A new roster, a new coach and a new attitude headline the 2013 Emerson men’s lacrosse season, which begins in just over two weeks.
Head coach Dan Gold enters his first year at the helm of the Lions after graduating from Emerson last semester. Seeing the program develop, he said that the reason for the team's abbreviated 10-game season last year, and its current one, is because of a limited roster, which only contained 16 players last spring.
“[This year,] we have a 20-man squad,” said Gold. “We just don't have the legs to get us to 15 games... Last year, we were dead after 10 games.”
Senior defender Matt Ulrich, a visual media arts major said he is happy that the team was able to add four new and better players to this year's team.
“I'm definitely excited [about the roster size]. We got a lot more talent this year, too,” said Ulrich. “So even though the numbers aren't quite where they need to be, there's definitely a much brighter outlook this season.”
This season brought in 11 new players, eight of them freshmen.
“[The freshmen are going to have a] huge impact. We have two freshmen starting at attack,” Gold said. “They're all definitely going to be seeing playing time.”
The leaders on the team also see this year's freshmen class being beneficial to on and off of the field. Senior Clayton Fisk, an illustration major at the Univeristy of Massachusetts said that in only a few weeks, their identity on the team has already changed.
“[The freshmen are] fresh faces, but they folded right in,” he said. “It already feels like a family. We've been together for three weeks now, so they're not really freshmen anymore. We're all the same guys.”
Although there are many upperclassmen on the team, everybody is on the same level in terms of experience under the coach. After playing for the team just last season, the Lions must now see him as a coach instead of their teammate. Gold has found this transition to be smooth overall, although bumpy at times.
“[At times] It's very difficult. You come in, you have previous relationships with guys, and the relationship has to completely switch,” said Gold. “But on the other hand, it's pretty rewarding. I like watching the guys I played with grow up and fill the leadership role.
From a player's standpoint, the transition has been easy and, according to senior journalism major Billy Leopold, very helpful to the program.
“[Playing under him] has been great,” Leopold said. “Dan obviously knows the program inside and out. He understands the time commitment with our education and classes ... It's really nice to have somebody from in-house to lead us.”
Despite all of these new and unknown factors, there has been one new element that is positively affecting the culture of the team. Ulrich said that the Lions' attitude has changed for the good from last season.
“I think everyone's work ethic this year is way better. Everyone's way more committed,” said Ulrich. “Everyone just coming out and putting the work in is the biggest difference from last year. We're way more excited for this year than last year.”
Last season the Lions finished 1-9. According to Ulrich, Leopold, and Fisk, this team has the potential to finish the year at the .500 mark, increasing its win total five-fold.
By mid-March, the Lions will have been practicing for a month. With ample time, Fisk said the team will be ready for its first game.
“We're going to be firing out of the gate,” Fisk said. “Being out on the field and out of the gym, you can already feel the change in the play. I think when Wheelock rolls around, we'll be ready to go.”
Emerson plays their opening game March 16 at Rotch Field against Wheelock at 3 p.m.