By: Rebecca Winicour
The University of Mary Washington men’s lacrosse team will return to the Battleground Athletic Complex for their first game of the spring 2022 season on Saturday, Feb.12. The team is hopeful for a more normal season after their 2021 season was canceled due to COVID-19.
“We played a highly competitive schedule through some difficult difficult circumstances and definitely had our ups and downs,” said assistant men’s lacrosse coach Tyler Houston in an email interview. “That said, when we started playing our best lacrosse late in the season, COVID unfortunately had other plans and we got shut down. But our mind is on the future!”
Houston’s goals for this season are to take things “One game at a time, one play at a time, focus on us and live in the moment! [The players] have started very well. We have been able to build quickly on the productive fall and our guys are soaking up new information. We have great confidence in where we currently are.”
Houston, a class of 2016 UMW alumnus and former student-athlete on the lacrosse team, said that “the team’s dynamic depends on which side of the ball you look at,” meaning that the team’s dynamic changes from the attack to defense.
According to Houston, the defense is led by the two senior captains, business administration major Sam Pugliese and geography major Sam Allen. With 10 freshmen and seven returning sophomores, the defensive side of the team is young. On the offensive side, the team has four returning juniors and five returning seniors.
“We are preparing for the spring through intense practices and a lot of time watching film on both our opponents and our own practices,” said Pugliese. “This will help us fine-tune our game plan for every game.”
Pugliese explained that, overall, the team is very senior-heavy. When asked about the chemistry of the team, Pugliese said, “We work on team bonding through hanging out or being together all the time. It could be simple things like hanging out with the guys and watching a game on TV or eating together in the UC.”
Junior political science major and offense midfielder Jackson Davis said that the team feels like a brotherhood.
“My favorite part of being on the team is the competition and the brotherhood that comes along with it,” he said. “It’s really special to be a part of a group of individuals that go to battle together with the same goal in mind. Every guy on the team has each other’s backs on and off the team.”
As team captain, Pugliese tries to treat every game like it’s the most important game of the season.
“We want to be the most prepared and focused team out there. I know I want my last season to be the best one yet,” said Pugliese.
The goal for this season is to make it to the tournament in the long run but face each opponent intentionally in the short run, according to junior business major and goalie Riley Green.
“We go and take care of them and then we’re onto the next,” he said. “In the past we’ve looked ahead in the season, underselling teams we should beat, [will cause] us to lose.” Green said that he feels the chemistry of this year’s team is the best it has ever been.
The team will kick off their season with a home game at 1 p.m. on Feb. 12, facing off against Randolph-Macon College.
Victoria R. Percherke contributed to the reporting for this article.