Lacrosse team preps for upcoming game against Randolph-Macon, ODAC
THE UPCOMING MEN’S LACROSSE GAME AGAINST THE RANDOLPH-MACON YELLOW JACKET’S WILL DETERMINE FUTURE GAMES, STANDING IN ODAC TOURNAMENT
This Saturday’s men’s lacrosse game against Randolph-Macon will be like a big entrance exam to see if the team has what it takes to continue. But unlike the SATs, the upcoming Old Dominion Athletic Conference tournament is a full-time commitment.
“The coaches prepare us a lot in advance so we’re not just cramming for it on Friday,” junior and midfielder Devon Winbush said. “Pregame practices will be more intense, more game-like, so we can stay in that mindset the entire week.”
The upcoming ODAC tournament is an important time for men’s lacrosse not just for the chance to make it to the NCAA tournament but to prove themselves against the odds. The team was ranked seventh in the preseason polls, which was not a great report considering teams need to be in the top six by the end of conference play to make it to the ODAC tournament.
Head coach Thomas Carmean is not too concerned about the preseason stats though. After getting into the playoffs last year, Carmean believes the team will now have the experience and focus to move further into the tournament.
“The first year we got in (to the playoffs) was a brand new experience for us, and it was kind of nice for us to be there,” Carmean said. “Our objective this year is obviously to make it back to the playoffs and we’ll have some experience having been there and we can focus on getting to the next step.”
Assistant coach Chandler Zirkle ‘14 said he thinks the team is more than prepared to take on the ODAC. While a pivotal tournament for the team, they will approach these games with the same drive and focus that they always do.
“We approach all games with the same amount of preparation,” Zirkle said in an email interview. “We’re taking the season one day at a time, trying to improve as much as we can.”
The team has larger numbers this year, but also a high proportion of underclassmen, especially on offense. The large number of underclassmen helps create an effective dynamic for the team, running like a well-oiled machine.
“Our offense is clicking and our defense is running really smoothly as well,” Winbush said. “We’re a close-knit team, probably the closest we’ve been since I’ve been in the program.”
Captains Will Forestal and David Felipe are making sure to prepare the team for this season and bring up the first-years and sophomores. Along with this solid dynamic, another advantage going into conference play is the more seasoned defensive line, including junior goalie Parker Styles, who ranked fifth in goals allowed (156) and saves (185). Styles also ranked sixth in save percentage, at 54.3 percent.
The team is hopeful that this year will be their best ODAC performance yet.
“They feel like there’s a lot of opportunity to go further and finish higher than we have in the past,” Carmean said. “They’re looking at that opportunity in a great way and so am I.”