Re-Lax-ing again

by Beacon Staff • March 22, 2006

With more freshmen than juniors and seniors combined, the team is taking advantage of its youthfulness.,In only its second season as a varsity squad, the Emerson College men's lacrosse team is striving to make a name for itself in the North Atlantic Conference (NAC).

With more freshmen than juniors and seniors combined, the team is taking advantage of its youthfulness.

Never mind that some of its players never held a lacrosse stick before this season; this group of go-getters is all about improving. The team aims to gain respect as the top dog, or Lion, of the conference.

The team made playoffs last year with an official record of 3-7. Emerson Head Coach Scott Dupuis said the 2006 preseason poll taken by the NAC coaches ranked Emerson fifth in the conference.

"My feeling is that we're being underestimated, and that will work to our advantage," said Dupuis.

This season, Dupuis said the team is "trying to head in a new direction."

Last year, men's lacrosse was brand new to Emerson varsity athletics and wrestled with breaking its club mentality, he said.

In its second season as a NAC contender, Dupuis said the team needs to be in a strictly varsity state of mind.

Co-captain Nick Fox, a senior writing, literature and publishing (WLP) major, said he believes the team is ready to meet its ambitions.

"We've set our goal to win our conference this year," he said.

A mild winter, without a lot of snow to prevent outdoor practices, has given the team almost two months to prepare for the spring, Fox said.

The season kicks off at home today at 4 p.m. against Norwich University.

To make playoffs, Dupuis said the team needs to win at least four conference games out of the seven scheduled.

"Six wins will give us the conference championship," he said.

Fox also emphasized the importance of winning conference games and said doing so could give Emerson a home field advantage in the playoffs.

"We've definitely gelled more this year," Nick Pereira, co-captain and junior political communication major said, noting how well the team has been playing together thus far. With freshmen, transfers and new players making up the majority of the team, Pereira said fresh faces are always welcome.

"We have new players who've never picked up a stick before," he said. "The more the merrier."

Whatever the Emerson men's lacrosse team lacks in experience is made up for in effort.

"The dedication and attitude of the [players] this year is almost shocking," Dupuis said.

Fox also said he is impressed with how enthusiastic the team members have been about improving and helping each other.

On the field, Dupuis said the team's strength is in its defense. While he said the graduation of last year's goalie Jeremy Powers is the "biggest single void to be filled," he is optimistic about a more balanced team this season.

Assistant Coach Daryl Goodwin has joined the team this year to specifically work with the defense.

With the extra help, Dupuis is able to give the offense greater attention.

With what Pereira thinks is a "better talent level, commitment level and energy level" than last year, Emerson should be prepared to take on even the toughest teams in the NAC.

Dupuis said the biggest games will be against last season's top conference finishers: Castleton State College, Mount Ida College and Maine Maritime Acadamy.

According to Pereira, Mount Ida College is probably the best team in the NAC, so Emerson is really "gunning to get them down."

Pereira is impressed thus far with the rise of the ability level amung the players.

"We've definitely improved," Pereira said, adding he did not think many other teams in the conference have made as great of strides in developing.

He said if the team plays to its potential, Emerson will be a top contender in the conference.

The team is looking for home-game support at Rotch Field, Pereira said, and encourages Emersonians to come out and help the team "defend the den."