By Jacob La Cava
UCI’s men’s club lacrosse team faced off against St. Mary’s College of California on Feb. 6 in their first game of the season. The ‘Eaters were looking for redemption after dropping their matchup against St. Mary’s last year by a score of 24-12.
Struggles began for the team before the game could even begin. Due to rainfall earlier in the week, the ARC fields that usually host the ‘Eaters’ home games were closed. This meant that the team had to find a new field and negotiate the field change with the league, referees and St.
Mary’s. Fortunately, the Orange County Great Parks offered a field and time slot that was agreeable for all parties involved, and the ARC worked closely with the team to ensure that an athletic trainer would be present at the game.
St. Mary’s was able to catch UCI off-guard, scoring three goals in the first few minutes of the game. UCI looked strong during their face-offs but struggled to pick up ground balls, resulting in St. Mary’s possession of the ball for extended periods of time.
Senior attackman Billy Marrin led the way for St. Mary’s offense, scoring several of their first-quarter goals. The Northern Californian team’s fast break-based offense flustered UCI’s defense, who are used to slower, isolation-based offenses. St. Mary’s ended the first quarter with an 8-2 lead.
The second quarter began where the first had left off, with UCI winning face-offs but failing to secure possession of the ball. The defense showed vast improvement, allowing fewer backdoor passes and easy shots, but St. Mary’s fast break offense continued to be an issue.
UCI’s offense also saw improvements in the second quarter. Instead of forcing one-on-one situations as they did to start the game, they began to pass the ball around more frequently and engaged in off-ball movement.
St. Mary’s led 13-6 at the end of the second quarter, and they kept their momentum heading into the second half. They showed no signs of slowing as they added eleven more goals over two quarters. UCI collected four more in that time and continued to struggle with maintaining possession of the ball.
At game’s end, the score stood at 24-10. St. Mary’s Marrin scored eleven goals, and Junior attackman Kevin Atkinson added four goals and seven assists. Eighteen of their twenty-four goals were assisted.
UCI Senior attackmen Joe Hinton and Jacky Wang accounted for nine of the team’s ten goals. None of UCI’s goals were assisted, the offense scoring primarily through one-on-one matchups.
UCI’s team has seen several changes since the end of last season and is working to strengthen the chemistry between returning players and newcomers. Of the fifteen players that participated in the game, six have just joined the team, including their goalie, Musa Rangrez. Despite the many newer additions, Head Coach Tim Fox remains optimistic about the team’s potential.
“I saw some good and some bad today,” Fox says. “It’s early in the season, so I don’t want to pass too much judgement. But we’re not looking that bad for our first game.”
Offensive Team Captain Joe Hinton agrees with Fox and thinks that what happened against St. Mary’s was more a cause of “stage fright” than inexperience for the team.
“I think that because of our two scrimmages getting cancelled earlier this quarter, we weren’t really able to get our jitters out,” Hinton says. “But we should be better from here on out.”
UCI looks to bounce back in a home matchup against UC Santa Cruz.