Featured Image: Men’s Lacrosse scores 20-4 against Husson University on Saturday, March 4. Grace McGhee | Marlin Chronicle
Under the direction of Head Coach J.P Stewart, who is entering his 21st season, the Men’s Lacrosse team has started off the season strong with a current record of 4-3 after starting the season last year 3-4. This is the first time since 2020 that the team has started off with a winning streak.
The Marlins’ winning streak comes after defeating Neumann University, Husson University, Wabash College and fellow conference member Averett University. Out of the 34 players on the team, 16 of them are freshmen, most of which complete the starting lineup or get substantial minutes on the field.
They have started off the season with a breakout freshman midfielder Liam Murphy. He is second on the team in goals with 21, only trailing senior Mark Sprague, who has 26.
Murphy said his favorite goal is against Wabash University on March 5. “The goalie had the ball and he stepped out of the crease. He went to pass it and I just put my stick up and he threw it directly into my stick, and then it was a one-on-one after that with me and him.”
These two are not the only standouts on the team. Assistant Lacrosse Coach Prince Charles said, “Kris Barnum, the face-off kid, has been a standout. Seth Bearb has been a guy who you will see making very important plays happen but maybe not scoring every time.”
They are not the only ones that Charles thinks are doing great. Between the goalies defending the goal and the offense on the field scoring the goals, the team is coming together. Even the ones not playing are working hard to support their teammates on the field.
“This year, I just think we’re a little bit more fired up because we have such a young team,” junior defenseman Caleb Tascione said.
The Marlins have been getting stronger, as they won two games back-to-back on March 4-5. They defeated the Eagles of Husson University with a score of 20-4 and followed up the next day with a win over the Little Giants of Wabash College, 22-17.
These two games have proven to show the team increasing in dynamic and working to find and fix the holes in their lineup.
This year, the Marlins are focusing on getting better for each game, whether it is working on catching or getting better at communicating on the field.
“We devise team wall ball sessions and individual wall ball sessions to make sure that our teammates are getting their sticking and their hands that will allow them to be more capable or more comfortable with the ball in your stick,” Tascione said.
The team started with fall ball as a team bonding point and for getting to know their new teammates. The best moments of the team range from them coming back from a difficult score to the team just having fun with each other.
Team bonding and support are a big part of the making of a sport that relies on teamwork. It is something that the coaches can see the team doing throughout the season. Charles said what the team does best is “they support each other.”
Coach Stewart’s words have a heavy influence on the team as a whole. Even when the score is not in their favor, he reminds the team to take it one thing at a time.
“Our coach talks about the 1-0, no matter how many games we’ve won, or how many games we’ve lost, we are still going out with a winning mindset to go win the first game,” Tascione said.
This influence can be seen in the first game of the season against Neumann University when they were down 0-4 but ultimately ended up winning 14-12.
Murphy credits this to Coach Stewart’s words. “Coach Stewart called a timeout and said, ‘How do you eat an elephant?’ and then everyone was like, ‘one bite at a time,’ and then the team just got hype, and then we started to come back.”
The hard work is paying off already with a winning record and a team dynamic that focuses on working hard and being in the moment at the games. The players are excited to see the season continue and hope to go to the end.
“I just want everyone to know that it doesn’t happen overnight. And with crews like this, this is a perfect example of consistency and hard work and using that community to your advantage,” Charles said.
Catch the Marlins back on the field when they face the Wildcats of Randolph College at home on Birdsong Field on April 5. Face-off is set to begin at 7 p.m.
By MK Morris Larkin