Illinois 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.
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.