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vs_kansas2Illinois State Lacrosse preparing for a long weekend. The Redbirds will be traveling to wonderful Milwaukee Wisconsin where the weather will be chilly and the scenery will be nothing but cornfields. Nothing against Wisconsin, I love the state but the drive from Bloomington-Normal to Wisconsin consists of nothing but cows and cornfields.

There is nothing new that is happening with our program, oh wait yes there is. This weekend we will be taking our own vehicles to the games (university certified) because the university vans that we were supposed to have were double-booked leaving us to find another means of transportation. This is not my first choice of transportation but given the little time period to find alternative travel means we had to resort to our own cars. We will be packing up in 7 vehicles to travel 3 and half hours away to play some very tough teams. We will be up against University of Wisconsin Milwaukee Friday night, Minnesota-Mankato State Saturday afternoon and end the weekend at 9:45 AM on Sunday against Marquette. These are three out of conference games for our team and should prove to be some very good competition. It has been a rocky week having to cancel practice Tuesday due to weather, leaving us with only two days of full practice to prepare.

I have instilled in our team that we need to put aside the issues that have come about with not being able to take vans and have tried to keep a sense of fun during practice. This is a very competitive sport but with any sport there has to be a level of fun to keep everyone enjoying what they are doing. If it is all work and no play that would not make for an enjoyable season. I think keeping the practices very intense with a sense of fun makes for a very tight nit group of guys. Of course nothing can ever be perfect but we have always strived to be the best of friends on this team. I am a firm believer in the fact that if you enjoy the people you are around that is going to make for a better team.

I think everything that is attached with being a club sport makes you realize just how much each and every other team’s administrators work at making sure the season goes off without a hitch. I salute all administrators present and past on each club team and varsity level team because I have experienced first hand the ups and downs that are associated with running a team. Most of the time it is a grueling task of making sure all the little details are filed out but in the end you see the product that has become and the way that everyone meshes together.

Wish us luck this weekend and we hope to bring back 3 wins to Bloomington- Normal and get ready for our conference games in the month of April. Look for an update on this weekend when we arrive back home. Good luck to other teams that are competing this weekend.

As spring break quickly comes to an end it will be back to being a student and having to stay on top of classes. Being a college student I was unable to get away for a week and go on a 7 day drinking excursion with friends. I sat at home and browsed the Internet between breaks of watching Sports Center and college basketball.

What really caught my attention were these forums that our out there especially for college lacrosse. I guess because I am not on the forums I don’t get why everyone needs to post about random topics. From why a team beat up on another team 27-0, or how players are still eligible. I guess if your 24 years old and having nothing better to do then forums are where it is at. And maybe I am being hypocritical because I am writing in a blog, who knows. I do know that these forums are what are ruining good old competition.

There seems to be many individuals that just complain about every little detail they can find, the ball wasn’t right, there was too much wind on the field, there goalie had a cooler stick then ours… It gets to a point where I do not even want to read the forums anymore but they are one of the only ways to keep up on what is going on in the league. It used to be that the forums were a way to post the upcoming games for the week and have people make predictions but now it’s whether or not there is going to be a cook out after every playoff game.

I don’t mean to offend anyone but I just think as adults there shouldn’t be all this bickering back and forth on a college lacrosse forum. Don’t get me wrong competitiveness is what makes this game so great but when it comes down to complaining about certain issues, those issues should be brought to the commissioner or the president of each league not air dried on a forum.

If a topic is posted, great, go nuts, but don’t bring up ideas of this team shouldn’t be in this league and that team shouldn’t even be allowed to play. It gets to a point where it is really just childish.

On a lighter note, through the boredom of having nothing to do this week I put together a list of players to watch this year. By no means am I a professional or connoisseur at this but I felt these players really bring their “A” game day in and day out and are really exciting to watch. These players are a great impact on their programs and will do great things in the rest of the season. For most programs, the season is half way over but look out for these players to “do it big” in Denver.

Attackmen:
Casey Mithun #4, University of Minnesota- Duluth (Senior)
Ben Towner #7, Simon Fraser University (Junior)
Corey Noonan # 3, Florida State University (Senior)
Chris Jehling #12, Lindenwood University (Graduate Senior)
Connor Martin #99, Chapman University (Junior)
Mark Manning #2, Brigham Young University (Sophomore)
Marcus Wooden #23, Chapman University (Senior)

Midfielders:
Dan Pitzl #9, University of Minnesota- Duluth (Junior)
Mike Clayton #9, Chapman University (Senior)
Mike Coursault #13, Lindenwood University (Senior)
Elliot Grow #32, Brigham Young University (Junior)
Steven Black #35, University of Illinois (Senior)
Peter Vasher #40, University of Michigan (Senior)

Defenders:
Zach Elyachar #30, University of Michigan (Senior)
Phil Keebler #24, Sonoma State University (Senior)

Long Stick Midfield:
Chris Schaible #33, University of California- Santa Barbara (Senior)
Curtis Manning #16, Simon Fraser University (Senior)
Britton Cone #10, Brigham Young University (Junior)

Face-Of Specialist:
Eric Chang #13, Claremont College (Senior)

Goalie:
Kevin Moriarty #13, University of Colorado (Senior)

If anyone has any other opinions or thoughts of players that should be on here feel free to comment. Like I said by no means is this going to be a perfect Top 20 to watch but I think it is relatively close.

posterIllinois State traveled to Iowa City this past weekend to play in our first two contests of the season. Personally I was very nervous about playing, more nervous then I have ever been playing this game. It wasn’t that I was nervous about playing lacrosse it was just butterflies from seeing what the end product would be from our hard work and dedication this past fall. At first we could barely make the trip out to Iowa City because some complications arose with the university vans that we had to secure for the trip. It is awesome being a club team in the sense that 26 college students packed up in three vans and took off for a 3 hour drive the day of a game. If it was a NCAA program they most likely would have been already at their destination the night before a game. This was my first trip out to Iowa and let me tell you that drive from Bloomington- Normal to Iowa City has to be one of the most boring drives.

Before we even left for Iowa, one of the vans would not start due to a dead battery. I thought to myself that this was not the start we needed for a long weekend. We left Illinois State around noon to make sure we had enough time to get to the hotel and get the “bus legs” out. Seeing as this was going to be our first time on a full field since the fall I wanted to make sure the players had enough time to get acclimated to a full lacrosse field. Let me tell you that Iowa’s Bubble is probably the nicest facility that I have played at. The lighting was hard to get used to but the field was beautiful with the dome above your head. However, there was a lift machine that was in play on one of the end lines. We got to the field around 6:45 PM to start preparing for the game.

I got a sense of anxiousness coming from the team and most players were suited and ready to play by 7:00 PM. I had to let everyone know we still had an hour before we played and not to wear themselves out. I knew everyone was ready to play and seeing that sense of anxiousness was very settling for me. Being the organizer for the team I feel that however the team plays is a reflection on the administrative board. We went through some clears and then suited up for our pre-game around 7:15. Once on that field I really started to get the butterflies and I do not know why. I have been playing this game for so long but a part of me was almost in a sense questioning how I was going to play. I knew this was not a good way to start the season so I had to get a hold of myself and calm down.

8:00 PM, the first face-off of the 2009 season for Illinois State lacrosse against the Iowa Hawkeyes. I have to give it to Iowa, they have dramatically improved since I played them two years ago. They got out to a quick 4-1 lead. By half time Iowa was leading 4-3. We had a lot of little mistakes and penalties that stemmed from not being disciplined. I gathered up the team at half time and our coach really brought us together saying that we needed to come out hot in the third quarter. We ended up scoring 8 goals in the third quarter to take the lead. We really did not turn back from there and won our first game against Iowa 14-8.

vs_kansas

After a night of 6 people to a room and a lack of a good night sleep it was up in the morning to get to the field by 1:00 PM to start preparing for our next game at 2:00 PM. This game was a must win for us because we were playing Kansas who is a conference team. This game was a nail biter through and through and it came down to the wire. We ended up pulling out the win 7-6 to a very talented and hard hitting Kansas team. Both games had many penalties and we were playing most of each game man down. The freshman class for Illinois State stepped up big and we have to give the credit to our defense unit for the win in the Kansas game.

Overall this was a very promising weekend for the Illinois State Lacrosse Club. We had 8 different scorers for the weekend and many freshmen scoring their first collegiate goals. Personally I was ready to head back to Illinois State after the second game, and I could barely walk up the stairs of the hotel. But it was the start of our spring break and I decided to give the guys a night out on the town, after all we deserved it coming out of this weekend 2-0. I figured it didn’t hurt for a night out with some buddies and some cold beer. I believe that is what makes this game so great, is that you can go out and play your heart out and lay a few hits but then go out later and be able to have some fun with the team you just played. I am very proud of our team and believe this is just the start of a special year for the Redbirds. We have a lot of little details to file out but it is easier to work on when you have won two games instead of losing two games. Now its time for a whole week of no homework and relaxing, I am very anxious to get back and start practicing outside. Hopefully the weather will allow this and we are going to start preparing for our next game which is March 27th in Milwaukee. Illinois State is on spring break this week and will return to the field next week weather permitting. Adios from rainy Northbrook, IL.

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