Men’s lacrosse ready to make another GNAC title run

After leaving the season with a loss to Lasell College in the GNAC semifinals last season, Norwich University men’s lacrosse team has been preparing for this upcoming season unlike ever before.

“We try to hold ourselves to a little bit higher of a standard each year and this year especially,” said midfielder Jimmy Warden, 22, a senior elementary education major from North Andover, Mass.

Warden is one of this year’s team captains – a role he tries to fill both on the field and in the classroom. “As a captain, I just wanted to take some of the nuances that previous captains have instilled into the program,” Warden said, things like stressing to his fellow teammates that academics do in fact come before lacrosse. He believes this creates a culture for the players to manage their time better and a healthy balance between lacrosse and academics.

While most of the team has carried over from the previous spring, some key players left at the end of the 2016 season. “We lost an all-around great team player, Ryan Dart, who was a fantastic captain,” said Joshua Jenkins, a junior health sciences major, from Denver, Co. “He was just a great fundamental player, and who was a pronounced player defensively and truly knew how to encourage the other teammates.”

Many new players from the freshmen class are expected to step up this year. “I am looking to get on the field and gain the experience needed to be able to play college lacrosse,” said Russell Gilligan, a freshman computer security and information assurance major from Fountainhills, Ariz. “Being a part of a team that has a chance at winning the title is a great deal of pressure but I hope I will succeed.”

Warden agreed that the freshmen class has prospects who can fill those lost positions from the previous season. He believes that Gilligan can help out in midfield and will more than likely see playing time.

“I think that everyone had a little bit of a bitter taste in their mouth after losing in the semi-finals for the conference for the third year in a row,” said Warden. “I think that the loss made a lot of the upperclassmen returners very hungry and wanting more.”

Warden explained that the hunger from losing the conference finals is seen more and more on and off the field. On the field, the players are being more aggressive than ever before while still putting in extra hours by themselves or with small group of people during their off-time.

Other than overall playing time, captains as well as the remaining players have specific games and tournaments they are looking forward to.

“The game we enjoy the most is Mount Ida, just because when the conference first started it was either Norwich or Ida that took the conference,” Warden said. “I know that both teams look forward to that game all season, and bring a little more than usual.”

Understandably, the team is also looking forward to defeating La Salle University. “I am genuinely looking forward to the re-match with La Salle, the team we lost to in the semi-finals,” said Jenkins. “In addition to that I am looking forward to the re-match against Emmanuel.” Emanuel College has won the GNAC Championship three years in a row.

It is starting to become reality that the season is now less than a month away, despite all the snow on the ground. Players and coaches alike want to prove to the Norwich community that the men’s lacrosse team is serious this year and ready to go the distance.

“We are a large group of young men that would like to be respected around campus and we try to carry ourselves as such,” said Warden. “It’s a great group of guys, and lacrosse events are always things I look forward to, just to be around those guys and to feel the positive energy,” something he largely attributes to the tireless energy of the coaching staff.

The Cadets will be hosting the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth on Saturday, March 4, at 1 p.m. for their first game.

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