Men’s Lacrosse Counts On Home Field Advantage

Cole Anderson

To an athlete, it doesn’t get much better than playing at home. It means no travel, no hotels, no rowdy opposing fans. It means playing in a familiar place, not losing valuable sleep from travel and, best of all, having close friends cheering for you and jeering at whoever is unfortunate enough to have to play against you on a given weekend.

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Photo by Catie Bergman

Last season, the Whitman College men’s lacrosse team had only two home games, one of which was cancelled. Their record was 3-3 overall and 1-3 in league. This year, however, the roster boasts more depth and skill. They also have an improved schedule with five home games. With new talent and excitement about playing at home more frequently than last season, the team is poised to improve on their results of last year and look to compete for a playoff spot.

On last year’s team, players like alumni Charlie Kistler ’13 and Ben Skotheim ’13 were able to help win games with their superior talent. Though gone this season, the overall talent on the team has actually increased.

“This year, while none of our players have stood out that strongly, we have a much greater depth and general skill level than we’ve had before. Our stick skills, ball movement and defensive communication are already looking much better than in previous years,” said senior captain Dan Ellis.

Junior Max Skotheim, who led in points scored last year, and junior Robbie Macnichol, who is currently recovering from injury, will be two players poised to step into the role left by last year’s seniors.

The team has improved partially because its returning members have improved and partially because the first-year group who joined the team have previous experience and enthusiasm.

“They offer numbers, which we really needed this year, and Evan Gallagher, our new goalie, is coming from that first-year class and has shown a lot of promise,” said sophomore attack Will Clifford.

The addition of a talented goalie was important for the team, since their previous starting goalie graduated last year.

The addition of more home games will also prove important for the team’s success, since home games benefit the team in a broader sense. Not only will the team likely play better at home, but more home games will also lead to increased support of lacrosse on campus. In the team’s only home game last year, there was a good number of fans, but having more home games naturally affords more opportunities for students who have never watched lacrosse to come out and be part of the action.

“I’m hoping that [more home games] makes a large difference. This will hopefully mean more fans, which has always been one of the most fun aspects of playing at Whitman. We have no specific plans to hype them up so far, but we will definitely be spreading word about the games when they get closer,” said Ellis.

The addition of fans isn’t the only advantage the team sees from getting more home games.

“We like playing at home partially because of the support we get from students, but it also means we are used to the field since we practice there every day. That helps us both mentally and physically, and we traditionally play a bit better,” said Clifford.

Fellow sophomore Joe Nunes offered similar input.

“Being at our home field just feels familiar. It’s also really nice not having to travel. Since we’re a club sport we have to travel in individual cars, which can be pretty uncomfortable for four-hour drives every weekend,” said Nunes.

The team’s first home game is March 8 on Ankeny Field.