On Thursday, Jan. 26, the UC Irvine Men’s Lacrosse team took the field against the larger, more experienced and heavily favored home team, UCLA. Early predictions of the outcome had UCLA dominating the game in every facet and, in the first quarter, the predictions seemed to be correct.
UCLA put up an 8-0 lead, scoring quickly and playing as the more confident team. After the quarter break, UCI came out with renewed vigor and began to stay with the Bruins, only allowing three points while putting up two points of their own.
The second half was an entirely different game as the Anteaters came out with a fire that seemed to scare the home team. They outscored the Bruins 7-6 for the half. As UCI Head Coach Mark Todd noted after the game, ‘If you came in the second half and didn’t see the score, you would have thought we won. We were knocking their guys all over the place.’
While the game ended with a final score of 18-9, the Anteaters seemed to have worked out their problems. They seem ready for their first home game this Friday against USC at the Anteater Recreation Center fields.
‘If we can continue our momentum from the end of the UCLA game, we’ll be fine,’ Todd said.
This season is the fourth season the team has been a scrimmaging team. In 2001, the team was organized by Ian Televik, a student who played lacrosse in high school and was disappointed that there was no team on campus. The first year the team scrimmaged a couple of high school teams and worked on their stick skills by shooting into trash cans.
The first few years were mostly spent recruiting and teaching, gaining necessary experience to compete.
As with most stories, the underdog comes into his own eventually. Last season, the Men’s Lacrosse team went 6-5, its first winning season, and managed to be ranked 17th out of 90 national teams in the United States Lacrosse Intercollegiate Association’s rankings of club lacrosse teams in the B division. The previous year they were ranked 89th.
This season the team looks as good as it has at any time in the past, even though it’s been plagued by injuries, academic ineligibility and commitment issues. Because it’s a club team, it continues to help teach the game to anyone interested in playing and will have a spot on the roster for anyone with any experience or athletic ability. If a person has experience with basketball, football, soccer or hockey, the game is an easy one to learn and exceptionally fun.
The game itself is played on roughly the same-sized field as soccer, with two goals placed similarly to hockey goals. Players use a stick with a net on the end to throw and catch a ball about the same size as a baseball. The players move and run plays very similar to basketball, though players are allowed to run each other over, tackle and hit each other with their sticks. An oft-heard motto is that lacrosse is ‘the fastest game on two feet.’
Men’s lacrosse is one of the truly American sports, created by the Iroquois before Europeans arrived on the continent. While it is still most popular as an East Coast sport, during the last few years it has begun to pick up momentum on the West Coast.
The UCI Men’s Lacrosse team is one of 24 club sports offered through the ARC. The clubs offered vary from dance sport, to fencing, to ice hockey. Anyone wishing to play one of the sports offered can learn more about each individual sport, contact information and the times that they practice by going to www.campusrec.uci.edu/club/index.asp.