coach Stacey Wood. One of the advantages that Wood mentions for the team is the even ratio between underclassmen and upperclassmen.
“I don’t think there’s much of a divide between upperclassmen and newcomers,” senior Kara Hines said. “… I don’t think we have many weak links. The girls we’ve brought in are very talented.”
Hines continued to praise the team’s underclassmen, saying that they possess “a lot of energy and a lot of drive.”
In addition to striving towards an Ohio Athletic Conference (OAC) championship win, the team has other specific goals in mind.
“This is our fifth season [as a program], and we have yet to beat Mount Union … so that is always on our radar every year,” Wood said. “We faced a lot of injuries last year, but this year will be the year.”
Men’s head coach Dom Marzano said that the men’s team will not travel south to begin the season as they did last year. Instead, Marzano says they will focus on staying in the Columbus area and putting in more practice time.
A large first-year class is part of what will fuel the 2018 team, as well as leadership from the 11-member senior contingent. Senior co-captain Brennan O’Callaghan said that development of all seniors into leaders is one of the many strengths of the program.
“It’s huge to be able to have that many leaders on one team,” O’Callaghan, who has played all four years of his college career, said. “… [to develop] the whole senior class to lead in their own kind of form.”
In addition to the senior leadership, O’Callaghan also expressed a positive attitude about the number of first-years that he predicts will continue in the program past this year. He highlighted the underclassmen as hard workers and credited them with helping set a productive mentality at practices.
Marzano also shared this optimism.
“Returning as many guys as we have,” Marzano said about the younger end of the team, “… some of the young guys have stepped up a ton for us and filled some gaps.”
Last season, the Crusaders finished third out of ten in the OAC. Marzano stated that part of the momentum came from the OAC pre-season polls. When the 2017 team was predicted to finish fourth overall, they took it to heart. This season is no different.
“It got all these guys pissed off,” Marzano said of his players’ reaction to the polls. “… I think it kind of fueled the fire.”
Both Marzano and O’Callaghan agree that defying their pre-season ranking and pushing towards an OAC championship win is a large part of what drives and motivates the team.
“You just have to make your team better, you just have to transition,” Marzano said. “We already know right now that we’re coming out to win every game.”
When asked about the toughest competition among other OAC teams, Marzano initially replied that all of the teams were Capital’s stiffest competition; however, he cited John Carroll University, Baldwin-Wallace University, and Otterbein University as the teams to beat.
“It’s not like one team has [the conference title] in a headlock,” Marzano said.
We can certainly expect big things from both lacrosse teams, but it’s the end of the season rather than the beginning that will define the 2018 teams for years to come.
“It’s how you finish that means the most,” Wood said.