From the time the season began, the Keene State College Owls lacrosse team did not even have a field to practice on.
Now, in early May, they have gone undefeated in conference play, and punched their ticket to the NCAA tournament.
At the beginning of the season Head Coach of the Owls, Mark Theriault, said that he had a talented group, and his main focus was to make sure that the team gelled to play well together.
Theriault is finishing up his seventeenth season as Head Coach of the Owls, and he said that he was very impressed with what the players brought to the table this year.
The beginning of the season started off a little shaky when the Owls only won three out of the seven
games played. However, Theriault said he set up the schedule to play the top teams in the nation at the beginning of the year. “I feel like playing those teams give us the opportunity to prepare ourselves. We play at a higher level, and learn that style and that pace of lacrosse,” Theriault said.
He continued, “Winning some of those games really gives us the confidence and the drive to go into the conference and start rolling. It seems like we did that again this past season.”
Sophomore midfielder, Tyler Reilly, stated that the key things they focused on at the beginning of the season are what got them to this point.
“We had so much success because of unselfish play. Our goal was to be more athletic than every team we play, and share the ball. When we did that we saw great results,” Reilly stated.
Reilly scored 52 goals and helped with 17 assists totaling at 69 points on the season thus far. The sophomore from Grafton, Massachusetts, scored four goals to help the Owls to victory over Eastern Connecticut State on May 2.
Sophomore attackman Bryan Rotatori said that the seniors were also a big part of the success to the team.
“This year’s team was lead by the actions of our seniors. The intensity and willingness to push everyone to work their hardest at all times is irreplaceable,” Rotatori said.
Rotatori, also from Grafton, Massachusetts, helped out the Owls with five goals and one assist in the game against Eastern Connecticut.
Coach Theriault said that he does not like to look ahead in this case, and the team will practice for one game at a time.
“I know that cliché line of you can’t look past your next game, but quite honestly we can’t,” said Theriault
Rotatori said that the team was able to leave everything on the field after every game, and was able to stick together through thick and thin, which leads him to believe that they have great potential to make it deep into tournament play.
According to the Little East Conference website, sophomore Rob Har led the conference with 79 points.
Junior Tyler McKelvie led the conference with 58 goals, and Senior Ryan Hart led the conference with 32 assists. After a 23 to 12 win against Eastern Connecticut, the Keene State Men’s Lacrosse team will be taking on Bates College in the first round of the division three NCAA tournament.
Connor Smith can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org