After a sudden end to their 2020 season, the Montclair State University men’s lacrosse team is looking to come back into the fray, with a vengeance in a new environment changed by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The 2019 season for the men’s lacrosse team was more than decent: a winning record of 10-7, a 6-1 record at Sprague Field and a win in the conference tournament against Kean University. Unfortunately, their season ended in the conference semifinals against Stockton University. It was a tough break for the team, but in retrospect, they should be very proud of that season.
As 2020 rolled around, the Red Hawks got off to a hot start, winning the first four games of the season. All of the games except the first against DeSales University were close, but a win is a win and the team was in a huge momentum swing to kick off the new year.
The next couple of games did not go their way, as they lost to Ursinus College and Stevens Institute of Technology at Sprague Field. However, before the midway point of the season, the unthinkable happened.
The COVID-19 pandemic began to spread throughout the country and due to the uncertainty around it, many of our usual ways of life began to shut down, including athletics ranging from professional leagues, all the way to Division III sports.
After the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) shut down sports for the rest of the semester, the Colonial States Athletic Conference (CSAC) followed suit. The day before the team’s game at Hartwick College, the announcement was made that all athletics were suspended until at least April 3, 2020.
Even though last semester had no competitions or tournaments, practices still went on at Sprague Field and workouts commenced at Panzer Athletic Center. The Red Hawks were back at work, prepping to hopefully start another season without any more interruptions while staying safe from COVID-19.
After countless hours put in on and off the field while having to anxiously wait for new updates regarding the sport, CSAC made an update at the end of November announcing that winter sports would not be played through the month of January.
But finally, on Feb. 7, CSAC made the official announcement that the lacrosse season will be played during the Spring 2021 semester while following Return to Play guidelines and all other rules set out by local health officials and the NCAA. At long last there is a season to look forward to, but throughout these tough times, the lacrosse team has made some strides in and out of the sport.
Christian Boyle, a junior midfielder for Montclair State, is confident that this season will not end like last season and that he will make the most out of the opportunity.
“This year I’m gonna take in every day and enjoy just the ability to play each day,” Boyle said.
He also recognizes the COVID-19 restrictions in place but does not see that as an obstacle.
“The COVID restrictions can be a hassle sometimes but if it’s what we have to do in order to play and actually have a season, then I’m all for it,” Boyle said.
Not only is Boyle looking forward to the upcoming season, but he is also yearning to play with his friends and fellow teammates and compete for a championship.
The Red Hawks return a number of talented players from last year, including sophomore attack Tyler McCreery and senior goalie Matthew McLaren.
“I am extremely confident in my squad this year because we return a lot of experienced guys and everyone’s ready to go all out since most, if not all of us, lost a season last year,” Boyle said.
Campbell Donovan, the student manager of the lacrosse team, lays out the team’s goals very concisely in terms of what they want to accomplish.
“Our goals are to win the CSAC and make a run in the NCAA tournament,” Donovan said. “So, it’s about the little things and ultimately doing the right thing on and off the field.”
It was a long time coming, but with the spring semester in full swing, the basketball season being a success so far in the NJAC and the football team prepping to begin their season as well, the lacrosse team can jump into the competition soon and resume their passion once again. Even with the protocols in place and a likely shortened schedule, it is going to be a fun season for men’s lacrosse.