Note to judgmental observers: The Frostburg State men’s lacrosse team is not as bad as their record may indicate. As of their loss to Capital Athletic Conference (CAC) foe Marymount, the men’s lacrosse team is 2-11 overall, with a 0-5 conference record.
Sophomore midfielder Zach Douglas recently sat down for an interview to dispel the myths about the team. “Despite the record, people aren’t hanging their heads. After the game it’s tough, but out at practice the guys are still working just as hard if not harder. Out there shooting, playing wall ball, definitely not packing it in.”
Frostburg opened up the season with a 14-6 victory over Shenandoah. This victory gave many people in the program and around campus a sense of a strong season to come, but alas 12 games later, the only other win for the Bobcats has been a 8-6 win against Washington & Jefferson College.
Despite the losses, the team has had a slew of tough, close game losses, especially a double overtime 12-11 heartbreaker to Greensboro College during spring break. Other tight game losses include Neumann (9-8), Goucher (6-3), Hood (8-7), and Wesley (8-6). Had the guys enjoyed a few more lucky breaks in those games alone, the team’s record would be 6-5, much more reflective of the hard work they put it.
The reason Frostburg has struggled this season are two things: youth and injuries. About this season’s struggle, head coach Tommy Pierce has stated, “There is no doubt that we’re young, we’re only a second year program, we’re going to have to overcome our youth and combining that with the injuries that we’ve had has made this season an entirely different challenging level.” Zach Douglas went on to say, “Our record doesn’t show it, but this team has potential to be a lot better. We lost a lot of close games… but we’ve also had a lot of injuries and sickness, stuff like that. But people are playing hard, so they’re going to get hurt sometimes.”
The serious injuries the Bobcats have be forced to deal with are to keys players. A couple of team leaders were not able to make it to this this season. Sophomore defensive leader Zach Burkhardt after he broke his foot, and sophomore midfielder Lucas Flaig, last season’s third leading scorer, had hip surgery over the winter. Starting goalie Tyler Haines suffered a broken collarbone. Face-off specialist Billy Lark was winning 63% of his face-offs during the first three games of the season, and when he got hurt he had taken all but about 5 of the team’s face-offs. Last season’s CAC rookie of the year has missed a few games with a separated shoulder, until he recently broke his wrist, now he is out for the rest of the season.
Coach Pierce summarized the injury situation looking into the future very well in his own words. “The good news is all those guys don’t graduate and they’re going to be back next year and all the guys that are playing right now are going to get game experience. So even though this year hasn’t gone like we planned, we’ll be able to get back on track with year three given the scenarios we’ve had to work with.”
As many returners have gone down, freshmen have had to step up into starting roles. These players are earning good experience but they are being asked to play like juniors or seniors. But surprisingly, the freshmen have filled their roles and expectations quite valiantly.
“The freshmen class has really helped out a lot,” said Douglas. “Having them there really helps the overall skill because they’re really good.”
The freshmen stepping up for the team are primarily led by three guys on each part of the field. Attackman Devin Colegrove commands the lead for team points (26), while midfielder Chris Rios boasts the top number of team goals (16). Defenseman Paul Newman has been a huge lift for the defense, as he’s been routinely asked to cover the opposing team’s best player and has performed exceptionally. Goalie Alex Sharrer has filled in for injured goalie Tyler Haines and hasn’t skipped a beat.
Many young players are being thrust into roles they would not normally be without injuries to the team. But since the freshmen are filling the gaps while many returners are hurt, they are gaining valuable game experience. Coach Pierce said, “Guys are going to get experience that they wouldn’t have got this year, so next year when we get a lot of these hurt guys back I think we’re going to be deeper.”
Adding to struggle of a young team is Frostburg’s schedule; it is one of the toughest in the nation for Division 3. Headlined with Salisbury (ranked number 1), Stevenson (6) who the Bobcats will play on April 18, and Goucher (17), the Bobcats have created a schedule which will give the young team plenty of experience against top competition.
The most impressive attribute gained from the tough schedule is the team mentality. “When we go out there, were just going out there to play and we’re going to decide the game, not let anything about the other team determine how we play a game. And that is how we go into any game,” said Douglas. Coach Pierce further explained, “We do not have a defeatist attitude; you never know who could step up for you any given day.”
The toughness of the schedule and youth of the team will end up being a perfect mix to a great program as the budding veterans learn what is required to win games against the top competition in the country.
The optimism is high for the Bobcats as they move into the future. “A lot of guys see what we’re capable of, and just because our record doesn’t show it now, or just because the games aren’t going in our favor, doesn’t mean we’re getting down on ourselves.” Douglas said. “I don’t want people to look at our record and think that we don’t work hard. I don’t think the record should define the team.”