Illinois State knew that these two games this weekend were very important and a playoff run was in our sights. Friday night we had a game against Indiana a newly joined team to the Great Rivers Lacrosse Conference. Indiana had a very successful season last year and knew they were going to be a very tough opponent. However, this was our first game in our football stadium, and this stadium brings a whole new meaning to home field advantage. A sense of being in the football stadium and being the only club that has the opportunity to play there is amazing. We knew that this game had playoff implications and knew that we needed to capture a win to stay in the playoff run. I would say that our conference is one of the most competitive conferences now with great teams from seed #1 to seed #6. Midwest lacrosse is on the map even if we are not NCAA associated. Lindenwood always brews greatness as well as the University of Illinois. The teams in D1 AA are also looking to make a knock on the conference playoffs door. Revamped programs such as Nebraska, Iowa, Creighton, Ole Miss and the rest alike are making a solid dent in the conference playoffs.
Illinois State pulled off a barn burner in Normal, Illinois on Friday night. Friday night Lights we decided to call this game. It was a game filled with back and forth lacrosse with very talented Indiana midfielders capitalizing against Illinois State midfielders. Illinois State was able to pull off one of the best lacrosse games I have been a part of in a long time, and we have to credit our win to our solid defensive unit and unreal play by a freshman goalie Emmanuel Nuno. The Redbirds captured a win 7-6 in overtime play.
Saturday brought a long day, being Springfest in Bloomington, IL. A great day with cheap drinks and a wonderful time, however our team keeps to the strict policy of no drinking before a game. A long day of trying to stay busy around my house and getting everything organized for the game the next day. We got ready Sunday morning to a steady rain and a wet field. Purdue was ready to play early as they always our. I tip my hat to Purdue lacrosse; they are always the first team to show up at a field. Even during the fall tournament in Madison, Wisconsin they were always the first team to be at the field and the last to leave. We had nothing less than a promising field to play on as it rained all night and all day. The game started with Illinois State getting out to a quick 3-1 lead. Purdue came back and the first half ended Illinois State 6 Purdue 5. It was a second half full of sloppy lacrosse, given the field, and the score went back and forth. Purdue looked to seal the victory late in the 4th quarter with a huge goal by midfielder # 45 notching the score 9-8. Illinois State tried to make a run and tied the score up 9-9 with a little less than 3 minutes remaining.
Overtime proved to not be the same for Illinois State than the night before. Illinois State went man-up following the overtime face- off, but Purdue’s defense, quarterbacked by a very talented goalie was able to shut down any efforts by the Redbirds. On a very well executed clear, Purdue came down and put in the game winning goal. Props given to a Purdue team that never gave up. Illinois State looks to pursue its goal of making a playoff run this weekend with two big games coming up against #9 nationally ranked Lindewood team on Friday and a very important game against Missouri, Sunday that could be the decisions maker for the 4th seed in the playoffs.