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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.

isu_flag

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.

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