Going Dancing

In the past school year my lacrosse career has been an insane trip. It starts in my freshman year. That year our new head coach recruited very heavily in order to create the best program at Fisher. Throughout my freshman year, we were the underdogs. Even though we finished 12-6 that year, no one expected us to do as well as we did. For the second time ever in program history we made an appearance in the Empire 8 Conference Championship game. We ended up losing the game 13-9 vs Stevens, who at the time was ranked number 11 in the country for DIII lacrosse. This was just the start.

So, getting into this past year. My sophomore year. Our coach again recruited the best he could. We had the goal all year of getting to the Empire 8 Championship and beating Stevens. We weren’t the underdogs to anyone anymore. What I was really not expecting is how we blew out teams by a lot of goals. When we played Stevens during the regular season, we lost 9-11 to them. That was pretty sour feeling. We all took that loss and the loss from them in the championship game the year before as motivation to get better and beat them. The time then came to play then in Hoboken, NJ in the championship game. We played one of the best games we’ve ever played in. We won 16-6.

Winning your conference in DIII, like we did, is an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. Basically, this is like the same tournament that everyone follows in basketball, but its DIII lacrosse. At this point we are the only team not previously ranked in the 2019 NCAA tournament, so back to being underdogs. We all tuned in to watch live the bracket be made and who were going to play. Our next game was versus Gettysburg. We then got back on the bus a week later to head down to Pennsylvania. The Cardinals are going dancing.

At this point schools done and I’m a full time DIII lacrosse player. Its w weird feeling that the only this I had to do was practice and prepare to play Gettysburg. Since beating Stevens, the rankings changed. Stevens went down to number 15 and we got officially ranked at 18. It was an insane feeling to be in the top 20 team in the country. But we still had business to take care of.

When the time came to play Gettysburg, it was back and forth all game. They’d score then wed score. They went on a little run, so did us.  Eventually it’s the end of the 4th quarter. Tied 10-10. Overtime. First to score wins. 10 minutes. That clock then runs out. Double overtime. That clock starts to run down and in the last minute of play a freshman score. We all go wild. First time making the NCAA tournament and first time winning. We made history for Fisher lacrosse that day.

Then we advance. Next up is the Sweet Sixteen. There’s 300+ DIII lacrosse teams in the country and as of May 11, there was only 16 teams playing. That really hit me. Our next opponent was Williams college in Massachusetts. At the time they were ranked number 5 in the country. Were still 18. It was a battle for the whole 60 minutes we ended up losing 17-12. Tough loss, but our coach and team were wo proud of each other as we made our own history.

The tournament ends and the rankings get updated. Stevens finished at number 15, Gettysburg finished at number 13 and Williams finished at number 4. We finished at number 12.

To be ranked that highly and finishing 17-3 overall was more than I could ever ask for in my current lacrosse career. To be a part of history in a top 15 school. It just blows my mind. The media and news in Rochester loved this. First time a program making the NCAA tournament. They were at our games and practices interviewing players and coaching. We even had a videographer follow us on the bus to record and make videos for before and after our games. It all felt so legit and official.

As for the future, we plan on continuing to build on what we accomplished this past year and work harder to make it farther next year. However, our coach said that other teams will look at us differently from the outside and there are new standards for us in the next year.

By Jack Laino

The St. John Fisher College Cardinals mens lacrosse team after a double overtime victory over the Gettysburg bullets

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