JACKSONVILLE, Fla.— With the dismissal of the Jacksonville University football program, other athletic organizations are poised to show what JU athletes can do.
The men’s lacrosse season is in full swing, with one of the best rosters the team has seen in a while.
“This is the deepest talent team, I believe, we have ever had at every position,” said Hayden La Vangie, the team’s captain.
Currently, the team is 2-1. The season started out slow for the Dolphins with a home loss against Detroit Mercy.
“This was so surprising as the JU men’s lacrosse team has been dominant at home,” said head coach John Galloway.
JU men’s lacrosse has improved tremendously and since 2018, the team has managed a 9-5 home record.
After the loss, the team looked to rebound quickly with a Feb. 8 home game against Vermont; the game was cancelled due to weather.
With the cancelation, the coaches faced an issue of how to keep the players motivated for their game against Marquette on Feb. 15.
“We treated the break like a second pre-season,” said Galloway. “We took the time to evaluate our strategy, re-energize the players, and come up with a game plan.”
Players also helped keep each other accountable to not let the first loss discourage themselves.
“The way we played that game wasn’t us” said senior Andrew Mitchell. “We wish we could have that game back but it’s in the past. We can’t do anything about that game, but we can focus on the upcoming weeks.”
After a week of waiting, the team went to Milwaukee and won against Marquette 11-9 and then defeated Robert Morris 15-8.
With the start of the Southern Conference games on March 14, the team is taking the time to prepare to play their best.
“The games we play before SOCON are like warmups and our end goal is a championship, possibly even to go to the NCAA tournament,” said Mitchell. “I believe our chances are better than ever with the team we currently have. Everyone loves each other and the there is great chemistry in the locker room, which is a big part of a success.”
The team is set to play Duke next Tuesday, a team that has won three national titles in the past 10 years. A win against Duke could help them gain momentum going into the March 14 game against Mercer; the first SOCON game.
“A win would be awesome and every year we get closer to beating Duke,” said Mitchell. “It would increase our morale and we could definitely capitalize on it.”
The team is ready for the new season with a strong mind and end goal.
“Every game means so much when you get to conference play,” said Galloway. “They all count to your ability to play in the post-season and we can’t look past any of them. Every week is week one.”
The players are all excited for the season and to represent JU.
“This season we have a great senior class,” said Galloway. “They are all poised to prove what JU lacrosse can do.”