Lacrosse is a sport that has typically seen more East Coast popularity in the past but has recently become more prevalent in the Midwest.
However, the SIU men’s lacrosse club is eager to start its season show the country what the Midwest has to offer.
“We want to let the Midwest know that we are a good team and that we will be competitive this year and for years to come,” said Mason Smiedendorf, senior SIU lacrosse club president.
The lacrosse club is a 27-man team founded in 2007. The team plays seven games a season and has upcoming games against other Division-I schools such as Northwestern University, Michigan State University, Western Illinois University and Eastern Illinois University.
The team kicks off the season when it travels to the University of Louisville on Mar. 2 to compete. Smiedendorf said he looks forward to playing such a well-known team.
“Our toughest competition will definitely be against Louisville,” he said. “They are a big division-one school, and we don’t know what to expect against them.”
Ryan Kunzi, freshman lacrosse club vice president from Deerfield, said he thinks this year’s team is a tight-knit group. However, the lacrosse team has seen issues with club membership and past support.
The first lacrosse club was formed in the early ’90s but had to dissolve because a lack of members. A new club was formed in 2007 and has remained active since.
“There has been a little bit of filtering in and out with players, but mostly we have all stuck though it,” he said. “It helps that we are all a tight group of friends and enjoying hanging out with each other.”
Although some team players have played for eight years, Kunzi said experience isn’t always necessary.
He said an athlete’s skills from any other sport should translate well into lacrosse.
“Other sports really come into play, especially hockey with the stick skills and basketball with how you play defense,” he said.
Freshman Steven Ta said he is hopeful for the club’s future and hopes to help the team move into a league with higher competition.
Ta said the team is most interested in the National College Lacrosse League, which features teams from Duke University, University of Rutgers and Syracuse University. He said a move to the NCLL would greatly strengthen the SIU lacrosse program.
“I am looking forward to getting players and continue growing the sport here,” he said. “If we can make the transition into a better league, we can prove that we are a top-level program.”