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The first two games have now been completed for the Illinois State lacrosse club. Traveling to Memphis, Tennessee to take on two highly talented competitors in the likes of Texas A&M and University of Tennessee. These two games proved to be tough contests for the Birds as these were our first two real games on a full size field and also against two out of conference teams who had already had 6-7 games under their belts.

This was also our spring break trip as we began our week long school hiatus on Friday. These are the type of trips that club lacrosse players live and die for. Hoping into 12 passenger vans, we hit the open road for a 7 and a half hour drive. Arriving in Memphis at around 5 PM we had time to kill before our 8:00 pm game time against Texas A&M. Beautiful weather awaited us when we arrived in Memphis. We came out slow against A&M and their attack picked apart our defense. Set back 7-2 at half time we once again dug ourselves a hole seems to be a reoccurring theme. The Redbirds were able to mount a slight comeback, winning the second half 6 to 5 but falling short in the end 12-8. A&M was able to capitalize on a penalty plagued Illinois State defense. It is hard to win games when you are playing man-down for half the game.

Our second game was not until 1:00 PM the next day but everyone was conked from the car ride and playing a game that it was an early night for the team. We woke up to 60 degree weather which is paradise coming from central Illinois. We got up big against Tennessee after the first half 6-2, but apparently Tennessee was not playing their starters in the first half? That made absolutely no sense but whatever floats their boat. They mounted a comeback when they inserted their starters into the game. It was also a test of a 45 man roster against our meager 28 man roster. They out ran us in the end. I am still very confused as to why a nationally noticed team does not start their starters, from what we were told their starters never start, so doesn’t that mean those players are not real starters? I guess they do it different in Tennessee. But if they continue that game plan they will get smoked at nationals. Thank you to Tennessee and Memphis University High school for hosting these games. It was a great experience and great exposure to go out and play these two teams.

If anyone ever gets a chance to travel to Memphis I would highly recommend eating at Central Barbeque right off the Memphis University campus. Too die for pulled pork sandwiches and primo ribs.

Time to relax for spring break and begin to prepare for our next tough opponent in Western Michigan on March 20th. Last year proved to be a very good game with Western Michigan winning by one goal in the final seconds of the game.

If anyone caught the UNC Duke lacrosse game yesterday (March 10th) Billy Bitter is one step below God, that kid is unreal… Go Tar Heels

Until next time, later lax world

One love…

isu_playerFriday April 3rd proved to be a long and tiring day. Running around left and right trying to put everything in place to make sure that our game on Saturday April 4th goes off with a bang. From getting timers to air-horns to even locating a working scored board from the oh-so wonderful Recreation Department here at Illinois State. Also, making sure that the field was lined properly was no easy task. The Redbirds had a walk thru around 5 o’clock on Friday to get mentally prepared to take on Western Michigan the following day.

This was our Alumni and Family Weekend for the lacrosse team so there was even more riding on this game than just a W. There was also the shear fact that we wanted to play well and win to give our alumni and fans a good showing. There was also another part of Saturday that was wearing on our hearts as well. This was our first home game, and we were paying respect to our teammate who we lost earlier this year. We were retiring his jersey, #21 and invited most of his immediate family to attend the game. Preparing to speak in front of a large crowd is not my forte and I was extremely nervous for this.

We met as a team around 7:00 PM to get our jerseys that just came back from the sew shop, because we had memorial #21 patches stitched on our home jerseys and also one of the alumni brought us a Navy flag to sign and present to his family at our ceremony.

That night most of the team just hung out and a bunch of us went bowling to only leave us knowing that we were only meant to play lacrosse and not to bowl. Bowling is an older man’s game and should allow for numerous amounts of alcoholic beverages, but we keep the team on a strict policy of no drinking the night before games.

Saturday morning came way too quickly. I did not end up falling asleep until around 3:30 AM after exchanging text messages from a teammate about how pissed he was that his roommate had a band over and the noise was outrageous. This is what happens when you stay sober on a Friday night and it seems as if the whole world around you is out having a jolly ole time sipping on some spirits.

The team met at one of the houses and prepared for the field around 12:45 to already find a very fired up Western Michigan team already preparing for the game that was slated to start at 2:00 PM. It seems as if our team, when we arrive at a field, put on their equipment and are so excited to play way too early for a game, just as if they were 5 year olds waking up at the crack of dawn to open presents on Christmas (trust me I was there as a kid).

Around 1:45 we brought the team up at the midfield line and had Jason Nash’s family gather around. I had prepared a speech a couple days before on what I wanted to say to the family. I thank Western Michigan for the class that they showed during this ceremony. Their coach had them all take off their helmets and line up at the restraining line. It was a very emotional time for me amidst trying to hold back the emotions and having to read the speech that I wrote. Later on after the game I was informed that ABC and NBC were set to record the speech for a documentary they are doing on Veterans of the war (Jason was enlisted in the Navy) but went to the wrong field. That would have been incredible had they have come and seen our ceremony. There were the most fans at this game that I have ever seen.

The game started and Illinois State came out to a quick 3-0 lead. The lead changes went back and forth until Western Michigan put in the go ahead goal with 2 minutes remaining. It was a great day to be playing lacrosse and it was a humble experience to retire Jason’s jersey. Unfortunately we did lose the game, but winning and losing meant nothing on this day, what mattered was what we were doing for Jason and his family who have shown nothing less than amazing character and support during these hard times.

I believe that even though we lost, this was a great game to be a part of and it was also an eye opener to our team, that winning every game in the season is an incredible feat and that sooner or later a loss was going to be experienced. It was better to loss to a non-conference team than loss late in the season to a potential conference team that could knock us out of the playoffs.

Illinois State takes on University of Illinois Tuesday April 7th at 6:30 PM. Stay tuned for updates.

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Another weekend another two wins in the books for the Illinois State Redbirds. This time it was in very frigid temperatures in Milwaukee Wisconsin. We were slated to play 3 games in 3 days however given a freak snow storm that decided to dump around a foot of snow in Milwaukee forced us to cancel our game Sunday against Marquette. We were able to hold off a very tough University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee team Friday night, with temperatures nearing the 20’s. Defensively we did not play very disciplined but with a great effort in cage by Emmanuel “Mannie Fresh” Nuno we were able to hold UWM to 6 goals. As a team I felt we came out very flat but was able to pick it up in the third quarter.

It did not help whatsoever that there was a casino directly across the street from the fields. And when I say directly, I mean I could have spit into the parking lot from the field we played on. All I could think about was playing some roulette and blackjack but realized the real reason we had traveled to Milwaukee, to win games. That we did and we were able to notch our record at 4-0.

Saturday proved to be a colder game as the storm started to roll in. This time we were up against a very dangerous team, Minnesota-Mankato State. We kept a lead early but Mankato was able to almost come back with a very great performance in the 4th quarter.

The field was old school turf which sucks to play on; because anytime you fall you are going to pay for it when you water hits the turf burn. There was a lot of down time for our team this weekend and most of it consisted of making trips to the restaurant/bar that was connected to our hotel and also relaxing in the hot tub. We decided to name this hotel Hogwarts as it seemed to have tunnels to everything that was offered. There was a tunnel to the arcade, there was a tunnel to the pool, and there was a tunnel to the office. It was nice to be able to give our guys the opportunity to go hang out in the pool/hot-tub and also the restaurant and bar to get away from having 7 lacrosse guys in a hotel room that should only accommodate 4-5 people comfortably. I do not wish that upon anyone but I know many teams face these kinds of accommodations week in and week out. But let me tell you by the end of the weekend those rooms smelled like a pigpen. 7 lacrosse guys in a room on top of all the equipment did not make for a very promising smell.

These trips prove to be my favorite because of all the nonsense and shenanigans that arises from being in such tight quarters with each other for 3 days and 2 nights. The team bonding is incredible to see and at the end of the weekend instead of wanting to fight each other, we are that much closer. It feels great being 4-0 right now but we have definitely not played up to our potential yet. The second half of our season is quickly approaching and we have do not have an easy game by any means. We take on Western Michigan this weekend for our home opener and then travel to University of Illinois to take on what proves to be our biggest rival game.

I am very happy in the way the season has been progressing given all the nonsense we have dealt with to get here. We have overcame a lot of adversity so far and it would have been easy to go belly up and not fight through it, but we have, and right now it feels good to say the Illinois State Redbirds are undefeated.

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.

team-picFirst off let me just come clean and say this is my first time ever blogging. I could not even tell you what goes into a blog or what the term blogging even means.

I’ll start off introducing myself. My name is Mike Synek and I am currently the President for the Illinois State Club Lacrosse team. We are associated with the Great Rivers Lacrosse Conference a part of the MCLA. We are strictly a club team that funds our entire program from individual dues. The school gives us minimal support financially which makes it quite hard to not be in the red at the end of the year. We have been around since 1988 and are still the oldest standing club here at the university. Illinois State is located in central Illinois in the wonderful city of Bloomington-Normal. Bloomington-Normal is the usual college town with our local drinking holes and house parties, usually ending up in poor decisions and a headache in the morning.

Back to the lacrosse though, this year we are really re-building as we lost a lot of seniors last year, most of which had been with the club for all 4 years of their college career. We took a hard blow late last year when we lost one of our closest and hardest working teammate. Jason Nash, our teammate, brother and friend passed away at the early age of 22. It really hit us older guys hard because we have been through thick and thin with Jason, and we are still trying to pick up the pieces. Our team is just like any other club team in the United States you come together more as brothers which makes you a stronger club, and losing a brother never comes without the emotional anguish. We will never forget Jason and if you knew him you would not either. We will be playing this year dedicated to him and will display a memorial patch for his remembrance on our jerseys this year.

Our club team has been working very hard this winter, working in the facilities that we can get. We were given the graces of having a very talented freshman class, and many of them will be filling the shoes of starters who graduated. I really enjoy playing club ball more than anything because it gives me the opportunity to see what it takes to run a team while also being able to be a “college” student. My brother plays division 3 lacrosse in Michigan and I know his schedule is brutal. As much as I love the game of lacrosse, and I have been playing since I was in 5th grade, I enjoy being a college student as well. I came from a high school where there was not much showcasing for our players and we did not have the opportunities to get noticed by colleges as much as my high school does now. I would have loved to be given the opportunity to play at a divisional level but by the time I was getting recruited it was too late.

mcla

Illinois State lacrosse has brought great joy to my life given the individuals that I get to step on the field with day in and day out. Those individuals are going to be the ones that I will forever be in contact with, and I can’t wait to come back in 5 years and get to play with them again. Illinois State really puts a lot of emphasis on getting to know one another through social events and those are the times you will never forget. More soon to come stay tuned…

The Zags are gearing up for another exciting lacrosse season. The Men’s Lacrosse team at Gonzaga has begun preparing for a rigorous 17 game schedule that includes 3 top 25 teams. The team will travel to San Diego and play some very tough competition and is pleased to announce 6 home games.

After a successful training camp in early January, the Zags have been practicing hard in anticipation for their first game. The team is proud to announce 8 freshman recruits coming from all over the country. Even more promising, the Zags return 10 seniors and 9 starters overall. Below is the 2009 Gonzaga Men’s Lacrosse schedule:

2/6 7:00 PM- VS. PLU @ Curtis High School Tacoma
2/8 12:00 PM- VS. UC Chico State @ Queen Anne Bowl Seattle
2/13 7:00 PM- @ University of San Diego
2/14 2:00 PM- VS. Loyola Marymount @ Coronado High San Diego CA
2/15 1:00PM- @ San Diego State University
2/16 11:00 AM- @ UCSD
2/21 1:00 PM VS. Oregon State University*
2/22 12:00 PM- VS. University of Oregon*
2/27 7:00 PM- @ University of Idaho*
2/28 1:00PM- @ Washington State University*
3/22 6:00 PM- Alumni Game
3/27 7:00 PM- VS. University of Puget Sound
3/29 12:00 PM- VS. Montana State University
4/4 1:00 PM @ Boise State University*
4/11 1:00 PM @ Portland State University*
4/18 1:00 PM @ University of Montana @ Washington Grizzly Stadium*
4/25 1:00 PM VS. University of Washington*
4/26 12:00 PM VS. Simon Fraser University*
5/2-5/3 PNCLL Final Four Playoffs*
5/12-5/16 National Tournament in Denver Colorado

All home games are played on Mulligan Field on the GU campus. The field is at the corner of Cincinnati and Desmet.

Hope to see you all on the sidelines!

The Gonzaga Men’s Lacrosse Team

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