As the spring sports season draws closer, Capital University’s men’s lacrosse program is ready for action.
“This year, we’re hungrier,” Carter McCormick, junior midfielder, said.
Much of the team’s hunger stems from the results of the team’s 2018 season. While they posted a 9-7 record and finished fourth in the Ohio Athletic Conference (OAC), there was a general feeling within the team that things could have gone better.
“I think we came up short,” McCormick said of the team’s 2018 finish. “It wasn’t a bad year, but we came up short … we all wanted it to be better.”
McCormick, who has played lacrosse all three years he has been at Capital, also added that the team was prepared to go further during preparation for last year’s season.
Head Coach Dom Marzano agrees with McCormick, and said that although the team was ripped apart by injury and sickness, they, “can’t make excuses, but … just didn’t hit the goals we wanted to.”
Marzano is entering his third season as head coach, and added that because of the inconsistency in the lineup, it was hard to develop chemistry among the players.
The 2018 Crusaders finished fourth in the conference, but were ousted by John Carroll University, who went on to win the OAC.
Both McCormick and Marzano agree that the rest of the team shares their mentality, and is using it as fodder for growth within the team.
“The offseason was outstanding,” Marzano said. “ … I think it’s key to how we’re starting the season now.”
In addition to putting in work during practices, Marzano mentioned the chemistry that has been building outside the weight room, independent of offseason training sessions. Outside of fall practices, the team captains get athletes together for leisure activities such as watching NFL games, working at team fundraisers, or attending other Capital sporting events as a group.
McCormick said that the atmospheres of the weight room and the locker room have changed for the better, and that the culture of the team has improved overall. He specifically mentioned the dedication of the 2019 team’s freshman class.
“We’ve got a lot of freshmen that can start to make an impact early in the season,” McCormick said. “… they all have a good mentality and they’re ready to work … that’s all you can ask.” Five seniors and eleven juniors lead the large group of dedicated underclassmen of which McCormick speaks.
While the mindset of the team has grown, McCormick and Marzano said that the team has improved in a technical sense.
“We have a lot of midfielders who can play offense and defense,” McCormick said of the team’s newfound versatility.
Flexible midfielders are important when it comes to setting the pace of a game. Lacrosse is a fast sport, and midfielders that can take the ball further up the field are useful when it comes to attacking the opposing net.
Not having to substitute a midfielder for an attacker right away lets Capital control the pace of the game, and make more use of their time on the shot clock. A midfielder that can play both offense and defense well is a favorable matchup against opposing attackers that may not be great at defense.
“Our goal is to play fast-paced, and get the ball up and down the field faster than our opponent,” McCormick said of enabling this new strategy.
Marzano seconds the importance of two-way players. “Having midfielders bought into both sides of the ball is special,” Marzano said.
The OAC is competitive when it comes to men’s lacrosse. Both Marzano and McCormick agree that John Carroll University, Ohio Northern University, and Baldwin Wallace University offer the toughest competition.
“We’re going after everyone,” McCormick said. He added that in addition to the aforementioned opponents, Otterbein University is also a target because “we always want to take down our cross-town rivals.”
The team begins regular-season play this Saturday, Feb. 23 when they host Kenyon College.
Marzano has a very positive outlook toward the start of the season and praises his athletes for the work they have put in throughout the offseason, citing the competitiveness in practice and both physical and mental growth.
“I love where the guys are at right now,” Marzano said. “It’s authentic, it’s natural the way these guys are competing with each other. They really, truly want to win.”