Student Life Archives (2001-2008)

Men’s Lacrosse Will Try To Stick It To Big Ten Will Try to Stick it to Big 10

It’s not often that a Washington University sports team is mentioned in the same sentence with such Big 10 schools as Indiana University, the University of Illinois and Michigan University.

In its first year as an official member of the USLIA (United States Lacrosse InterCollegiate Associates), however, WU’s men’s lacrosse team (2-0) will now finally face the likes of these large midwestern neighbors.

The lacrosse team has come a long way since its inception in the early 1990’s. Started as a recreational team with no coach, the team has evolved into its current state as a competitive, official USLIA club team.

The senior lacrosse players remember experiencing quite a different team atmosphere than today’s when they joined the team four years ago.

“When I came here freshman year I had this expectation of high school practice every day,” said senior co-captain Sergei Lie. “But it was totally laid back and it was all about lacrosse and was very casual, very laid back, it was a good time.”

“My first year here was `97,” said senior goaltender Aaron Altose. “And at the time it was just a bunch of students. We didn’t have a coach, there wasn’t a lot of organization, we had a captain and that was about it. We’d have practices maybe once a week, or maybe twice a week, but that’s just if we could get people to come out.and even then we’d go with like nine people to a tournament and have to pick up other players from other teams once we got [there].”

Gradually the team attracted more players and last year hired current coach J.P. Harbour. Then, the team not only faced-and beat-a bigger school in the University of Missouri, but also went undefeated (9-0) for the season. But at the time, the team was merely an associate member of the USLIA and thus couldn’t qualify for the playoffs.

“Well, last year was our first year competing in the CCLA [division] and to be perfectly honest with you we didn’t know what to expect,” said co-captain and club co-president Dev Bala. “We kinda got a feel for it after the first couple of games and we played [Mizzou] and that was a close game.”

With the early season 11-10 overtime victory against Mizzou, the WU lacrosse team proved it was able to keep up with the “big boys.” That game, coupled with their undefeated record, helped make WU lacrosse full-fledged members of the USLIA.

Bala, who helped to organize the team and mold it into its current form, sees the rewards of his work every day.

“Probably one of my bigger motivations is just to see the team assemble every day and see thirty guys show up on the field and know I had a hand in organizing it,” said Bala.

“It’s been a rewarding experience. [The team's] gone through dramatic changes with each year. I think that all the changes we’ve made in terms of the administrative side of the team and getting ourselves organized, it’s all led up to this season.”

The team currently competes in the CCLA division with the aforementioned schools and thus has a chance of making the playoffs, depending on their final record. The top six out of 17 CCLA teams qualify for the playoffs.

Though WU contends with these schools on the club level, the mere size of the public universities often gives them an advantage over WU, specifically in the funding department.

“[Most of the larger schools] are varsity club status,” said co-captain Bobby Dudley. “They get money and use of school facilities as if they were a varsity team, but they only compete at the club level. We don’t have trainers, we have limited field space and limited travel funds. A lot of the budget that our team has comes from the players’ pockets.”

WU does gain a one-up on these schools in its geographically diverse, and often more experienced, talent pool. As a smaller, private university, WU generally lures a large amount of students from the east coast, a region where high school lacrosse is prevalent. The neighboring state universities attract mostly students from the Midwest.

“[At] WU we get a lot of help from the east coast,” said Bala. “Out of all the schools in our league we have a unique situation in that our student body draws a lot from the east cost and we get an influx of talent that other schools [in the division] don’t necessarily see.”

Though WU’s battle against the Big 10 schools won’t begin until March 2nd with a game against Michigan State University, the importance of this weekend’s battle, a rematch with Mizzou, cannot be ignored.

“Last year.[the Mizzou game] was just a big deal because they’ve been in this league for awhile and were ranked. They weren’t supposed to lose to us, and we came out and just had a really good game,” said Lie. “And in the fall we played them in kind of a friendly match and we beat them again, which says a lot.

So this season, this year, it’s kinda the same thing again. But we’re in the league, and they’re ranked above us. So all the pressure is on them again, and we’re really hoping to come out and prove ourselves.”

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