February 12, 2016- Fort Lewis College, Durango, CO
There is still the same high level of talent, but there are new uniforms, new helmets, new gloves, and a new hope for this year’s Fort Lewis College Men’s Lacrosse Club.
It is the dawn of a new season for a few stand out seniors and their ragtag group of committed teammates. One mission, the elusive RMLC championship. After losing 3 of the past 4 championship games, this year’s team returns 8 of its top scorers from last season, and the core of a defense that was among the best in MCLA Division 2 last year. While the Skyhawks only list 21 players on their roster, there is confidence that every player will make a strong contribution and share the team’s mission.
The Fort jumps right out of the gate with 6 games against high quality competition. A game tomorrow (Sat, 2/13) against former conference opponent turned NCAA D2 team CSU-Pueblo will test the Skyhawks early and show them what they need to work on before a trip to southern California for spring break. In SoCal, Fort Lewis will open with a game against CSU-San Marcos (Sat, 3/5)who defeated the Skyhawks 13-11 last year in a back and forth battle of top 25 teams. Following that is an annual grudge match versus CSU-Fullerton (Weds, 3/9) who was one of the most exciting teams in the MCLA top 16 last year. Games against both of those schools will show if the Fort deserves a place among the MCLA’s upper echelon. Finishing spring break with a trip to geographic rival Northern Arizona (Sat, 3/12) will test the road-weary Skyhawks ability to compete in what is sure to be a tight matchup against a strong team. Hopefully some sunshine and top notch competition gets the Fort off to a hot start.
After spring break the battle for RMLC supremacy will be fought in Denver as 3 of the best teams in the conference, Montana State, Metro State, and FLC will meet over the weekend of March 17-20. All three teams share the goal of winning the conference and proving they are worthy of an at-large berth to the MCLA National Championships, so their regular season meetings will establish the seedings and drastically impact national rankings. It is always nice for the Fort players to visit their many families and friends on the front range, but it is just as friendly of confines for their rivals. Hopefully the Skyhawk faithful show up in droves for that weekend.
After those first 6 games, the Fort will take stock of where they are at as they move into the conference and home portion of the season. Every game in the RMLC is must win if the teams want to make the 4 team playoffs held in Salt Lake City this year at the U of Utah. Staying healthy will be important for the Skyhawks as they make their final push with a game against the always hard-to-beat UNC Bears (Sat, 4/23) before hopefully qualifying for the RMLC playoffs.
This year’s captains include Jr. goalie Hayden Pike who has a 60.5% save percentage over the past two seasons. Leading the midfield, senior captain Brooks Wilcox does it all for the Fort with groundballs, faceoffs, all-conference defense, goals and assists, while emotionally driving the team. Senior captain Max Segal is looking to cap off a career in which he has led the Skyhawks in points the past 3 seasons, with 197 points (only 52 behind all-time FLC leader Erik Johnson), and 3 Honorable Mention All-American awards.
The diverse offensive and defensive weapons for the Skyhawks will all look to earn their own headlines as the season continues. They all deserve attention and respect, but the whole team knows that respect is earned, and attention is best when well-deserved. The Fort is strong with this team, and they will go as far as they carry each other.