Club lacrosse looks to bounce back next year

Club lacrosse looks to bounce back next year

Club lacrosse looks to bounce back next year
April 27
23:32 2015

Reece Waddell / Staff Writer

The UNT Club Lacrosse team looked up at the scoreboard and saw a 6-2 halftime deficit against the University of Houston on March 7. Along with being behind, the team was fed up. Trash talk and cheap shots loomed over the first half. Players walked off the field frustrated, some yelling, some quiet.

When the players got to the locker room, the atmosphere was tense, but they had felt that way before. After a quick pep talk, everyone was ready to get back to business.

The team scored four unanswered goals to open the second half and came back to beat Houston. Biology junior and club Vice President Brandon Onstott said the team has a tremendous amount of fight, and giving up was never an option.

“We were definitely a second-half team,” Onstott said. “But we didn’t panic. We knew we just had to go out there and play our game and we could get back in it.”

The team was founded in 1997 by Rick Forester, a transfer student from Texas A&M University. Forester is lovingly referred to as the “Godfather” of the team. Back in his playing days, the club had 10 players and often struggled to find schools to compete against.

Now the team is stronger than ever and competes against power five conference schools including Texas Tech University, Baylor University and Texas Christian University. It is part of the Men’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association in the Lone Star Alliance.

“We’ve traveled all over to play, and teams will come here to play us. Nebraska came here, and we went and competed against Miami. It’s a great opportunity to show our guys what’s out there and to show outsiders who we are,” biology sophomore and club President Joshua Fuller said.

The team finished 6-7 this year and went 2-3 in its division, with wins coming against Baylor and Texas Tech. The club also had to forfeit its lone postseason appearance because a player was not enrolled in the minimum 12 hours, and ruled ineligible. Integrated studies junior and team captain Ayham Duwaji said multiple players on the team have a tremendous amount of experience, and they will only get better in the years to come.

“A lot of guys on the team have been coaches, mainly in the DFW area,” Duwaji said. “I myself have coached, and it really helps you play the game and get your name out there. We have guys that have played for a long time and it helps when you’re out there competing.”

As members of the team put it, there is a mixture of hockey, soccer and football players. There are 20 players on a field at a time, 10 from each team. The objective is to move the ball down the field carrying the ball in a “stick.” Like hockey, players can hit, or “check,” each other in an attempt to get the ball.

Set plays, like give-and-gos and pick-and-rolls, are run to give the attacking team a better chance to score. The team on offense then shoots the ball into the net, guarded by a goalie. Goals are worth one point, and the game is split into 15-minute quarters.

This year, the team played its alumni game before the annual UNT homecoming football game. Duwaji said over 35 alumni came out to play in the game, and even more packed the stands to watch.

“It was definitely really cool to get to play before the homecoming game,” Duwaji said. “We have great support from our alumni and I think that’s one of the reasons we’ve been able to grow.”

Unlike other sport clubs on campus, the lacrosse team is not funded through the Pohl Recreation Center. While the rec center does pay its entry fees and MCLA fees, the team requires that students pay to play. The dues for the club this year were $1,000, which covered equipment, travel and other expenses. Fuller said they work with students to make sure money isn’t a reason someone doesn’t play.

“We’re college students, so occasionally it becomes an issue,” Fuller said. “We try our best to not let it interfere with the club. We never shy anyone away from coming out, and we’ll work with players, give them payment plans and that sort of thing.”

For the club, its focus remains on expanding and getting back to championship form. Both Fuller and Duwaji said they would like to see the team eventually become an official NCAA sport at UNT, but until then, are content with the status quo.

“We’re looking to build off this year. We want to get better, be a force and become a playoff contender come next season,” Duwaji said.

Featured Image: The lacrosse team raises their sticks during a match against Tarleton State University on Feb. 8. Photo courtesy of Jimmy Brown 

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