Lacrosse ready to bounce back

Nickie Morris, Staff Writer

The 2018 men’s lacrosse team is a deeply optimistic and committed group, despite finishing with a 5-8 record last year, their worst season since 2014.

Led by senior captains James Leary and returning red shirt senior Ian MacKay, the team is greatly anticipating their Feb. 1 start in Greenville, South Carolina against Furman University.

“We’re creating a really strong championship culture here this year,” head coach Chris Feifs said. “Improving accountability throughout the program, on the field, in class and in the community is a big priority for us.”

A key component of any potential success the team achieves this season is MacKay’s return after he was lost last season to injury.

The America East Offensive Player of the Year in 2016, MacKay enters the season with a 46-consecutive-game point streak, ranked second among all current Division I players, recording a point in every game of his collegiate career.

“There’s nobody else I would rather lead with than MacKay,” Leary said.

Coming off a season in which he had a team-best 19 turnovers, Leary said he is excited for a special final year in his career and is looking for this team to do something never done before in program history.

Specifically, the team wishes to beat the 2016 success in which they went deep into the playoffs and won a semifinal America East game, he said.

Helping create a drive for success in the program this year is the new class of recruited first-years.

With 20 first-years on the roster from all over the United States and Canada, according to UVM athletics, the team is rejuvenated with new members able to fill a variety of key roster spots for years to come.

In addition to an athletic focus, the men’s lacrosse coaching staff notably emphasizes academic success and community service from all members of the team, coach Feifs said.

“Having the highest GPA in program history this year is a big source of pride through the whole department, ” Feifs said, referring to UVM Athletics’ overall academic success this past fall semester.

The first six games will be on the road this season. Their first home game is in March.

Most teams in the America East conference do not start each season this way, but UVM tends to each year due to the wicked winters of Burlington.

“It’s a point of pride for us, that people are scared to come here,” Leary said.

Even in March and beyond as the snow thaws, the Catamounts often face difficulty scheduling home games due to the far distance of Burlington.

“We are road warriors,” Feifs said. “The bond we gain when we travel adds to our spirit as a team.”

Men’s lacrosse will play their first home game March 8 against Sacred Heart University at Virtue Field.